I came to Asia for reasons. When it came to writing, I knew there were things I needed to learn--things I didn't know. I didn't know what all of them were. But I did know that I would know when I'd found them.
Some of those involved inspiration for stories--insights I would gain from visiting places (settings), meeting people (characters), experiencing life (plots). But more important would be the tools I needed for my development as a writer: patience, wisdom, and lots of practice, rough drafts, rejection. For all of that I would need time and space from my prior life and dramas.
And there were some unknown unknowns. For example, I'd long been an introvert and/or misanthrope. I could be a real cranky bitch when it came to people. And while I'd learned to grip and grin and elevator pitch in b-school, it felt like pulling teeth. Since I got happy it's gotten easier, but not easy. I knew this could become a problem as I network with agents and publishers. And what of book tours, signings, speaking engagements? Would I have to fake my way through all of that, as well?
Thank you, Indonesia. Because in every Indonesian city I've traveled to thus far, I am something between a curiosity and a celebrity. I don't exaggerate to say 75% of the people I pass stare at me. Some just gawk. Many others smile, wave, say "Hello mister!", etc. They hit me up for conversations and group selfies. Only occasionally do they want to sell me something. Because this has happened over and over again I've grown comfortable with it. It's fun. And I've done nothing to deserve it: I'm just a tall-ish white guy with a beard and tattoos--plus, nowadays, a smile.
So just think when I'm recognized for something I have done. Something good I've created.
Same same with so many personal questions. In Indonesia (as well as Thailand and Cambodia), I've met people rich in happiness and kindness. Strangers have fed me. Spent time with me. In one instance, my Grab driver spent the day with me touring Gedong Songo, then brought me to his home for coffee and to meet his family before driving me the 1.5 hours back to my hotel without asking another rupiah.
And in multiple convos, as we got to know each other, they asked about my travels, etc, the same specific question would come up. My answer evolved. "Maybe." "Sometimes."
And I now know roughly when and where the episode after next starts.