No, I am not in New York.
(although I would very much like to be)
The Big Apple. The Empire State. The Capital of the World. The City So Nice They Named It Twice. Among other cities including Los Angeles, Montreal, and London, I’d like to live there one day, God be willing. To wander the streets and get yelled at by busy, impatient New Yorkers. To see the yellow cabs. To finally learn and understand how streets and avenues work. To feel the pulse – the life of the greatest city in the world!
It all started with Sharon, I guess. She had left Malaysia to spend a summer in New York City, where she wanted to experience the life and to hone her skills as an actress; and the whole time that she was there, she was updating her facebook status almost daily, detailing the encounters that she had and the things that she’d seen.
And then at the same time, I was reading Wolves of the Calla, where one character spent several chapters talking about his journeys in the city. The next book, Song of Susannah followed up with this plot, having the protagonists emerge into the busy city and finding their way around.
Both of these things combined made pretty solid lenses for me to glimpse into another world, one unlike the one that I had lived in all my life. I mean, the farthest I have ever gone from Malaysia was to Madras (now Chennai), India, and that was when I still had to be carried around in diapers! I have never seen the world outside of Asia, and I would very much like to.
(which is why I’m doubly hoping that I would win the Manchester Fiction Writing Prize – so that I can travel halfway across the world. Looking at the travel prices, however, has crushed half my soul)
So when Sharon put out the request for someone to fetch her from the airport on September 1, I thought that it was as good an opportunity as any to explore my options concerning the place. And in our conversations about her summer there, she told me about how artists – actors, musicians, and yes, even writers – are able to carve a living out for themselves despite the competition and a market that is so full of incredibly, insanely talented people. You didn’t have to be crazily successful to live there – just good enough to work, and that’s it.
This was all very new to me. I mean, if I could have a future where I could continue to tell stories through my writing, and earn a living out of it, I would be a very happy person. Really – that would be enough for me. If I can write my stories and sell them for enough money that I don’t have to worry about paying the bills, and I can focus on higher endeavors with the financial worries out of the way, I think that life would be very much fulfilling.
“I want to do that,” Sharon had said, “I don’t want to work a day job and then pursue this as a hobby – I want to be able to call it my profession.”
That makes two of us, I guess.