It took quite a bit longer than expected, but suddenly, yesterday, I felt that the end of the book had appeared on the horizon. The hope is to finish the first draft within the next few days.
Without much idea of how it would turn out, I began writing three months ago, shortly after returning from a chilly Scandinavian bike trip. The time since then has been a mixture of writing, procrastination and the other things in life that tend to take up lots of time, as well they should: friends, family, eating, cooking, getting outdoors and doing interesting things for their own sake. No point counting every second in terms of lost income or productivity. True wealth is measured in ‘time not cash’, as a T‑shirt I once saw neatly put it.
I’ve covered all of the aspects of my travels that I hoped would figure in the retelling, from the very beginning to the natural conclusion of a particular storyline that nicely evokes the underlying messages towards which I found the flow of words to be veering.
The book’s focus has meandered during this time, but that was always inevitable with a first attempt at a novel-length travelogue. I hope that the result will be to the reader as fascinating, entertaining, bewildering and contemplative as the journeys that inspired it were to me.
Writing itself has been a funny process; very organic and unstructured. The best writing always came when I spontaneously isolated myself and my laptop somewhere social but anonymous; when I was in the mood to write and at no other time; in a place where life continued around me as I wrote, reminding me constantly that I was writing about real events, real people and real emotions, helping me to keep the depiction grounded rather than vanishing into a rose-tinted wonderland that never really existed.
Editing is yet to come, and may be time-consuming and prolonged, but my thoughts tend to emerge fully-formed onto the page, so I guess it’ll be a case of adding, subtracting and reordering, rather than rewriting the words themselves. A select bunch of good friends have already offered their help, advice and feedback during the polishing stages.
And that’s nice; I left it a very long time before putting pen to paper, forcing a slow digestion of the bigger picture rather than rushing in to record every last memory in tedious detail before it faded from view, and I think the finished product will be far better as a result.