Cut Seven Year Laowai Parts

The Seven Year Laowai is a prologue to Little Red King, a much larger story.

In the original Little Red King typescript, The Seven Year Laowai ran close to sixteen parts. For the parts I eventually released, I tried to focus more or less on an existing thread.

This scope of this post only covers parts removed from the original MS to the Lost Laowai series; it does not cover what I removed from Lost Laowai to the Kindle version.

So, off the top of my head, here are some removed parts. I’ll update this if I remember more later (the original MS is in a box in my wife’s hometown):

Love, with Chinese characteristics (a conversation)

This post is a reworking of 7YL part in which Jack lectures the narrator him on how a relationship with a Chiense woman is “real love”. The woman in question is Jack’s nineteen year old freshman English student.

Why it was cut: Two reasons. One, it didn’t fit the story I wanted to tell. Two, in the LRK manuscript it changes to where Jack was single. It made things less complicated to have Jack single.

Harassed Student

I think this was after Keith’s introduction. The narrator talks about how foreign teachers are ambassadors for their respective countries and recounts a story he heard from a student about being harassed at a Hankou nightclub by a foreign teacher. The student went to the police, who told her it was “none of their business.” I based it on something that happened to a former student.

Why cut: Pacing. It added nothing that wasn’t covered elsewhere.

The anti-fenqing rant

I think this occured in more than one part. It would have concided with the vandalism mentioned on Tom’s apartment, as well as the growing sense that something terrible is going to happen to John (LRK’s main character). Anyways, it’s exactly what it says on the tin: the narrator rants against Chinese nationalism.

Why cut: It was just terrible. Take my word for it. Nobody wanted to read this crap.

That’s all I can think of for now. I’m sure I’ll update this post later.


You know, Hitler wanted to be an artist. At eighteen he took his inheritance, seven hundred kronen, and moved to Vienna to live and study. He applied to the Academy of Fine Arts and later to the School of Architecture. Ever see one of his paintings? Neither have I. Resistance beat him. Call it overstatement but I’ll say it anyway: it was easier for Hitler to start World War II than it was for him to face a blank square of canvas.

The War of Art is a great book, damn near invaluable, not only for artists (of all stripes), but really, anyone who wants to do something with their lives other than eat, work and reproduce, work some more and die.

Think like this: what’s easier to do? Is it easier to…start an argument on Facebook than work on your query letter? Get caught up on others’ silly problems than do your revisions? I’m paraphrasing what Steven Pressfield says in the book, so I’ll end this little commercial with a link: The War of Art

He writes a blog series, Writing Wednesdays. It’s good stuff, much more worthwhile than say, sharing a silly Buzzfeed/Thought Catalog list or the daily outrage the online tabloids manufacture to drive pageviews.

Little Red King – Query Letter

I think we’re getting closer. Jia you!

After graduating college, 22-year old John Ingram doesn’t know what to do with his life. He wants to leave behind his terrible degree, the terrible economy and his broken family, and when he sees an ad seeking English teachers in China, he jumps at the chance.

The ad leads him to Wuhan, his home for the next nine months. Wuhan turns out to be better than he imagined: he makes good money working only twelve hours a week, his students treat him well, even the most banal interactions provide a story to tell, and Michelle, a Chinese graduate student, makes him forget the life he left behind.

Michelle is hesitant to date anyone, especially a foreigner, but John is persistent. A banquet leads to a date, a date leads to a quick kiss on the shores of Wuhan’s South Lake. Michelle is looking for a serious relationship, and John has decided to be with her, even if it means staying in China the rest of his life.

But when another teacher sexually assaults a student, John is fasely accused.

Deportation looming, John must decide whether his life here is worth fighting for or risk returning to the terrible degree, terrible economy and broken family he left behind.

LITTLE RED KING is 120,000 words.

New fiction: The Traveler

Some flash fiction, available in Dual Coast Magazine:

The traveler pulled out a chair and sat down across from me. I looked up.

“Tonight’s the night?”

The traveler was quiet. He was here before me, and I always figured he’d be here long after I left. Two years ago, he pulled the chair out like he did tonight, ordered the bottle like he did tonight, and took a sip, careful not to let his beard fall into his drink.

Two years, and I guess I don’t need an answer.

Tonight is the night.

Read the rest here.