Carrie: Welcome to Artist Strong David. When did you first realize you were a writer?
It literally came to me at 1:03 a.m. on June 9, 2013 during a United flight from Washington DC to Dubai. I was beginning a rather long stretch of travel between the US and the Middle East and as I was contemplating what exactly I could do to fill the long flights hours, I decided to finally commit to writing the book. I had been thinking about it for a long time, but I never considered myself talented enough to get it done.
Carrie: Tell us a bit about your book Wanderlush.
The premise of the book begins with my concocting an irrational story that I was dying of cancer (I’m a wicked hypochondriac). Before hospice was to come collect me, I decided to invite my unpredictable, Chardonnay-swilling mother on a series of good-bye vacations. Shortly after she accepted, I received a far less catastrophic diagnosis but was now locked into traveling with my mom. The book follows us on a collection of wild and hilarious vacations, with stops in Portugal, Costa Rica, France and United Arab Emirates.
Carrie: Can you describe your creative process to us? How did you develop your idea for this book?
I love keeping a travel journal so during each of our vacations I would take copious notes. When I decided to commit to writing the book, I wrote “scenes” from my journals on index cards. I then sifted through all of the cards and picked out those stories that I felt were compelling. I then used those index cards to form the foundation of the book. Each card got transformed into a chapter. If I had not kept a journal, I’m not sure I would have been able to capture the precise details that were required to pen the humorous tales.
Carrie: How did you know when the book was completed?
I still don’t feel it’s complete. It took every ounce of willpower I had to send it off to the publisher and not recall it to make more changes. I would imagine most writers, and perhaps most artists, feel that their work is never complete – that there’s always a bit more to tell. Maybe that’s the art – leaving the story slightly incomplete to allow the recipient of the work to contemplate and reflect.
I’ve always been driven but taking on this book was challenging for sure. Thankfully, I was traveling a lot and I wrote the book almost entirely during my flights between DC and Dubai. It also helped that when I wasn’t flying I barely slept, so I used those sleepless nights to my advantage.
Carrie: Your book is based loosely on stories from your life. How does a creative (or do you) navigate the vulnerability from sharing as you have?
Great question. All of the stories in the book are taken directly from my life and the trips my mom and I went on. Many of these stories are humiliating, but I feel as though many people will be able to identify with or at least connect to the content so I feel okay about sharing. Of course, I am anxious about what readers think – but that’s more likely stemming from a fear of rejection in general and not from a fear of what people think about the stories themselves. There is one part in the book toward the end in which my mom shares some difficult news with my sister and me. At first I wasn’t sure if I should include it in the book but after speaking with my mom we just knew we had to. My reaction to the news is controversial but it symbolizes both the close relationship I have with my mom as well as the power of humor. I hope readers will appreciate that development of the storyline.
Carrie: What was something about the process of getting your book to print that surprised you?
1. How important it is for an objective eye to review and critique. My book would not have made it to print had it not been for my editor. I felt I had created a compelling story and it wasn’t until Paul critiqued it that I realized there was still so much work to be done.
2. How much responsibility and time it takes to actually get your book in people’s hands. Writing the book was easy compared to the marketing and planning. When all is said and done, I will likely spend ten times the amount of time and effort on promoting the book than I did on writing it.
Carrie: Who/what inspires you?
My mother inspired me to write the book, as did many of my Facebook friends. I had been sharing snippets on my Facebook page, and several of my friends encouraged me and supported the effort. I am grateful to them. I’m also inspired by people who challenge the status quo. I get bored easily so I tend to gravitate toward interesting people.
Carrie: Do you have another creative project in the works? Tell us about it.
Yes, I am currently working on a second humorous travel book, which follows me and my best friend on our recent trip around the world. It sounds glamorous, but I spent most of the vacation gasping for breath in the 100+ degree weather, killing spiders the size of small children, and trying to get rid of a nasty rash.
Carrie: What is one creative resource you can’t live without?
A stack of blank paper and a sharp pencil.
Carrie: How do you define Creativity?
Giving yourself permission to see things differently.
ARTIST THINK: Where can you take more advantage of time in your life to achieve your creative goals? I want to know. Tell me in the comments below.