Not My Way


As Frank Sinatra put it, regrets I have a few.

One that I’m nursing right at this moment is the fact that I am in Singapore instead of Shanghai. Nothing wrong with Singapore – it is home after all. It’s just that home isn’t exactly where the heart is this week.

Where the heart is at is the East China Normal University in Shanghai, China. It’s where probably the biggest number of writers and scholars are gathered anywhere ever to discuss just one literary form – the short story. It is the venue of the 14th International Conference of the Short Story in English.

More than 80 short story writers from more than 40 countries and about 250 scholars from about as many countries are there right now. Celebrating the short story. Discussing this one literary form, sharing their creations, and exchanging thoughts about their art form.

I should be there among them. I was invited. I was registered. I had paid my registration fee. My flight had been booked and my hotel room reserved. Heck, even the NAC (National Arts Council) had advanced me its grant for my participation. And, I had dutifully written my new, previously unpublished short story for reading at the conference, and submitted it for inclusion in the conference anthology.

In the words of another famous singer, all my bags were packed and I was ready to go.

But it’s not to be. My wings have been clipped; I have been temporarily grounded, by what is, hopefully, a short-term medical condition. The doctor has ordered no traveling for a period of time.

So here I am, back home in Singapore, engaged in a conference of one.

I would like to claim, as Sinatra did, that I have done it exactly my way. But who would I be fooling?