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  • Writer's pictureGreg

Writing Kept in Cambodia

Updated: Aug 14

Writing a book is hard. To clarify, writing—that is, putting words on page—is easy. But the editing, organizing, re-writing, incorporating feedback, filling in gaps and corralling everything into a coherent whole that someone might want to read is a [INSERT BAD WORD(s)]. I call the entire process “authoring,” of which the act of writing is, for me, the easiest part.

Village on stilts over water

Authoring is an exercise in dogged perseverance that holds uncertain rewards. I can’t say to myself, “I’m going to bust this out today,” and sprint to the finish. Progress is measured in inches not miles, and I'm running an ultra-marathon. “Stop whining!” you say? That’s fair. I’m a good two-thirds into authoring the third memoir in the Kept series, Kept: An American Househusband in Cambodia, and I needed a little whine with my bagel and lox. Thanks for listening.

People riding motorcycle taxi

To make it up to you, below is a short excerpt. In fact, it's the book's prologue. I hope it intrigues you. If you notice any errors, omissions, or non sequiturs, please refer to the first paragraph herein. - g

The bar is neither big nor small; it's full but not crowded. We’ve come to Desperado for the music and because the owner doesn’t let the numerous sex workers lining the walls hassle us for business.

On stage, the leader of a great Filipino cover band reads a scrap of paper and confesses to the audience, “I’m sorry. We don’t know this song.”

Folks walking on a riverfront promenade
Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh

A thug sitting near us meaningfully places a handgun on the table in front of him. “Play the song or die,” he says. His beefy bodyguards look on in stony silence.

Wide-eyed, Gaurav and I slowly slide under our table, the gentle whir of the margarita machine the only sound.

Dana and I came to Cambodia with eyes wide open. Paris was always going to be a hard act to follow, but we couldn’t leave well enough alone. We doubled down and asked the State Department to send us to one of the world’s toughest places to live. Why? For the money, of course. After two years of painting Paris red on a single income—my wife’s—we had depleted our meager savings. So, we came to Cambodia for the huge hardship bonus. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but right now, under the table on the floor of this bar, that decision seems rather cavalier. - From Kept: An American Househusband in Cambodia

Motorcycle on red-dirt road

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