Printing Off Stacks of Words

An afternoon visit to my neighbourhood copy shop…

It’s been pretty quiet on the blog this year, but I’ve got two good reasons for that.

One: I just haven’t been traveling very much. A visit to Japan, a short trip down to Sardinia, and a long overdue visit to Canada — my first trip back home in over 3 years. And that was about it for 2017.

I’ll be writing about Sardinia soon, watch for that in my Adrift on the Continent column in Outpost.

But other than that, I’ve had my nose in a book all year.

Which brings me to the second reason…

Two: As you know by now, I’m working on a new book.

When it comes to the solitary work of reading and writing, Berlin seems to provide me with exactly the right mix of inspiration, conversation, atmosphere and gloomy indoor weather. I wrote more in my first 3 months here than I did in 6 years on the island of Malta.

That’s a hell of a lot faster than my first book, for which progress had to be measured in geological time…

For those of you who can’t wait to read about those island years, with all their sunny Mediterranean ups and catastrophic downs, it’s getting there.

I’ve scribbled and typed my way through two solid drafts so far.

The next step is a close line-by-line edit, and some more big cuts. I like to do that part on paper. Here it is, hot off the presses from my local copy shop:

A finished draft hot off the presses…

The words look different somehow on paper than they do on a screen. I can slash big chunks aside with a red coloured pencil. And I can scribble marginal notes in tiny handwriting with a fine point pen — the sort of notes which always seem to add the most poetic bits of my stories.

It’s a different way of seeing those events, and of shaping them into a narrative.

And on that note, back to work.

I read somewhere that your memory is what’s left of you.

I’m trying to capture a record of my island years, in part to understand what they meant, how they fit into the larger scheme of my life, but also to preserve those memories before they start fading away.

I wonder if, one day, I’ll look back at that period with nostalgia, though it was so full of torment at the time?

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About the author

Ryan Murdock

Author of A Sunny Place for Shady People and Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America. Host of Personal Landscapes podcast. Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Canada's Outpost magazine. Writer at The Shift. Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.



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