In January 2012, most of my life disappeared in the game Skyrim. The game is heavily influenced by Norse mythology, and the game world is so engrossing that I found myself enjoying little things in-game, like collecting herbs and basic foodstuffs. Something about the simplicity of the food struck me with envy: There were fruits, vegetables, meat, and some herbs and spices. No complexity, no nefarious chemicals. I thought about the people inhabiting Skyrim and how they couldn’t help but burst with vim and vigor eating such a pristine diet (I had also been reading many books on the modern American industrial food system at the time).
I remember this moment clearly, for it was when the idea for my book hatched. I’d had other ideas for books, but those that can survive my withering criticism are few and far between; only those that feel like a sure thing escape premature death. It’s laughable, really – what do I know about “sure things,” especially regarding salable fiction? I’ll tell you: Next to nothing. Still, something in my psyche told me I was ready to write a book, and that this would be the idea.
I started writing in July, got off to an uproarious start, and began tanking in September. By the end of 2012, my original goal of finishing the rough draft before 2013 had been put to an ignominious death. I had written perhaps a quarter, about 55,000 words, of what I had planned.
I took a break over the holidays, recharged, and got some new tools like Scrivener. Something happened. I don’t know what. One day words blossomed along Scrivener’s page-less white scroll. The same thing happened the next day. And the next. I started writing the novel even on days when I wrote blog posts. I could feel the project grinding forward like a locomotive on the tracks, each passing moment adding to the momentum. I set a new deadline: The day before Sarah and I left for a month-long sabbatical in Spain and Switzerland. Four and a half months. Whew. Go.
January passed. Then February. Then March. And April.
And now the deadline is this Friday. Scrivener tells me this zero draft of my manuscript is 198,271 words long. The new number? About 5,000 words. That’s what I have left to write. I am almost there.
I am secretly ecstatic about my progress and that, somehow, in the midst of working from home, alone, all these months earning essentially nothing, I have endured, perhaps thrived. But. Finishing the zero draft is like working off all that old flab so you can start training for the boxing match of your life. In other words, there is a metric ton of hard work in front of me. I am still far from a finished product.
Knowing me, however, if I haven’t quit by this point, I won’t ever quit. In the end, I’ll succeed. The truth is only a matter of repetition.
Plans & Happenings
This Saturday I fly out of Chicago to Granada, Spain, where Sarah and I will relax in the shadow of the Sierra Nevadas and the Alhambra, drink buckets of wine, gorge on tapas, and explore the pueblos blancos of Andalucía. It’s been seven years since we’ve been there, far too long in my opinion. After a couple weeks, we head to Switzerland to enjoy Lausanne, Montreux, Lucerne, and a week in a chalet in Lauterbrunnen with Sarah’s parents. I’m eager to recharge my creative batteries in the presence of natural grandeur.
This is a vacation for me, so Traveling Savage will be on hiatus until the week of June 17. Oh I might post photos and updates over on the Traveling Savage Facebook page, so be sure to check that out.
In the meantime, why not:
- Get inspired to see Scotland.
- Brush up on your whisky lore.
- Plan a trip to Scotland.
- Read up on Scotland’s various places: Arran, Cairngorms, Deeside, Easter Ross, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Islay, Northwest Highlands, Moray-Speyside, Perthshire, Orkney, Shetland, Skye
When I return, I will dive into writing about my trip through the USA’s Kentucky Bourbon country with an eye toward how it relates to the Scotch whisky industry. Until June, Sláinte!