Writing a book is something that is often romanticised and dreamed of. It’s said that everyone has a novel within themselves, and the notion of adding “Author” to one’s list of credentials is for many very alluring.
For those who do embark on the journey of writing a book, the motivation is different in almost every case. Indeed, some set off without the right amount of motivation required to successfully complete the writing process. Of course, many do cross the finish line and in a world where a large number of people have never read a book from cover to cover, they can proudly proclaim to have written one – a feat which is an order of magnitude greater – however commendable or poor the resulting manuscript might be.
For me, the motivation to write Portraits of Madagascar came unexpectedly and with little foreplanning. Like many others, I’d toyed with the idea of using my fondness for words to one day write a book, but perhaps I’d shelved these thoughts in the belief that I hadn’t yet found a story worth telling. My trip to Madagascar changed that and awakened a desire to share with others my joyous, yet simultaneously heart-rendering experiences there.
By no means did that happen overnight, though. I started writing during the flight home from Antananarivo, without a clear idea of when or where I’d use the script, and it was only while I was sorting the many photographs I’d taken into a collection that I felt the pieces of the project starting falling into place.
Since August of 2015, those pieces have shuffled and reshuffled themselves, and many additional pieces have been added and what started as not much more than a private sideline photographic project grew into a book, a change of career, a business, and a burgeoning humanitarian organisation. (Stay in contact to learn more about that in the near future.) Pieces are still being added to the greater project constantly, and it now really is taking on a life of its own.
The same can be said for Portraits of Madagascar, for while many authors set off on their writing endeavours with hopes of starting a successful and prestigious career, making lots of money, or simply achieving the satisfaction of being able to say they’ve written a book, the experience has been very different for me. I don’t feel that it’s a case of wanting the write a great book, but rather that at its essence is a message which is far greater than any one person, and that the book was instead looking for someone to write it. I feel like it “chose” me because of the gift of passion which Madagascar instilled within me to share my experiences in a stunningly beautiful, yet very troubled country.
The process of writing Portraits of Madagascar felt very much like the book was writing itself, and that I was merely present to pen the words to paper. Of course, that is not to say that it was without challenges, but for the most part, it was a case of trying to keep my hands moving as rapidly as the words were coming to me. The message of Madagascar seemed to fall out of me, and throughout the process, my greatest fear has been that of failure to do a good enough job of telling the story.
As triumphant an accomplishment as finishing the writing of a book might seem, the truth is that when one crosses the finish line of the writing process, one immediately finds that there is another distant finish line to cross in getting one’s work out into the world, and it is at least another order of magnitude greater to get it published and into the hands of those who will read and appreciate it!
Having spent the majority of the past year writing, illustrating and designing Portraits of Madagascar without a supporting budget, it is now finally at a point where I feel proud to show it to the world and is now ready for print. But it desperately needs the support of the public (YOU!) for funding this costly process, or it will never see the light of day. We will soon be launching a crowdfunding campaign to raise the funds needed to put the book into print. You can show your support in the meantime by subscribing to this blog and following on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. More importantly, it will go a very, very long way in helping us achieve our targets if you buy a copy of Portraits of Madagascar by effectively pre-ordering through the crowdfunding campaign when it launches in the next week or so.
I will be posting more content on this site and blog as things progress. Of course, I do not wish to give away too much of the contents of the book itself, but I do very much want to share as much about Madagascar, my experiences there, and what’s developed from them as we head into the future. In collaboration with my friend, Hasina Samoelinanja, who is featured in the book, there are some remarkably exciting and significant projects being born out of this, and I would like to invite you to be a part of them. It may not seem directly linked, but your support in purchasing the book is going to go directly to funding our efforts to create a far-reaching humanitarian project for Madagascar and other similar regions. More information on that will follow, so remember to subscribe, like, share, and please feel free to comment and ask questions. This book and everything that stems from it is driven by community interaction and co-operation, so the more you interact, the stronger it will grow.
Thanks for your interest and support, and stay tuned!