We all have times that are a bit full of Life, Ketchup times, when thinking gets a bit scrambled (I know, mixed metaphors, but what do you expect at times like these ...)
Yet I can write. Not made-up stuff. None of those exercises that suggest you imagine yourself on a distant planet now open your eyes and write about what you see. Not a hope of a once upon a time. Nor trying to imagine life as a man, or a person of colour, or a teenage girls with spots. No - any suggestion of 'pretend' and the imaginative half of my brain shot warning sparks. If you try to write any of this stuff down, it said, you'll see it's such twaddle you'll be convinced you've gone bonkers. (Maybe I was, just a little.)
But travel writing is not made up. The bones of the story are there. I could sit with my diaries from Laos know where I went, where I ate, which temples I visited, which wonderful people I met. (Just so you know, I never make up anything in my travel books - everything is as it happened, though some things are played with, just for fun.)
And so it has been possible to use the logical, clear-thinking, unimaginative half of my brain to find stories from my trip to Laos. To tell the truth, it was a relief, when I could find the time, to sit with my memories and the computer and discover that part of my brain was still working. Sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, the stories when down.
The first draft done, I read it through, expecting it to be rubbish. And surprised myself. It needed playing with, but the bones of my story had flesh on them now. All it needed was clothes. And so I edited, and edited, and then asked friends and critics to read it - still not convinced that, in my muddled state, this tale was good enough to publish.
But even my fiercest critic (you know who you are) insisted it's good. It's different from Hidden Tiger, but Laos is a very different country. With different ideas and people and stories. Though, like Hidden Tiger, this will also be an ebook - and for the same reason. It's only 30,000 words: far too short for print copies. (You never know, if I do a third trip, I might put them all together and print them - but that's a decision for another day.)
So I sent it off for a copy edit - and now that is back. The blurb for Amazon is in draft form. The cover is gestating. When I get back from Venice next week I'll take another look at the copy edits, knuckle down to final tweeking ... and formatting ... and marketing ...
And the title: BOMBS AND BUTTERFLIES: OVER THE HILL IN LAOS.