As Wikipedia tells it, ‘A Marked Man’ is a 1917 Western, directed by John Ford and starring Harry Carey, but more interesting than that, is that it is considered to be lost. ‘A Marked Man’ is equally the title a shlock softback book by Stella Cameron, in which a plastic surgeon is acquitted of the murder of two of his former girlfriends, but also a homoerotic novel by Kira Stone about a vampire who has turned into a witch. And figuratively speaking, ‘A Marked Man’ is someone, usually a male, who is in danger from harm by someone else.
Having killed none of his previous vampire girlfriends nor his wife, never really in danger from anyone other than himself, and quite often considered to be lost, this blog is a collection of musings of the author, Mark Nethercote; an infant branded as such, who grew into a Marked boy, and from there into a Marked man. Mark is a doctor, a writer, an avid traveller, and someone who feels quite uncomfortable writing about himself in the third person.
The foetal beginnings of this Blog began ten years ago in an Internet café in Bangkok. On the 29th January 2000, I flew out of Melbourne as a fresh faced 24 year old, for my first experience overseas. Throughout the next ten months, I travelled through 39 countries and over 45,460km, only to return home full of memories and very short of cash. A wanderlust had sprung roots, an understanding that the world is an extraordinary, mystical, beautiful place, bursting with adventure and opportunity.
On that sweaty Bangkok morning in that internet café at 5am, I sent my first email back to friends. It was a simple thing, a quick hello, and a couple of observations I made about things I thought were funny and quirky. I got a few encouraging replies, and so the next email was a little more elaborate. That received feedback, and so the next grew from here. Each day of that year I met new people, and if we struck a bond, I’d add them to my email list. As I later learnt, my emails were being forwarded to friends of friends who were amused by my escape from Russian border patrol, my running with bulls, my evasion from Hungarian police, and my medical expertise required and given to numerous travellers on numerous flights.
By the time I returned home, the emails were essays, and they were being read – or at least junk mailed – from Copenhagen to Cairo.
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Two years later, I took a second trip around Africa and South America, but this time I took a laptop. Initial plans to write a travel book of my adventures took a on an expanded role when, on an overland trip through Malawi, I was suddenly hit with the plot for a novel. In an instant, I had the entire structure, from beginning to end, downloaded through the USB port that sits just behind my right ear.
Over the next seven months, I finished my novel, “A Life in 40 Days”. As with many first novels, it has since been to writer’s school, reworked by several editors, and currently sits on a shelf, unpublished. It served as my writing apprenticeship – which began with English and Literature class at school – and became a fully fledged love affair through the process. In writing travel emails I learnt an ear for observation; through the novel I learnt my voice.
And then I got boring and serious again. I got a real job. I re-entered post-graduate Medical Training, working towards becoming a Paediatrician* all the time feeling the gravitational pull to writing, the thing which filled me up and made me feel alive and whole. I wrote when I had time, and when I needed an outlet: each time I travelled, each time my medical assistance was requested on an aeroplane, right down to when I saw someone bargaining for bread in a shop. Through big events, as I proposed to my wife and then through the evisceration of losing our pregnancy, right down to things as trivial as going to the bank. Even the time someone collapsed of a heroin overdose outside work.
Each time, I write. It is an outlet. It feels good and healing, friendly and loving, right and proper. Words are my friend, and if you’ve come here, then hopefully they are yours too.
Thanks for coming. And I hope you enjoy the ride.
*Disclaimer - Play at your own risk. All names have been changed to protect both the innocent and the guilty. All names, except those of my wife and family, as I only have one of them, and they already know who they are. They, of course, remain neither innocent, nor guilty.
For a more medical view of the world, check out my other blog: itllonlyhurtforaminute.com. But that one isn’t serious either. Well, not yet, anyway.
**Paediatrician - a child in an adult’s body, who has the privilege of hanging out with kids all day, and getting paid for it.