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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Closing one door...

It's only been 7 days and a new stage of the book feels to have approached. So much has happened and things seem to be changing already. The amount of people who are sending their congrats, is really amazing. It's something I never acknowledged would happen. When choosing to 'write about the writing', it was to keep track of all that's involved when creating a book (especially as it's only my first one ;)). I did have doubts whether or not to keep others updated, but then I figured that because this is a travelblog - and travelling is what I'll still be doing - then there was no need to stop this line of communication... And I'm ecstatic that I didn't!

On Friday I felt I was closing one door and opening another. In the literal sense; I was closing the door to the office where I'd spent hours upon hours sitting at the desk, gazing through the window and taking every ounce of inspiration I could from the feelings I was having and the world I was able to envision through my mind. It was suddenly closed, as I 'let the world know' about the completion of my first draft. And with that, I was opening the door to the world again. But I was taking something extra with me. I was taking the computer file containing my story and taking the lessons these past 4 months have given me, out into the world. Where was I heading? Once I opened that front door and felt safe to give all that I've got, to those around me - which was something I wasn't always able to do, for fear of stopping the flow - I was heading down the main street, to meet Kelly! In the afternoon, this special backpacking buddy, who I hadn't seen for nearly 3 years, felt to have come falling out of the sky and landed herself in the main street of Arklow: the town I'd aways rejected as being my place of origin yet suddenly the town that had given me the opportunity to make one of my lifetime dreams become a reality!

Her visit. To talk about perfect timing, would be an understatement. And to say it was amazing the way in which we still connected, wouldn't reflect how strongly our had become - even in our distance. Spending 2 days together represented the next and new stage of... the book and of my life... However over the top that may sound, it doesn't bother me. Because the book 'simply' was my life; my past and my present and it will definitely take-up a part of my future too ;)

Opening another!

This leads me to answer questions that others have been asking.. What's the next step? Well, as with any BABY, it needs to be introduced to the world, it needs to be loved and cared for, it needs the best of the best in terms of support and recognition. All so it develops into what it's meant to be, and so much more! As I'm writing this, it's being read by the most important person: my Mam. Once that's done, I'll know if I'm comfortable with how it is, in its current state and if things should be added or taken away and then I'll find out how to protect it (COPYWRITE!!!!).

It's all very odd, because it's still totally up to me who I approach and what route I take in order for it to grow. I'm searching for a publishers that will see it for what it is, maybe suggest some edits that need to be made - which also could confirm a few doubts that I have myself regarding some of the content. That sounds like a perfect world??!!! Well, guess what? It can be a perfect world, if I choose to see it in that light. Rejection is something I can only grow stronger from and it will challenge me to stand in my truth - in the truth that IS the book. Not everyone will like it, not everyone will approve and many will find it too painful, difficult, deep or dark. But, again, it's my story and it's what I've been carrying around with me, ever since I left Ireland in April 2009.

I realized that I was in India, dreaming of writing, I even knew the title and what it was that needed to be brought into the world. And that's exactly what I've done, it's what I've created and it's not to seek approval from anybody or anything. The book has become an expression of who I was and how I've become who I am today. It's what I aimed to create. I can do whatever I please with the opinions, suggestions and constructive criticism of the world - be that on a personal or a professional level. It's an inevitable element of the next stage.

So the coming month, this is what I must do... Simply be with my baby without fear of it being wrong or right. It's something I've dreamt of doing, and I made it happen. That alone gives me all the strength and reassurance I need when 'gelling' with the world that lies behind the book we simply see on the shelves in every bookshop!!!

The world, and whatever aspect of it we're opening ourselves up to, can be as challenging, easy, harsh or perfect as we ourselves make it out to be!!!
And for me, this next stage of the book, is filled with just as many lessons and revelations as the first stage... For now, I'm in Holland, until the 31st to spend Christmas with the family. I'm keeping these days as light as light can be and once Mam has been properly introduced to my baby, I'll know what to do: Trust, trust and trust some more - that everything is working as it should!!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

The delivery room

I first of all wasn’t going to spill this part of the story, but I just can’t contain myself, so I don’t see why I should..!!! Here it goes.

On Thursday I personally made my way to Dublin, with my baby in my bag. I had 320 A4 pages, put into a huge envelope and I was setting out to approach the publishers who were miraculously holding a competition for those who had written a book! All entrants had to have their manuscript in their publishing house... by the 17th!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can you believe the coincidence!!!!! The deadline I’d set for myself and the deadline this publishing house had set, were the same!!!!!!!! This was too much for me to take in. But I did I take it in, because it was reason number 3 for me to put the pressure on myself in terms of finishing the first draft! So yesterday, the 16th, turned out to one of the biggest milestones of my life. Really really really! Even with the doubts I was having of what had eventually become my story, I still felt like I was floating on air, as I made my way to Dublin, to hand deliver my baby! Yes, the news is, I’ve been secretly giving birth for the past... 9 weeks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And the step I took yesterday, made every single moment worthwhile!

I had no clue of where I was going, my shoulder was aching with this heavy manuscript that contained so many details of my past and of which I was about to unburden my body and soul (!!!!!) from! Finding the publishers, turned out to be so easy - absolutely everything was working in my favour. People helped me to get to where I needed to be, and suddenly there it stood! The place where magic happens: The publishers. Man, I got goose-bumps when I first set eyes on it and I felt like this was only the beginning... of the rest of my life!!! Wow... All those feelings of panic, exhaustion, sleepless nights, they were all in aid of that moment: I stood in the doorway and was greeted by a guy who works there. He was delighted to see my baby! I opened my bag and wanted to hand it to him, but my baby was stuck! The envelope was jammed and sitting so snugly in my bag! The baby was reluctant for us to part ways. But this guy was so excited that I was hand-delivering, and so he was only too happy to help! His exact words were: “Your baby won’t come out!” I’m like: “it’s stuck!” But together we brought my 'first' into the world!!!!!!! I was ecstatic... 2 minutes after the delivery, I was walking away; 2 kilo’s lighter (without any extra baby weight!) and feeling brighter than ever before. I cried some tears of relief and joy (yet again.. seems to be something I’ve been doing quite a lot of lately) and with that, a whole new stage of creating my first (and definitely not my last) future book has started.

What an amazing day! To say that I was excited wouldn’t come close to how I felt yesterday. As I said already, it was one of the biggest days of my life! Whatever happens from here on in, I haven’t a clue. But I know I need to stay calm and I need to see the coming month (or however long) as a new phase. I know the book is still changing. It isn’t set in stone and it was only the first publishers I’ve approached. But the fact that I’ve now something ‘concrete’ enough that can be classed as a complete manuscript is already huge and will definitely lead to bigger things – it simply has to! I’m winding down the tale and will slowly distance myself. But at the same time, there’ll still be work to be done. There’ll also be more outside help, in whatever form that may be! Yay!!! It’s like with any child that first comes into the world; it still needs care, nourishment and will inevitably undergo a lot of change. It needs more attention after the birth than before birth! And that’s what I have to see that coming period as being!

When I was editing, I truly felt, I had nothing left to say... on that particular subject anyhow. Because, yes, I still have so much more to tell through the words I choose to write. But... I’m taking onboard what my Mam said to me the other week “Niamh, you could keep on writing forever!!! At some stage, you have to say for now, it’s enough”. And this is probably exactly what you’re thinking right now, as you’re reading about my writing adventures! So, I’ll take this as a hint! I’ve revealed enough for the moment. And after 6 weeks of research and ‘training’ and 9 weeks of proper focus, concentration and daily devotion to the manuscript, and maybe... 143,988 litres of green, herbal, ginger, peppermint and camomile tea later... The baby has been delivered!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I’ll be sure to update you with any more breaking news!!!!

Giving birth

2 weeks ago I set my deadline. The first draft of the manuscript had to be finished by that particular date. It was to be finished by the 17th of December... Today it’s the 17th. And I can tell you know that hoooollllly ssshhhhmmmmoooooly.... I MADE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can’t quite believe how the past 2 weeks have unfolded since I put that date in my head. At first I didn’t know if it was possible, I didn’t know if it was too much pressure. So why apply such pressure in extreme measures? Because of the Christmas break – going to Holland for 10 days on the 21st till the 31st was bound to throw the whole flow of the book, out the window. As well, a dear travel buddy of mine, Kelly, is coming to stay this weekend and I knew I’d get too distracted if the story hadn’t completed itself by the times she’d arrive. So these 2 reasons were enough for me to put the pressure on and it worked!

Something happened and I became possessed almost. Even before the deadline, the book was already taking me more and more into its grips. It was a rare day if I was able to resist temptation and not sit down and devote some hours to it. But over the past 14 days it became even more intense. I was having more insights, panic attacks, sleepless nights and tears of despair, worry, joy and relief whilst gaining so much love for what I was going through. I had days of not wanting to speak, but still feeling I had to create a balance between the world I was creating and the world in which I was living. I had days of feeling physically distraught with achingly weak legs and sore back muscles. I had evenings where all I could do was curl up, feel yuck and sleep and sleep and sleep... and throughout these hours, again new insights would come and the cycle just kept ongoing... This was all happening in the surroundings of a relatively chaotic and exciting homely environment, with a 1-year-old precious little man bringing so much liveliness to each day. Sometimes the ‘chaos’ was enough for me to want to stay locked away, because I was scared almost for what could happen to the writing and the story that was unfolding, if I were to engage too much with everybody around me.

Anyhow. Last week, this is what was happening. I’d finished the book, Tuesday the 7th. I was a bag of joyful emotions. I wanted to scream, shout, run, jump and tell the whole world! But but but. I then started to edit on Thursday... Something came over me, I wasn’t happy with what the whole thing had become. Oh no! What to do...???? I was exhausted and had been working on the laptop for nearly 10 hours... Didn’t know if I was thinking rationally or not, but for some reason, I changed the whole thing. I took out maybe 10% of ‘snippets’, I threw them in the recycle bin (on the laptop of course...so they could be redeemed if necessary), and I went to bed, feeling sick. I felt like I’d lost something. Because the snippets I’d taken out, made the story into something different than it was actually meant to be! Friday morning, the 10th, I was terrified – at this stage I couldn’t believe how big of an effect this book was having on me. What was I scared of? Of what I could come across, when reviewing the whole story. I couldn’t remember what I’d done throughout the weeks and weeks of writing... This might sound strange, but the book takes on a life of it own and there’s such a flow going that you don’t question or look back too much - I did this once, and it wrecked my head with doubts, panic and so much upset - so it’s a matter of going and going and going.. But Friday I was terrified! Were there loopholes? Was it any good? What about my grammar? What style of writing do I actually have? Have I spoken badly of others? Have I gone too deep? Question after question.... And there’s no way to find out the answer!

I thought it was over. I thought it had all ended and I’d never get the script the way it ‘should’ be and I’d never make the deadline! But I used an open-mind and a constant reassurance that the story has already been written and the words are simply the form of communication I’m using so I can bring this baby to where it’s needed... which is THE WORLD.I kept a distance from others, for 36 hours – again afraid to take the head off everyone and to spill the disaster that I felt to be unravelling upstairs on the precious laptop that had been performing miracles for the 2 months. I stayed focused and let all expectations go, as to how the new version of my manuscript was meant to come together. And I could only say by Friday evening – which was also when I felt more to be civil and speak to Ma and Eileen about what had been going on with me - that the first 50 pages of the script, felt to be AB FAB!!!! (in my opinion..others will think differently and I’m totally fine with that!). I was still scared, up until Tuesday evening, when I’d completed the editing (for now)and realized that it all fitted together as if by magic! Yes Yes Yes... I’d gone through the whole 105.000 words and I was so ecstatic for what it had become!!!!

Then Wednesday I was brushing up on a few things. I was tempted to run through everything again. Then doubts were popping up, left, right and centre! But I thought, no! I realized I’d come to a stage in the process of writing a book, where someone from outside of myself needs to have a peak! So, me and Mam, went to the printers that afternoon where the first 2 samples were suddenly on paper. One was for me, but the other... was for publishers!!!!!!!!!! This part of the adventure leads to whole new one....It’s all so exciting!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Hibernating for winter

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful, and since there’s no place to go, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!!! Yes, that’s exactly what’s happening, here in Arklow at the moment! A blanket of snow is covering the town, the east coast and probably most of the country. So it’s just as well there’s no place to go, because there’s no way of anybody getting anywhere!! For 6 days now, Arklow has been forced to close it’s doors to all, because of the snow. I’ve never seen it so white before in all my life! The temperatures are hitting record-breaking lows… -10!! It’s crazy.. Global warming is effecting the whole world, and Ireland too! What a strange place to be and to witness this is freaky.

Everywhere stops, when the snow starts. The kids are delighted to get a week off school and the parents complain about the cold toes, fingers and noses, the cost of the heating and the dangers of driving. Not a car is on the road and there‘s an eerie silence almost everywhere. People are walking and the Christmas songs feel even more cosy than ever before (and there’s still weeks before the festivities truly hit the world!). The teenagers hang around, firing snowballs, and feel as if to be on holidays.. The happy ones wish passers-by ‘happy snow day’ and the ones eager to torment, simply throw snowballs at strangers!

As for me, I love it! I haven’t been in these temperatures since… 2005..?? That was the last time I’ve seen snow, it was when I was working in Austria. And it so gorgeous to have these memories, whilst being in Arklow. A great experience! I feel to be hibernating for winter and the snow is making me feel so settled. When I relate this to what’s going on in my life right now, it’s just perfect! What’s going on? Well, my life has temporarily become my book. I’m literally starting to live and breathe it.

I’m dreaming of it all night, I’m thinking of it all day. I work on it, just about everyday. I need to often force myself to focus my mind on other things, so as to keep the creative juices fresh! But when I’m getting stuck in to other things, I get these breakthroughs that reveal the ‘plot’ a little bit more. Other times I wake-up and need to grab my pen, because something new suddenly has come to me in my sleep. During the week I was actually speaking the words I’d been writing, in my dream! I was talking in book-form! And all of these insights and ‘knowledge’ I never knew I had, has been popping up out of nowhere! It’s an amazing experience - but the strangest thing too.

I had my 2nd or 3rd writers block, last weekend. It made me panic, freak out and I got so scared! I felt lost and couldn‘t see where I was going. I’d learnt by overcoming the past few ‘blocks’ what I had to do. I simply told myself: “Niamh, walk away from it and steer clear of the delete button!!” So that’s what I did and the next day, things were fresh and flowing once again! It can be the strangest thing, when a block is stumbled upon. Last weekend, it was severe. I got to a stage where I wasn’t going to leave the room until the book was complete! I was determined to stay away from the world for as long as I needed, so as to get through the mental block. I was serious when thoughts came to mind of skipping the Christmas celebrations with the family, if it wasn’t totally finished! This made me realize just how important this book has become to me. It’s like I’m giving birth to something. It’s like this book is my baby and it’s all I care about at the moment and so I’m standing strong by what I said: there’s no Christmas for me this year, if I haven’t pressed the final full-stop that will complete the story!!

So my book is at a stage now, where it needs me to totally hold my focus. There can’t be any distractions and nothing is allowed to stop the flow! It’s like the snow is urging the flow of the book. It’s freaky, but I’m taking this eerie feeling of stillness that’s everywhere around me, to keep me driven in terms of writing. It’s like I’m experiencing the calm before the storm - the storm that may either occur in my life, or in the world(I’m not too sure where it’s going to be!).

But, whatever may be about to happen; it’s snowing and my book is flowing. I’m seeing this as an opportunity to work towards a deadline, by which I want the manuscript finished. I don’t know if it’s wise to put my deadline in writing, here on this blog. It’s putting pressure on myself. But maybe that’s what I need! I don’t know if it’s do-able or not... Because the thing is, I’m new to this whole “book-world” and I haven’t a clue how long it could take to re-read, to edit and make any necessary adjustments. But having said that, I can feel that it’s coming to an end and I know more or less what I still want to bring into the story. I can feel, more or less, that I’m nearly there! Yes, it’s all “more or less..” I’ve been going with the flow ever since I started the ‘job’ and I’m still am. Flowing means I haven’t got too much to hold on to, but, at the same time, I’ve got just about enough to know what I have to do.

So… The deadline has been set with the pack of snow that sits on the roof, keeping me settled and warm, safe and cosy! How happy I am for global warming to take such a turning. It’s gorgeous and I love it!! The countdown has begun and all that’s left now for me to do.. is to continue as before… my desk awaits!! Thank you thank you thank you!! And I wish you such a happy snow day!!!