In my last post, I took a personal journey, surveying my entire life and making an amazing discovery – I always had the heart of a writer. I was always interested in creating and doing things that made people look peculiarly at me – and yet, when implemented they always worked out in the end. My drama kids do that to me all the time. “What were you thinking when you wrote that?” I always answer, “I have no idea where it came from.” But for some reason, it just works. I can’t explain it. So on part two of my journey as a writer, I look at my secondary writing phase. This one really laid the groundwork for the productive current phase I’m in now. So here are the crazy things I was doing back in the day.
Come to think of it, I was always a writer – Part II: 1990-2006
Plays of Cows and Ho Chi Minh (early 1990s): I wrote the script and even the songs for a VBS presentation we did, including the smash-hit “Roman the Cow.” Corny? Absolutely, but the kids loved it. I even named my own production company: Roaming Cow Productions. Around the same time, when we were doing training with a teaching organization, readying ourselves to go Vietnam to teach English, I wrote an off-the-cuff skit that our team had to perform, using the popular at the time motion picture “Forest Gump”. In the skit, I brought Forest to Vietnam – discovering the conical hat and even inspiring Ho Chi Minh to become a revolutionary. I, in one of my few stage acting roles, actually played Forest Gump in the skit. It was such a hit that we were asked to do an encore for our banquet before flying out.
The Vietnam Years 1994-2003 (and beyond): My creative juices didn’t stop during my time in Vietnam. These are the years where I had a blast being creative with my kids. I wrote several movie scripts which I produced and directed with my kids being the stars. It was an incredibly fun way to chronicle the lives of our kids. My first “major” production was “Jasper’s Quest” set in Biblical times around the time of Christ’s birth. Then came my movie epic “The Song of the Golden Buffalo” where my older daughter played a dual role of two different singers who were competing in a famous music festival in Thai Nguyen, Vietnam. (It was fictional, ok?) We used everyday life in Vietnam as the background to the story. It was a ton of crazy fun filming scenes all over Thai Nguyen with countless bystanders looking on, wondering why foreigners are so strange.
My “movie career” continued as I wrote the ridiculously silly “Commercial Broke” that we filmed with my kids’ cousins, “The Recipe for Love,” & “Silly Band” – the last of our kid movies and the only one filmed in Malaysia (2006).
The Vietnam years also saw me starting a monthly newsletter about Vietnamese language and culture which I kept active for nearly four years. My reading and writing about Vietnamese and Asian culture really laid the foundation for many of my written works which were yet to come.
My Vietnam years also had me attempt something previously untried – writing my first novel. I failed miserably. I wrote a few pages and didn’t like it. I was discouraged, set it aside and thought I would never come back to it.
Little did I know that that forsaken idea would bloom into my third novel in 2013 – ten years later.
More on that in Part III.