I am about to embark on something so colossal and terrifying that taking even the first step feels utterly preposterous. I’m talking about the attempt to take several years of my life, untangle the knotted stories, and reassemble them into hundreds of thousands of words in between a front and a back cover — which a total stranger will later be sufficiently moved to read.
It’s narcissism at its most cringeworthy to presume that anyone would want to pay money to read about my life. Yet, despite these excuses for shelving the project before the first pun is even penned, I have resolved to press forward with it. In fact, I’ve made my highest priority for 2011 the completion of the book — to draft, re-write, re-re-write, edit, proof, and maybe even publish it.
As my closest friends will tell you, I’m a stubborn sod, pedantic about spelling and grammar; a perfectionist. These traits often end up getting in the way of progress, but I’m glad to have them on my side for the impending literary ultra-marathon. Once in motion, I won’t stop until I’m happy for it to be sent straight to the printing press. I know that the publishing industry doesn’t work quite like this, but approaching it in this manner will, I think, help to get it finished.
Where to begin the story, then? To start at the very beginning would be logical, no? The day I left home, perhaps — or maybe the preceding months of preparation, or the time at which the idea to head off into the world on a bicycle started to form.
No. This is not where the story begins at all. It took a very, very long time to realise this, and this is primarily why I didn’t begin to write earlier. Since the end of my ride in the Middle East and Africa in 2009, my actual travels have been sporadic, even if I spent much of that time in Armenia. So why didn’t I start writing as soon as I returned from Arabia and Iran? Why did I spend all those winter months letting memories fade, spending endless hours at work, instead of penning the beginnings of a travelogue?
This is a tough one to explain, and it’s my intention that readers of the book, when it is finished, will come to understand why sitting down immediately to write up my trip would have been hopelessly premature. Even today I am still learning new things from experiences I had several years ago. Only now has the format of this book reached a level of maturity in my mind that I feel that it needs to be put down in words. And only now am I confident enough in my writing skills to attempt something so audacious.
I will presently be heading to Armenia again and living there until the summer, during which time I hope to get the bulk of the writing down. In the spirit of asceticism I’m deliberately leaving my camera, my bike, my Sega Megadrive and other distractions behind, because I’m as vulnerable to procrastination as anyone else.
To blog about the writing process itself would be cathartic for me. I hope it will also prove interesting reading for anyone who has followed this far.