You may wonder how could I have an idea of writing A Proper Woman from?
I have inspired from one article I wrote for Wheretherebedragons newsletter in spring last year. The article was about the social norms and woman in Cambodia, the title was “A Proper Woman”
After I have written that article, I started to received so many inspiring messages, emails, comments that I have speaks for many countless women. I then thought why not I develop it into a book and inspire more people through the book?
It took me two months after the newsletter come out.
I started to write a book of A Proper Woman on 13 April 2015 on the Khmer New Year. While I was spending time with my family. I did not know where I should start, but I had the idea of telling stories of 3 generations on how social norms treated women.
When I started writing this book, I never thought that I would not able to finish it. I always write the story with passion and feeling. I have put so much feeling, effort and the hope that the book will benefit others and hope to inspire more of young women to live their life different than just from the society expect them to live.
I started to ask my grandmother’s questions and let her telling me stories, I kept my phone on record without letting her know, so I could get the natural story telling. I did the same with my mother and father.
The different was, I knew the stories of my father and mother ever since I was very young. I grew up by listening to their stories. And they always used those stories to educated me. It is partly shaped who I am today.
I started to interviews other women in my society within 3 generations. They have similar stories, similar struggle. I then met my editor Peter Ford, he has suggested me that I should just focus on my own 3 generations and make it flow as story telling. We may keep those interview for the next book series.
It took me about 3 months to gather information I needed. I went to visit my family very often. I spent time with them, talk to them more about their life. They were always open to talk about their life’s stories, war, childhood. I have learned more about my ancestors, the roots of my family.
I did everything I could. I first wrote my draft of the stories. I wrote my memories of my life’s struggles, I wrote about my childhood’s happy memories. I wrote about my mother’s, father’s, and grandmother’s stories.
I met my editor and he suggested to cut some part out. He has been working hard late at night on google document with me. I was always watching how he did the editing and waited for answers any unclear part of the chapters.
It took me 7 months to finish up writing the story. I have faced challenges since I did not know anything about the publish process. I first thought before I wrote the book was (I only need to write the story and then send to my editor to polish things up, then proofreading, and the final is send to the printing house.) However, the reality is far more than what I have expected.
Every chapter, once my editor finished, I read over and over again to check if there anything I can add or suggested him. He always asked me for my opinion. Along the way, I thought, I want to write the book like the normal novel type - just texts. But then I was thinking, it would be cool to add some drawing of my childhood or my mother’s when she was young. Since, we never have childhood photos.
The idea gave me to start drawing for the book. But, I was concerning that my drawing is not professional like the experienced artist. I decided to seek for the artist to work with me on the drawing. I spent 3 days trying to find the artists, but it come out that, some think more about money than my work. They charge the NGOs cheaper than charging from me paying my own pocket money.
I felt so struggling, yet I did not give up. I tried to do my own drawing. I knew that I am not a professional artist, but I can draw. I told myself, these struggle won’t stop me from doing I want to do. I tried to used all my effort, energy, talent I have to do the drawing.
Along this journey I have learned so many lessons. And that’s very valuable for my life. Some people ignored to help me, but many people are very happy to see what I do, and they cheer me up. In life, not everyone is happy over your own success, but they never be jealous how hard you work, they only jealous what, and why you come to this point? But all I know is I have been working very hard toward my own goal. And I think, this book will benefit many people. That's what I am proud of.