It was silly early in India. At 5:00 AM the sun hid beyond the horizon, reflected light casting shadows over a dusty landscape dotted with multistory flats and makeshift tenements. There are few sounds, save a crow’s piercing squawk, a cow’s soulful moo, and the hum of the nearby concrete manufacturing facility. The unmistakable smell of burning plastic, wet wood, and cow dung permeate the dining room—a recurring beginning on a Newbie writer’s journey.
After no small amount of discussion, my better half agreed to an assignment in India. I lobbied my employer for an unpaid leave of absence. When we shipped out in October 2015 we had three plans: work, travel, and write.
I’d dreamed of writing the “Great American Novel” since I can remember. But like most people, time, family, and personal commitments kept the written word an elusive nymph. As an analyst, my day-job included writing—mostly reports, analyses, assessments, and other boring blather. But the job sucked creativity from one’s body like a litter of puppies at the teat. Then the bell sounded to depart, cutting through the dense fog of rationalizations—there were no more excuses.
I’d written a couple articles for publication, but I wasn’t a writer. I desperately needed practice if I wanted to produce evenly remotely entertaining composition. So I did what many other would-be writer expats do when they find themselves wanting to practice prose while serving as their partner’s full-time Chief of Staff—I started a blog.
The hardest part about writing a blog is idea generation. I spent time learning the technical aspects of web-based distribution, brand development, and HTML, but developing an idea, researching, analyzing, and producing meaningful, interesting, entertaining missives on a weekly basis was a recurring trip through deadline hell. Blogging is a writer’s bootcamp.
Six months into the assignment I started the book. Sixteen months later, as if awakening from a long sleep, still groggy and bleary-eyed, I looked to find 61 blog posts, several more articles sold or accepted for unpaid publication, and 145,623 stale, plebeian words in a book I’d wanted to write since Captain Kirk met the tribbles.
The first draft was nothing if not a testament to the fact that anyone with a keyboard and ten fingers can click out pedestrian poppycock given a sufficient quantity of time, booze, and material. Initial editing served up a punishing slog through literary no-man’s land. Then, after several days and as many chapters, I noticed the pace of edits quicken—chapters required less polishing the further they lived in the manuscript.
The results of writing—the book, the blog, articles—were startling. In addition to blog posts, a first chapter for a future book, and the random published article, the daily, petulant 5:00 AM alarms and pungent aromas culminated in a book with a second draft—soon to be a third. I doubt any of it is any good—at best a mildly non-boring adventure—but it’s also not terrible. This idea of publishing, the formerly elusive nymph now tamed, becomes more attainable, more real with each stroke of the red pen. Soon it will take on the appearance of a short, manageable 70,000 word story, at which point there will be no more excuses.
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Unless otherwise noted, I drew or took the photographs in the article—as lame as they may look. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is probably planned. Copyright can be found here for my original work.