It’s August 13th. For most people, it’s just another random Thursday… but here in this stuffy little apartment in Ljubljana, it’s a Very Big Day Indeed.
Today, after 18 months of excitement and terror, validation and self-doubt, tears and… more tears, and the hardest I’ve ever seen anyone work, Lauren’s book is officially out!
Today, “How Not to Travel the World: Adventures of a Disaster-Prone Backpacker” was released around the world.
Today, I’m the proudest I’ve ever been of my incredible girlfriend.
I’ll freely admit, it’s been a rough road to get here. The traditional publishing process usually takes three years or more, from submitting proposals through writing the manuscript and several rounds of editing, to the physical book showing up in stores. Even with that timeline, most authors suffer from major stress, anxiety and sleepless nights the whole way. Lauren’s gone from start to finish in 18 months, and it’s been tough. Incredibly tough, on her mental and physical health, finances and ambitions, and on our relationship.
We almost broke up more than once along the way, as the person I loved turned from a happy, fun-filled travel companion to someone who lived in her pyjamas, couldn’t talk about anything except The Book seemingly forever, refused to go outside for the first several months of this year and spent 18 hours a day tearfully bashing away at her laptop. I understood, or at least tried to, but it was the biggest challenge we’ve faced as a couple. More than any miserable bus ride, awful hotel, screwed-up travel plans, or near-death experience we’ve shared, Lauren writing this book was the hardest thing we’ve gone through in the last four years.
More than once (in fact, more than several times), I asked both her and myself “Is all this really worth it?” Especially during the last few months of the process, I was pretty sure it wasn’t.
And then, a couple of weeks ago, I held the first copy of the book in my hand… and realised I was wrong. All the arguments, all the tears, all the shit we’ve been through together and separately as How Not to Travel the World grew from a vague idea to a brilliant, hilarious and inspiring travel memoir, was totally worth it.
It’s a massive accomplishment, and I found myself bursting with pride on her behalf as I read it from start to finish… and then read it all over again. I loved it. Even the… erm… more personal parts. Like our first kiss… and our first night together. Yes, even those parts. Ahem.
So what’s it all about? What does the end result of nearly two years of unbelievably hard work look like?
I’ll let Lauren answer that.
It was hitting rock bottom that convinced me to quit my job, sell everything I own, and travel the world alone. After a devastating breakup, I packed my life into a backpack and left for what I hoped would be an enriching journey of self-discovery. I’d spent years spent battling with debilitating anxiety, an eating disorder and a lack of common sense, and was determined to find and heal myself.
Instead, my travels were full of bad luck and near-death experiences. I was scammed, assaulted and robbed, lost teeth and swallowed a cockroach. Instead of finding myself, I lost a laptop, a camera, $1000 and a backpack. I fell into leech-infested rice paddies, had the brakes of my motorbike fail while riding down a mountain and a boat started to sink with me on board. I was caught up in a tsunami, sat beside a corpse and experienced a very unhappy ending during a massage in Thailand.
Though I didn’t realise it at the time, I was experiencing a transformation despite the terrible things that were happening to me. My frequent panic attacks faded away as I repeatedly forced myself to leave my narrow comfort zone. I overcame my eating issues, evolving from a person who had never eaten Asian food to one who wouldn’t think twice about trying fried crickets. I even found love along the way, meeting Dave, a handsome New Zealander who taught me not to be afraid of living.
How Not to Travel The World is about following your dreams, no matter how many curveballs life throws at you. It’s about learning to get out of your comfort zone, finding the humour in messed up situations and falling in love with life on the road.
Other than her thinking I’m handsome for some strange reason, I couldn’t have put it any better myself.
Lauren, you’re a Fucking Rock Star, and I love you more than ever. Today, of all days, I couldn’t be prouder of what you’ve achieved. Who knew how far you’d go after setting the tone for the rest of your travels by nearly missing your first plane four years ago? You’ve written a wonderful book. It’s going to be a massive success, and you richly deserve it.
But…um… just between you and me…… do you think you could maybe not start the sequel for a little while?
So go buy it already… then leave a review on Amazon, because that really helps and will mean the world to Lauren, and to me as well. Thanks in advance!
For e-book versions, you’ll find a copy on all of the global Amazon stores, plus versions for iBook, Nook, Kobo and most other formats.
Note: the links in this post contain affiliate codes — but they’re Lauren’s, not mine. She deserves the extra few cents per copy they’ll bring far more than I do!