Enjoying the process of writing

By Nora Vasconcelos

Ian

“I think Artificial needed the time it has taken me to write it, to understand where the characters were going, and what journey the book would take me on.”

One of the most amazing things about internet is the way it connects us to the rest of the world, giving us the chance, not only to learn most of what happens everywhere immediately, but also, to achieve goals that for some time they might have seem difficult to reach.

That is the case of the international online challenge that every November thousands of writers around the world take. Thanks to the initiative National Novel Writing Month, better known as NaNoWriMo, many manuscripts are completed in one month, from which, published and unpublished books give a sense of completion and success to those who dedicate their days and nights in order for them to make their dreams come true.

Last November, I met Ian Robinson, a writer from Hertfordshire, England, who lives with his wife and family, as well as with a multitude of pets. At that time he had just started with the NaNoWriMo challenge and I found very interesting how this project became the incentive he needed to complete an old manuscript.

Ian spent most of his early years living abroad, and worked in the public sector for 27 years until retiring this year, then he launched his own business, Bladeshunner Ltd.

A little more than one month has passed since the beginning of our conversations about his writing aims, and now, that he’s achieve his goal, he’s been very nice and has shared with me some of his experiences while working on his manuscript:

How was it that you decided to be part of the NaNoWriMo challenge?

I used it as an opportunity to complete my first novel rather than starting a new one. My novel, Artificial, had been with me for over thirteen years and I was half way through, so I decided it was time to finish what I had set out to complete. I had also had the privilege of meeting other writers and authors who have provided advice and encouragement.

Once you committed yourself to this challenge, how difficult was it to go on with it?

I think writing is as tough as we wish to make it. Personally, I try and enjoy the process, and if that means a book takes years to complete, then so be it.

I don’t believe in forcing myself to write a certain number of words each day. The discipline of writing each day I found to be the most beneficial thing. It makes you routined and gifts you the space to do what you enjoy. I reached the 50,000 word limit simply because I wrote more on some days than others.

I think Artificial needed the time it has taken me to write it, to understand where the characters were going, and what journey the book would take me on. After all, there are plenty of things in life we have to do that we would rather not, so why make writing one of them!

Which was the toughest part of achieving your goal, and how did you manage to cope with the difficult times?

The toughest part was giving myself the time to write, giving myself permission to write, that was the biggest challenge. My writing times were when the kids were all in bed, then I wrote. Having my family’s support during the process was a major help.

What is your manuscript about?
Artificial is about following one man through a year of his life. The main character is a man called Arthur Wint, an unassuming type of guy who is in his late thirties, living at home with his mother.

The book is set in the mid-eighties, just before the Miners strike in the UK, and is set within the county of Nottingham. Arthur is a gardener by trade and he works for an eccentric retired Psychiatrist. From his interactions with her and others, we see how his life evolves. The book is a mixture of humour, life, music and crime!

What was your inspiration for this novel?

In the beginning it was to present my wife with a book I had written, as she collects first editions, particularly the first thousand Penguin books. This still is my purpose, but in addition I also wanted to write a book that a reader would find entertaining and thought provoking. I intend when published to donate 10% of year-end sales to the Muscular Dystrophy Charity.

In my spare time, when not with the family, I enjoy music, play drums, I’m an ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy campaign, and play wheelchair basketball with The London Titans.

Now that you’ve completed your manuscript, what’s next?

I have three other novels I outlined when I first started Artificial. I kept the notes and will look at one of these to resurrect it and continue with it whilst editing this one, and looking for a publisher. But as in life, where next?.. is always an open and unknown area.

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Simply… Thankful

The essence of life.
Anyone could wonder why I’ve chosen this photo among so many to represent with an image the world Thankful.

The answer comes from a deep feeling of completion that I got while standing on this amazing place, over there at the North of Ireland, when I had the chance the walk for about 3 km along the shore of the tip of the island only to see the magnificence of this rock formations that have become the meeting point between the earth with the sea waters for hundreds of years.

So, now, with this image, I have the chance to put together in this post three of my strongest passions in life: traveling, writing and reading.

Although I didn’t physically have a book with me that day on the shore, books are always with me, both in paper and in my head. So, now that I’m thinking about how thankful I’m for all the wonderful things that these three passions have given to my life, I thought I’d also add to this post the titles of some of the books I’ve year and for which I’m absolutely thankful for.

So, from the list of my dearest books, I have to start with two stories that marked my childhood: One and Thousand One Nights, The Travels of Marco Polo and The Miser by Moliere.

While growing up, I added some other titles to my top list, such as the works of Oscar Wilde; Around the World in 80 days by Jules Verne; Love in the Time of Colera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez; The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco; The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Conan Doyle, and the works of Charles Dickens.

Recently I’ve increased my list of dearest books with The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov; The last Dickens by Matthew Pearl; Final Theory by Mark Alpert; The Broker by John Grisham, and the collection of books written by Debbie Macomber around Blossom Street.

It’s hard to keep me from prolonging this list, but the books that I’ve mentioned have giving me so many moments of reflexion and enjoyment, that it’s something to be thankful for.

As for my trips, I have to say that there’s not a single one for which I’m not absolutely thankful and amazed for.

Cheers!

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A tour around the world in 1001 images

Text and Photo by Nora Vasconcelos

Destination anywhere.
For restless travelers like myself getting a book like Wonders of the World in 1001 photos is a precious gift.

With breath-taking images, every single page of this book takes my mind hundreds of miles away every single time I go through it.

With inspiring explanations, going through the sections of this little “traveling machine” is like boarding an imaginary plane around the world. To make easier the journey, the book is divided in five sections.

The first one, Natural Wonders, explores the earth and the oceans, the mountains and the forests. In between, it takes the “travelers” to faraway cities founded by native people.

For more adventurous souls, the section on Hidden Treasures is a fascinating trip designed to get to know ancient civilizations and lost empires.

An spiritual journey starts with the Wonders of the Religious hubs section, visiting temples and cathedrals full of art pieces and magnificent structures.

For the urban-life lovers, going through the Amazing Cities section is a deal hard to resist. Seeing the unbelievable images of these places is an open invitation to take long imaginary walks.

The last section of the book is focused on Cultural Paths, giving the readers the opportunity to see in how many cases Nature and Civilization combine to create amazing landscapes.

And now that the mood is set and the weekend awaits, it’s time to start traveling around, no passport required!

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Weekly Photo: Free Spirit

Amazing.
One of these afternoons, when I was wandering around with no hurries nor worries, I sat down on a step to watch the sunset, and suddenly this confident seagull came around to keep me company for a long while and it was kind enough as to let me take this incredible shot.

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Julia Child: Mastering the fine art of cooking (…and living)

Inspirational recipes.
Cooking and traveling are two of the most exciting and rewarding experiences in life, and when they combine, it becomes an extraordinary experience.

This is what Julia Child (1912-2004) mastered to do, she not only became an exceptional chef, but she also found the way to take the readers along with her through the unforgettable journey of cooking and living abroad.

Her books Mastering the Art of French Cooking, My life in France, The way of cooking, The French Chef and Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom, are an extraordinary collection of recipes and experiences told in an animus way, so that the readers, weather they like to cook or not, enjoy going through the pages written by Child.

Julia marked a complete era during the 1960’s and 70’s, showing American people the wonders of French cooking, and more recently, when Child books were already a classic, a movie, based on a book, revived the love that she had for cooking and became a source of inspiration for new generations that had been away of the kitchen most of their lives.

The 2009 movie based on the book Julie and Julia, started as a blogging project created by Julie Powell, who challenged herself to prepare all the recipes contained in Child’s book Mastering the Art of French Cooking, in only one year.

Although it’s not clear yet if this blogging project was agreeable to Child, it certainly make her books pop up in the bookstores immediately, and had remained on the shelves ever since.

Now, that the 100 anniversary of the birthday of Julia Child has arrived, it’s time to remember her one more time, and to thank her again, for her wonderful work that has inspired so many lives.

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Weekly Photo: Wrong

When the world goes upside down.
It’s really interesting how something that looks so wrong can be so right at any given time.
This upside down horse and its rider are an amazing piece of art that manages to surprise anybody who takes the time to look up while wandering around.

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Happy birthday Traveling Book Club Blog!

Two years blogging!
So so great! This weekend is the second anniversay of my blog and I’m truly happy and a bit amazed by how fast the time has passed and how much I’ve enjoyed my blogging experience.

Throughout this two years, I’ve kept on learning and experimenting different things about keeping a blog such as the importance of the design, how important nice and interesting photograpies are, and how topics that add some personal expiriences are able to touch other bloggers lives.

I’ve also being moved by constant fellow bloggers who keep and eye on my blog week after week, and miss me when for one or other reason I have to skip one coment every now and then. To you, my dear fellow bloggers, my immense gratitude! I always enjoy hearing from you all and so many thanks for keeping company in this huge universe composed by words and images!

I have to say that this charming blog of mine also gives me the chance to share my thought about the books I read, my thoughts and reflexions about literature and its impact in our everyday lives, and from time to time, the movies and TV programs that I like or find interesting and that are related to books.

My traveling experiences have also being and important part of my posts and for that I’m grateful too, because it always put me in a great mood while remembering the places I’ve being lucky enough to visit.

So, now that the first two years of my blog have passed, I’m totally ready for many more blogging years to come.

Happy birthday my dear blog and thank you for opening a window to the world for me!

Cheers! 😀