Books The Book

Writer’s Blog: The End Of The Beginning

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.

The Good Life (Allegedly): Provence

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.

12 replies on “Writer’s Blog: The End Of The Beginning”


You’ve made more progress in 3 months than I have in a year.
Look forward to reading it!
I expect there to be a long chapter about xmas in Armenia : ) And a recipe for mince pies!

Hey Ferg! To be honest the bulk of the content covers the 2007–2009 period. So you could say I actually waited almost 2 years to start writing, and that I’m writing about stuff that happened up to 4 years ago (5 if you could the planning/prep!).

Having such a long time to digest really helped — there’s no rush 🙂

I’m taking a book writing class right now. I’m finding it highly valuable. It’s all online, and provides lots of great information on how to structure a book. The teacher is Mary Carroll Moore. It may be worth your time and expense to take the class.

Thanks Bob. I’m doing OK on my own (I think) but if I get into a pickle I’ll take a look!

Ok so I am a late starter. WOuld like to see details of Book structure.. Do u have an address?
Regards OTOT

You should feel really proud of yourself that the first draft is in. Congratulations. It’s the part that flows from your heart. The editing part is equally challenging. It is similar to working a whetstone, every stroke hones your text sharper. Tedious, but ever so necessary. Good luck.

A hearty congratulations from me too. You give me hope that maybe someday I will sit down to write our story too. Look forward to reading the finished copy, and happy to help in between with editing if you need it. I find the editing much more challenging than the writing, actually.

Thanks for offering to help out! Looking forward to reading about your trip one day…

I can relate to your emotions and the roller-coaster experience of writing a book after coming back from an adventure trip: I’m at a similar moment now with my own book about the Panamerican Peaks project where I can see light (in the form of a first draft) at the end of the (writing) tunnel. As a rule of thumb, I’d say that one should expect the book writing to take about as much time as the original experience — it just takes time to digest it all and to get some distance from it to see the bigger picture and abstract from the myriad details to the few essentials.
Looking forward to seeing your final book!

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