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A Lottery Ticket Falls (or Pursuing the Muse in The City of Angels)


Every writer has their own processes. Some shamanistic, some prosaic, some bizarre. Some more planned, more deliberate. Anyway, here is one of mine:


Walk-See-Think.

Play.


At least that’s how it often starts. Walking along the streets. A single image or action, and it leads on from there. After all, Bangkok is a city in which things are in constant motion. They happen. And even when they don’t even the more static objects of this city range from the repulsive to the wondrous.


The miniature dancers decorating the spirit temple.

The noise of the people indulging in their favourite spicy noodles.

The deserted perfume shophouse with hundreds of phials.

The endless motorcycles buzzing past like swarms of mosquitoes.


Each can so easily begin a tale. But what happens next?


This morning I was walking down the soi, when I saw a lottery vendor, a young girl, sitting opposite outside a temple. A loose ticket blew off her open wooden case. The girl reached down to pick it up.

And I thought: What if?

What if a motorcycle drives past and the ticket blows further away?

Play...

So then the vendor chases after it.

And then another person follows in its pursuit.

Then someone else, perhaps a traffic policeman chases them.

Or a grandmother in her noodle restaurant stops, ignores her crippling arthritis, rediscovers her youth and follows them, too

Perhaps a motorcycle taxi driver speeds after it, but a gust blows the ticket ever out of reach.

Or a rich man sees the furore from his luxury MPV, hears that they after the lottery ticket and he too gets out and chases.

Another individual and another and another… Who? Who?

Perhaps at the end (in true Jerome K Jerome fashion) a stray dog tags along.

All in pursuit of a ticket that could possibly win.


Stop!

Reverse.


Many vendors are blind. Should I make this one blind? Why? He wouldn’t realise the ticket has blown away. Maybe he doesn’t have to realise. Maybe that’s the point. Maybe it’s the greed of others around him that involve themselves in the chase. Again, who exactly is in this chase?


But of course each of the characters I’ll more purposively choose later, with intent and hindsight. With the question I ask of myself, what do I want to say or show?

A satire? Am I saying something about Thai society? What? Am I the right person to do so? And anyway is that what I want this story to do? A comment on human nature? Of farce and greed? Too obvious?


So no, I’m not sure then what to do with this story idea.

Perhaps I’ll file it away, perhaps get it out again some day.


Still. How does this story end? What happens to the lottery ticket? Do they catch it? Is it a winner? A loser? Do they tear it up between them or, surprisingly, decide to split it equally? Or perhaps it simply lands like a leaf upon the water of an intersecting khlong and they all fall in as the ticket sinks further beneath the surface, the inks of its numbers bleeding.


And then I realised this is it, isn’t it? The lottery ticket is the idea. A winner or a loser.

And that’s what I, the storyteller, am chasing. See behind the stray dog, right at the back. That's me.



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