Writing a travel memoir

May 14, 2010

in Book musings

When I started writing my book, I really did not have much of an idea of what it would entail. You would think that after working as an editor and writer for 20 years, I would have been more informed. And I was, to a degree. I had already been writing every day and spending a lot of time editing other writers. And thanks to working on deadline for all those years, I was also good at staying disciplined and at the computer.

But the actual day to day of writing a book is hard, much harder than I would have imagined. It’s a cerebral process and I often feel like my brain hurts at the end of the day. As I am writing a memoir, I spend a lot of time not only describing what the landscape around me looked like, but also figuring out where my head was at a particular moment in time: how did I feel, what was I thinking when that lion jumped on the buffalo right next to my jeep on a South African safari. (For the record, I cringed, buried my head on Robert’s shoulder and then looked again, much as you do when you pass by the scene of a horrible car crash.) Plumbing my memories and diaries for why I felt so compelled to live abroad, for the layers of reasoning behind quitting my perfect job and why I continue to feel the need to travel is actually like going through analysis. I know the resulting book will be worth it, but for right now, the process is hard.


1 Kylie May 14, 2010 at 12:31

Sandy, it just goes to show how passionate you are about this book. It is not an endeavour you took on lightly or on a whim. This book will be your legacy. Those close to you know, that it is a book about your travels but also an exploration about yourself and your life.

Perserve, I for one am hooked and do not want you to stop (how selfish is that!!!)

2 Kezia May 14, 2010 at 13:49

Some days are hard, as you deeply reflect on your travels, life in Stockholm, and life, in general. It is akin to analysis. Rosellen Brown states that the creative non-fiction writer “is on a journey of discovery, often unasked for and unplanned” and Phillip Lopate adds that the self-discovery that occurs through this writing, “not only monitors the self but helps it gel. The essay is an enactment of the creation of the self.” So, keep at it! But, also, as I know you do by reading your blog, take good care of yourself, as well : )

3 admin May 14, 2010 at 15:10

Thanks Kylie and Kezia for the support. I appreciate it! I am also really loving the process for the most part – today I had a nice little breakthrough again. But it is hard…one of those things that if I had known how hard it would be I might not have taken it on!

4 Annelie May 17, 2010 at 18:00

Honestly, I have never seen anyone be so organized and dedicated to something. You work really hard San! I think more breaks would be a good thing. . You are doing great, can’t wait to read your book!

5 admin May 17, 2010 at 22:04

Why thanks Annelie! I do love what I am doing and appreciate your support. I did go and work on the balcony for a while.

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