Well, I’ve finished traveling for the year. I achieved my writing goal while on my last trip that took me away from home for all but three days over the last six weeks. Now is the challenge of getting back into a writing groove after traveling.
Before leaving for one segment of my travels – a two-week small yacht cruise from Hong Kong through five Philippine stops, two Malaysia-Borneo stops, Brunei (also on the island of Borneo), plus a few days in Singapore – I promised myself I would use the four sea days to write.
I’ll likely read on the flights, but at sea I’m prepared to carve out a spot in the forward Yacht Club with a view of the bowsprit, open up the laptop (yes, I’m bringing my computer), and write the first draft of a totally non-non-fiction historical science fiction novel, the outlandish idea of which popped into my head a couple of weeks ago. If that doesn’t go anywhere I have a short story idea that also involves a little science, a little iconic location, and a little magical realism (think Gabriel Garcia Marquez meets Jacques Cousteau).
Much to my surprise, I did it!
The first sea day was actually the very first day at sea, between Hong Kong and Hundred Islands in the Philippines. The night waters had been rough but the day was slightly calmer so I sat in the yacht club as planned and wrote a rough draft of a 2000-word short, short magical realism story. Once I smooth it out, and possibly submit it to a writing contest or two, I’ll share more with you all.
On the next three sea days, which played out in the middle and near the end of the cruise, I focused on my historical science fiction novel. Starting from scratch with nothing but a vague idea in my head, I employed the “Stephen King Rule of Writing” – start typing until you have 2000 words for the day, whether that takes two hours or ten hours. Luckily, I was closer to the former than the latter each day. This is pretty rough stuff, but surprisingly, not half bad (if I do say so myself).
Now comes the tough part. Being away from home for so long, especially with no internet for much of that time, has left me with hundreds of emails to review and respond to, plus dozens of errands (including, most critically, filling an empty refrigerator). I’m into my third day back and I’ve been so bogged down, not to mention jet-lagged, that I haven’t written a word on any of my WIPs. On top of that, Christmas is coming. Fast. Given I started this travel spree a week before Thanksgiving, the end of the year’s arrival has come as a bit of a shock to my sense of time.
So today is the day. After waking up at 4 am for the third morning in a row (my biological clock is still in southeast Asia, apparently) and catching up on most (but not all) of my “to do” lists, it’s time to get back into a writing rhythm. This is especially important because in addition to my own Lincoln book in progress I have a half-written travel memoir, editing a Lincoln compilation, a couple of other research projects, and – what was I thinking – a short story to edit and a nascent novel that needs attention.
Merry Christmas to me.
David J. Kent is the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, in Barnes and Noble stores now. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World and two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.