Sold: “Female Construction Crews of Myanmar”

I didn’t know I even had an agent. He was a nice guy, big and bald and told me happily that he thought he could sell my novella, The Female Construction Crews of Myanmar. $3200. I accepted and signed without a thought.

“There’s one thing I don’t understand.” He folded the contract and gave me a check. “Why doesn’t he know who he is?”

The truth was I didn’t remember writing the book; I didn’t remember anything about it. “It’s a reflection on his state of mind.” I scanned the text quickly. “He has the drinking problem too.”

“He does?”

“It’s implied.”


I read a random selection: The roads in Myanmar are slow and narrow, spotted with gaping potholes and long stretches of dirt and gravel. As slow as the traffic slowed, this afforded him time to see the road construction crews, almost entirely of which were made of women.

I scanned ahead, through a long journey down a winding descent and then the character, “I”, boarding a horse cart, and suddenly, in front of his escort, trying to self-fellate. 20151228_075210I couldn’t understand how this worked, why this was being published, but was desperate to understand before I had to give it back, just so I might write more of it and sell something I might remember. 

Smashed rocks had been loaded into baskets and the women walked past, these baskets on their heads. The men minded the boiling tar in flaming drums, back-breaking work, as the horse cart jostled ahead and we headed on our three-day trip.

My Bad Side – The Pitch

The time has almost come to get an agent. The book needs to be pitched…

Crystal and Dee Sinclair started life as a news story.

SACRAMENTO, June16, 1978 Two young girls – one an infant of 14 months – were found alive on Wednesday afternoon, beside their recently deceased mother, Dorothy Keynes, 33. Ms. Keynes was undergoing treatment for depression after the father of the children, Mr. Raymond Sinclair, was killed in alcohol-related single-car traffic accident on Sunday, May 4.

Lillian Murton of Sacramento Social Services made the discovery on a monthly wellness visit. Neighbors along the 7400 block of 21st Avenue expressed outrage that Social Services had not been to the home in the past week.

The elder sibling, 3 years of age, is believed to have fed both herself and her infant sister in the days following their mother’s death. The children are currently being treated for dehydration at U C Davis Children’s Hospital; their names have been withheld. Mrs. James Keynes of Pittsburgh, the mother of the deceased, has filed for adoption of the children.

My Bad Side begins many years on. Crystal, now 27, defiant, knows that her life was borne of tragedy and accepts that with a drink. I’ll tell you what everyone is like. Ever think about torture? Ever think about what that is? People torturing others, I mean, people actually willing to literally torture another person, strap someone down and torture, tear off their fucking fingernails, put wire through their flesh, burn their fucking eyes out, what the fuck else? These people will watch, just watch, another person freak out and scream. And for what? Because they fucking can. Because they can get away with it. That’s who we are. That’s what this is about. We’re fucked. We’re so completely and entirely fucked. (201)

Dee, desired and adored, was too young to remember, and yet the memory persists. She chases after it like a childhood dream, desperate for contact and pushing everyone away.  I had a tightness creeping inside. It wasn’t bad. It was more like almost remembering something, not what I had been told; it was more of a biological thing, molecular. It was spinning in my head. Words wouldn’t go together; the sounds were broken apart. I wanted this. I wanted to move into this, whole, that glacial wall of light, the sex, in and out in one pristine act. It was my promise. (157)

The sisters try to understand each other, but they don’t know how to forgive and feast on their addictions instead.