I’m currently as happy as a very happy thing. Take your happiest emoticon – the one with the smile that takes up the entire lower half of the face, and squeezes the eyes tightly shut. Now imagine that emoticon swollen up and plunked on the torso of a real live human being. Hi. That’s me.
After reaching the end of A Eurasian Diary, then working through a handful of edits, I’m happy (as noted) to say that I’ve saved the file as “Final v1” … in other words, it’s done.
…at least until “Final v2” comes along, and perhaps “Final v3.” But, nevermind that… it’s done!
(dances on desk)
(steps on keyboard)
(accidentally types gobbledygook with dancing feet)
What are some initial reflections on this big, bad, great little experience? One thing that stands out is how different travel writing feels to me now, compared with either fiction or journalism. At first, I’d expected that writing about a journey would feel like blending these two forms into a kind of storified biography, which is indeed how it felt at the very start. As the writing went on, though, the manuscript took on a new life – travel writing is very much a form in its own right, which I suppose I’d never completely appreciated before.
My favourite aspect of it is that you get to be (well, you have to be) objective about your own subjectivity. You can write all about your impressions and experiences in a town like Kashgar, but you have to be aware of the fact (and be happy to relate the fact) that you are a big, biased, bumbling, foreign interloper whose impressions and experiences are actually crafted inside your own head – not by the world you’re temporarily occupying. Some things you can glean – most things you invent.
And that’s o.k. Travelling is an act of wonder, and it’s a pleasure to try and communicate examples of it. Through writing, what I realised was how much control I had over the process – while every last bit of the book is true (I swear!), this felt more like a piece of fiction than a slice of a documentary. Every element has to play its role in your bigger story, bigger idea, bigger plot. Even in relating “truth,” you have to keep on building your own truth, too.
So, one year on, mildly exhausted (but still insanely happy), I’ll shortly be releasing this fully-formed beast into the wild, via the good folks at Amazon and their nifty Electronic Reading Machines (ERMs) that trade under the name of Kindles. Huzzah! Yippers! Wowee! You can rest assured that you’ll find out all the deets on how and where to pick it up, as and when. The launch is planned for early December, in good time for holiday shoppers to consider purchasing a curious fable about this dude who decides one day to take an unusual route home.
Till then – we dance!