Starting to Write – The Writing Life in Story

Day Two

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.

Everything will change over time, I’m sure; even how I record things in this journal.

On this day, I sat down in the one overstuffed reading chair in the cabin and poured through the journals I kept while on the road (five of them). From my daily entries, I developed the memoir’s contents in the form of an outline. It’s not a proper outline, just bullet points on a yellow legal pad, but at least it allows me to see some shape for the book. I plan on dividing it into four parts: journey’s preparation, beginning of trip, middle of trip, and end.

I worked for six hours, despite the power going on and off. I had done some writing in Delhi, so I now have 4,078 words of NAKED ON THE EDGE written.

I’m trying to figure out if there is a pattern to the power. It’s India, so there will always be power outages. Today it went out around noon, which is the time of day I tend to stare out the window.

Despite the power outages, I’m encouraged that I may be able to see a glimmer of how I can get through writing this book. It may seem silly, but what I accomplished today gives me confidence to know I Can Do this. In addition to the outline, I wrote a forward and made a list of the statistical road information I want readers to know. I want to keep this content out of the story because I don’t want a bunch of numbers and percentages to clog up the flow. I imagine the stats will reside at the front of the book.

I set the tone for the book by including a little poem by an unknown author titled “Can Do”. I’d clipped it from my hometown newspaper years ago and have carried in my wallet ever since. Over time, the paper yellowed, became brittle, and the edges sloughed off, making the once small square of newsprint even smaller. The words resonate in me because it’s sums up exactly what my father wanted me to know: I can “go anywhere, do anything, be anyone” I wanted. It’s my mantra and a theme my memoir hinges on.

Can Do

Did is a word of achievement.

Won’t is a word of retreat.

Might is a word of bereavement.

Can’t is a word of defeat.

Ought is a word of duty.

Try is a word of each hour.

Will is a word of beauty.

Can is a word of power.

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