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).
The purpose of this blog is to illustrate the process of writing my memoir titled Naked on the Edge: a Motorcycle, a Goddess, and a Journey (Around India). While the book is about the physical and mental challenges I encountered while riding a motorcycle solo for five months and nearly 7,000 miles in an attempt to discover and reassemble the 51 pieces of a goddess, the blog will chronicle drafting, revising, seeking an agent, and publishing Naked on the Edge.
Some readers may think the physical journey of riding on roads condemned by the World Bank in summer temperatures that peaked to 128 degrees would have been the most hellish aspect of the project, but those who write understand the real pain, misery, suffering, and heartbreak lie in transforming an experience bigger than anything you are equipped to understand (one involving danger, culture clashes, crashes, lost items and romance) into an engaging book. What to include, what to leave out, and how to tie it all together requires some skill and imagination but above all diligence, persistence, determination, and pure blind faith.
I’ve been working on NAKED ON THE EDGE for seventeen years (has it really been that long?) and have generated eight full drafts, along with scores of mini revisions to one chapter or another. Sometimes I’ve hated what I’ve written, but I’ve never once felt the urge to abandon writing Naked on the Edge.
This is the story of my experience in writing Naked on the Edge: a Motorcycle, a Goddess, and a Journey (Around India). I hope it will inspire you to persevere with your own writing projects. Of course, if you decide to chuck the life you have for an adventure on a motorcycle, I’m all for that too.
Next Week: an overview of the details of what went into writing NAKED ON THE EDGE. Where I wrote the first draft, how long it took, subsequent revisions and writers’ retreats, etc.