Origins: How I Became A Writer
The dark, pitch black bar smelt of whiskey and cola.
It was 4 AM.
My stomach was unsettled.
I was with a new friend, Kyung. He was a local and about fifteen years older.
Earlier in the night, he had taken me to a restaurant that served barbecue eel along with assorted sea animals and vegetables. The seafood was followed by a barbecue pork restaurant, a fried chicken restaurant, and now the current bar. In each place, the food was accompanied by beer or soju, a local hard liquor.
Even though I had a big appetite, it was more than my digestive system could take. I told my friend that I was overwhelmed and it was time to quit. But he wouldn’t let me leave. It wasn’t how he was raised. We had to continue.
The two of us went home sometime after 7 AM. I got home to my small one room apartment near the beach and sank in my bed. The events of the night stuck with me as I fell asleep.
The taxis, drinking establishments, seafood, spicy entrees, various liquors, neon- lit streets, urban spaces, and nightlife I had just experienced remained in my head. The evening was a mix of intoxication and mental stimulation. It was exciting to experience the seaside city’s night environment.
I had observed so many new sights. My friend and I had made small conversation with restaurant owners and staff, had joined tables with other people that were out drinking and eating with us, discussed politics and culture with each other, and had tasted lots of unique, local cuisine. Most importantly, I was getting to know a new culture.
Kyung was introducing me to Korean drinking culture and its corresponding nightlife. Eating and drinking all night, while changing venues to what were called il cha, ee cha, sam cha, and so on was an established tradition. Koreans often went to two, three, four, or more restaurants, bars, karaoke, or pool halls with groups of friends in a single night. As my friend was older, we went out in the way he felt most comfortable.
The experience occurred during the winter months of 2007 in Busan, South Korea. It was one of many. Other times, I learned about traditional food, sites, holidays, traditional medicine, and other aspects of life.
I found the experiences revolutionary.
Many things were new. Some were strange. Others were mysterious or inexplicable and needed more investigation.
Not only did I find each new interaction and experience thrilling, I felt the desire to share much of what I was witnessing.
I wanted to tell about the people and places all around me. I felt there was so much material that I was coming into contact with, much of it interesting and unique. There were all sorts of social interactions. There were characters that fit numerous identity groups, including foreigners and natives, various nationalities, genders, and age groups. The expat community alone was full of dynamic individuals. There were people that were explorers, looking for adventure. There were people that were trying to save money and escape poverty. There were people that were trying to meet an easy partner. There were people looking to escape overbearing parents, failed relationships, or past trauma. There were people that were lost. There were artists that just wanted more time to write songs, screenplays, novels, or performance art concepts. The city I met many of these diverse people in had a mystique of its own. There were many small shops, old buildings, lonely bars, and lively restaurants. Busan’s concrete landscape seemingly went on forever, up and over hills, down valleys, and around mountain peaks. It had numerous distinct neighborhoods that were known for certain types of food, people, and attractions. There was Nampodong’s docks, market, and fish market, Haeundae had its beach, clean streets, and high-rises, Gwangalli had the diamond bridge and seafront restaurants and bars, and Seomyon had its crowded promenades, shopping, and salary men. Busan had fascinating environments and people, and they all had stories.
I wanted to tell the stories of the people I had met. Writing seemed to be the best venue for that. It was the medium I was most cut out for and the best one for communicating cultural, political, social, artistic, and philosophical life elements. While I had flirted with writing fiction on and off in previous years, this time I was struck by the desire to make it a reality. Over the course of months, I wrote a few scenes to a novel. I had finally begun my journey as a writer.
That was many years ago. Since that time, I’ve written about intercultural romance, love, travel, life in a foreign country, life in South Korea, friendship, nightlife, drinking, twenty- something adult life, having a good time, loss, and other themes. Website visitors can learn more about the details of my writing by clicking on this link to my writing page.
Thank you for taking the time to read this page. I appreciate your interest in learning more about my writing, and hope that you will find reading it worth your valuable time!
January 28, 2020