The Book.

“I think I’m going to move to Ubud for a while, maybe for 3-6 months,” I typed on my WhatsApp.

It was a cloudy Monday morning in Ubud. I was sitting cross-legged on the front porch; trying to decide whether I would go for a swim or not before meeting Alfred later in the afternoon.

Ubud, Bali

My phone vibrated.

“Moving to Ubud? And doing what?” Alfred’s words popped up on my screen.

“I don’t know,” I typed back. “Writing my book…”

An emoticon laughed at me. “Seriously?!!” Alfred replied. “Who the heck wrote a book in Ubud? Even Elizabeth Gilbert didn’t write her book in Ubud!”

And of course, he was right.

***

I decided to spend 2 weeks in Ubud; thinking that I would finally have the time and solitude to write The Book. These past few months, I had restrained myself from publishing any posts from my traveling journeys in Malaysia, Yogyakarta, Flores, and India–simply because this tiny (annoying) voice in my head kept saying: “Don’t post them now! Those stories will appear later in The Book!”

The Book is supposed to be my first non-fiction book: a travel memoir–and I have everything I need to finish it: a title, a premise, a rough outline…I even had almost 80% of the stories typed. All I need to do is type the rest of it, rewrite some parts that don’t come out as strong as I intended, and organize them to create a flowing narrative of 297 pages. It sounds so simple and easy, yet I had missed my deadline. Twice. I have no excuse, and I don’t intend to start finding one.

Every day, as I woke up to the sound of the morning in Ubud, I told myself that I needed to sit down and wrote a few pages for The Book, today. I needed to create my own Ubud’s book-writing timeline and stick to it.

I ended up doing everything but writing The Book.

***

Ubud kept me busy.

I bumped into some old and new friends (who happened to know each other)–and spent some days conversing with them on the back porch while munching on mangosteens. There were some days when I was on fire: typing around 6 proposals for several movements and social projects that I was about to pursue, as well as making business plans for some friends of mine–just because I felt this rush of enthusiasm and inspiration needed to find an outlet.

There were some days when I didn’t really have anything to do. And for some unexplainable reasons, on those kind of days, I kept bumping into people who practiced Reiki, spiritual healing, channeling, or yoga… to one point whereby I met a friend of a friend, and somehow ended up in a house full of statues and crystals by the rice fields near Penestanan for a kundalini meditation session–all the while asking myself, “What the heck are you doing, exactly?” and immediately answering back, “This could be an interesting story for The Book!”

When I didn’t bump into those interesting flocks, I went out for coffee or some healthy meals in one of those organic restaurants sprawled around the town; then walked around aimlessly for around 2 to 3 hours–checking out different alleys and shops and gelato bars, too lazy to even snap pictures. Other days, I would hang out with the staff at the hotel–conversing all night long by the pool while being bitten by mosquitos, listening to their life stories, and ended up explaining about meteors, eclipse, and earthquakes (“So, it’s not because of the dragon that is moving under the earth’s surface?”).

But most of the times, I would find myself sat lazily somewhere: reading a book, sipping watermelon juice, watching people, and then went back to my hotel–took a cold shower, wrote a long letter for my muse, and fell asleep.

It sounded like a vicious cycle, but the funny thing was: it actually didn’t feel vicious at all. I wanted to feel guilty because I didn’t touch The Book while I was in Ubud, but I just couldn’t.

***

It has been around a month since I got back from Ubud, and this week, I started to revisit The Book again. I realized that a ‘rough outline’ I have at the moment was not enough. This time, I committed to tighten it, restraining myself to edit (and re-edit) my stories before I could get that nice flow of narratives mapped out in a final outline.

It was not an easy task. To be honest, I hate making outlines–especially detailed one with so many bullets and sub-bullet points. I always think of myself as a ‘spontaneous writer’ and outlining just doesn’t work for me. However, deep down inside, I know that I won’t go anywhere if I am still unsure of where I should place my stories on The Book. I can keep on rewriting and rewriting and rewriting and it will never get done. The stories will simply get lost somewhere in the middle of it all.

Ubud

And then it hit me. Right there. When I thought about ‘getting lost’.

I laughed at myself for a while, as I realized that ‘getting lost’ was actually my way of exploring a city when I travel. I am too lazy to read a map, I am not good in remembering routes (too busy noticing the small things along the way), and I get disoriented quite a lot–to the point that I could even get lost in a big shopping mall. I don’t plan things. I don’t keep a list of places I want to see. I don’t aim for landmarks or museums or souvenir shops. I just… go.

Now I know why mapping out The Book’s outline feels so darn hard since the very beginning.

Walking around aimlessly, not really heading anywhere, and letting the city I visit opening itself up to me as I get lost in it–that is how I travel. And The Book, indeed, is my travel memoir.


28 Comments on “The Book.”

  1. cas cis cus-nya CHA says:

    selalu bertanya2 knp hanny ga bikin2 buku sih. And now finally “The Book”! can’t wait for that! smangat \(^o^)/

  2. Erwin Endo says:

    I feel you. Guess, in some way, I’m experiencing the same condition.. Anyway, good luck with The Book. I’m looking forward to read it. :)

  3. photographool says:

    Can’t wait to read The Book, get lost in your writings, and find amazing things :)

  4. They say it’s the creative process. Ideas – research – quiet time to let the mind and body absorb – then implementation.
    Looking forward to read the book!

    Hello, by the way. I’ve been a silent reader and a quiet lover of you snaps and pieces.

    • Aaaaw, thanks, Dita! :’D *hugs* (and thank you so much for not being a silent reader at this particular post!). Appreciating the support! And, hello back your way! ^o^ Thank you for being so kind! :”)

  5. I’ve spent a few good years getting distracted from my own Book, and understand the guilt that comes with that- best of luck mixing your on-going adventures with whatever it takes to finish!

  6. You are wonderful writer, Hanny. Can’t wait to read your memoir about traveling by getting lost! :)
    – Gypsytoes from The Dusty Sneakers

  7. Dian says:

    really looking forward to read your book :)

  8. @djghina says:

    This is why i can let go from your blog, the stories, the memories, the little things that you’ve mentioned…glad to hear the progress, surely i want to be on the first line..get lost through the book..kutunggu kejutan manis itu…. :*

  9. yosiyana says:

    i’m a fan of your writing. a huge one. and i couldn’t be happier to finally hear about The Book! Hope the progress goes well. because i’m sure there are lots of people like me. can’t wait to get lost in The Book. :)

  10. elva says:

    nyentil banget deh ni tulisannnya jadi keingat jg mau bikin kumcer tp blm jadi2 jg :(
    semangaat untuk The Book ..smoga segera kelar dan diriku bisa menikmatinya ^_^

  11. katpegimana says:

    Hi, looking forward to get “lost” in your Book, good luck!

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