Monday –– May 25, 1997
Mom called yesterday to say my finances are down to $4,000. She’s worried. I probably should be too but I can’t afford to let my mind stray to thoughts of money. I’ve got a book to write.
Today is my first official writing day because it’s the day I have designated as seriously sitting down to draft Naked on the Edge. I’ve never written a book or any text of this length (90,000 words make a book) and I’m sure it will be a work-in-progress. For this reason, I’ve started a separate journal devoted to my feelings, inspirations, work habits, progress, speed, changes, depressions, etc. All of it. Read more
Friday – May 22-23, 1997
I lumbered off the bus with a bulging backpack and a laptop tucked in a case slung over my shoulder. I’d left Kali in Delhi because I’d too much stuff to carry and taken an overnight express to the Himalayan foothills where my writing life, for the next two months, awaited in a cabin in Landour.
I hadn’t slept on the bus because I’d been surrounded by five, fun-loving, 20-something-year-old young Indian men who laughed, whistled, sang, told stories and shouted at each other all night. On top of that, there was no legroom for a person of my stature, and I was squished against the window as the so-called luxury bus pushed across the plains. It’s a blessing that the darkness prevented me from witnessing the near-death mishaps the driver managed to elude, but I felt them as the dilapidated motor coach teetered on what felt like two wheels, at times, as it careened up the mountain. Read more
In my mind, the acts of riding a motorcycle solo around India and writing about riding one are conjoined twins. There’s not one without the other because, since before swinging my leg over the Royal Enfield Bullet –– a 350cc named Kali after the Hindu goddess of destruction and rebirth –– the two journeys were undertaken with one purpose. First, to experience what it was like for a woman to travel on a man’s machine in a country were women don’t travel alone, and second to write and publish a book of the adventure as a means of sharing with others –– especially women –– that they can “go anywhere, do anything, be anyone” they want (words my father said to me when I was a shy, awkward teenager. Words I don’t feel girls and women hear often enough today). Read more
Daya Nang met me at the gate Lal Khethi’s gate, and pointed the way back to the cottage, which sat some 150 feet behind the main house. The drive was long and pitted with holes, and the fields on all sides of it freshly tilled and smelling of earth. A stand of fruit trees buffeted the back of the main house, blocking the cottage from view. When I arrived at it, I switched off Kali, easing the sidestand down. Daya Nang helped me carry my bags into the cottage; he took the smaller tote and left me to struggle under the weight of the saddle bags. My old-faithful boot, a pair of Vasque that I’d worn for years in India as well as the entire journey around it, sunk deep into the dark soil. Read more
When I returned to New Delhi after five months and nearly 7,000 miles riding Kali around India, I did nothing but recoup for a few weeks. I stayed with Thomas and Louise again, while trying to sort out a place where I could write distraction-free. I called Mr. Lal, the owner of Alyndale, the Himalayan cabin I’d stayed in while studying Hindi before setting out on the journey. It was January, and too cold and snowy to go to the Alyndale, but his farm cottage was available.
In my journal dated January 26, 1998 I wrote: Read more
I drafted the original version of Naked on the Edge in less than two months, while holed up in a cabin in the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains. I didn’t edit or rewrite during that time, just plugged away at getting the story down. I can’t say it was good, but it was done. Spelling and grammar mistakes littered the work. The voice was friendly but the writing was…well, let’s just say I cringe now when I reread it. It was divided into four sections and ran 388 pages. Read more
Before I even started writing my book, I had a title. I jotted it down in the front cover of a red-cloth notebook that I’d picked up in Old Delhi. It was the first of five notebooks to come during the course of all those many miles riding around India.
The journey was long, but as I rode something happened. The title that I’d first thought so fittingly perfect for my book began to morph and change with each turn of the wheel. I wrote down each new title that popped into my head, thinking it summed up all a good title should. Read more