Hot damn, or, 227 note cards

A lot of folks think that travel is easy. You deplane from your private jet, whisk away to a private beach, and sip cocktails while, presumably, someone does something very private to your privates.

We know that ain’t the case. We know that travel is often more like this…

Arrive in New Delhi at 2 a.m., after over 14 hours of flying.

Wrestle your heavy pack onto your back and stagger out into a wet oven.

Realize your clothes feel and smell like you found them under the bridge outside a dump. Your mouth is hosting a bad-breath party, and you’d love a drink, if only to oust the oral funk like the police getting called in to bust things up.

Exit the airport and enter Mad-Max-like throng of taxi drivers.

White-knuckle your seat all the way into town, while the driver careens past taxis, bikes, cows and sadhus, all the while driving apparently by horn control alone.

Tell taxi driver you don’t care that his friend’s place is better. You’re going to where you told him in the first place.

Slump into bed, not caring where you are, as long as there’s a bed.

Awake on your first full day. Look outside. Let it hit you. Shout “Hot damn! I’m India!”

It’s much the same with writing a novel.

People think words spill onto the page like Galway Pradesh Stout from a fresh tap.

But you know what it really takes (at least for this guy)? Lots and lots of note cards. 227 note cards, in fact.

As I continue rewriting my debut novel, I’m now making sure of 2 things:

  1. I know my characters.
  2. Every word, every scene, every action pulls its weight.

Just like a trip, it’s the little things, the unsexy, unglamorous yet crucial logistics that really make for success and a good time.

I’ll mercilessly cut scenes and words, just like I’ll tell an overly pushy taxi driver to feck off. (But that’s another story for another time.)

But you know what?

Hot damn! I’m in India!

And hot damn, I’m writing a book!

Moment by moment, word by world, it all comes together. Soon enough, and hot damn!—it’ll be in your hands.

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