First up, the Netherlands series wraps up with Amsterdam and Haarlem over on my legit writing website. Give it a click if you care to see the urban counterpart to our rural, flowery adventure.
I've recently taken a big step in the process of writing Five Suitcases, the personal memoir of the first two years of my expat experience. Until this point, the book has been written like a series of blog posts – disparate stories in separate files that relate to each other...more or less.
I preferred to start the book this way because the short-form personal story is my most comfortable writing format. Look no further than this blog to see the 500+ vignettes I've put pounded together about water heaters, concert reviews, supermarket visits, and old video games. Thinking one massive document to be unwieldy and overwhelming, I wrote the various stories of the book like very long blog posts, making references and connections when convenient.
But no longer! I have now created one long document in which to do the rest of the writing and editing of the book. Currently weighing in at 80,000 words – a bit more than twice the length of The Frugal Guide: Dublin, which is still available for free at all fine eBook distributors – this book has all the bulk it will ever need. Any new stories I tell (and I want to tell more!) will most likely replace sidebars, exaggerations, and analogies that must be left on the proverbial cutting room floor. Reading through everything I've written over the past six months, said floor looks like it will be quite messy. Does the finished book really need a long reflection about the value of a Midwest American basement? Probably not.
I was surprised to see this word count staring back at me as I pasted the final chapter into my now-massive document. All those weeks of hitting my 5000 word quota had seemed to pay off, and all the individual documents in my Five Suitcases folder had really added up to something significant.
I'm excited to have reached this stage, although I know this will be the hardest part of the project. Taking a series of (hopefully) funny stories and turning them into a cohesive product that will be read (again hopefully) in longer sessions, cover-to-cover, looks to be a laborious process. Jokes about Gareth...er...Garth Brooks and Irish Water are great, but how do they relate to the Barry's/Lyons tea battle or the struggle to understand a roller coaster accent through a tiny disposable phone speaker?
Happily, things are right on track for my nebulous "Late 2015" self-publishing deadline. Later this summer, be on the lookout for a chance to preview the book and provide feedback. All volunteers get secret access to this early e-publisher's proof, a free copy of the final e-book when it is released, and the chance to be forever e-immortalized in the acknowledgements of all editions of the final book. That's much better than money, right?