Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society

Writing books piece by piece

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Writing a book like Salt Range and Potohar Plateau or The Apricot Road to Yarkand is a more pleasurable experience. You read over some years and its helps build up a thesis, do the field work, improve your research some more and then come home to write. The Salt Range took me five years to publish from the time I started work. The idea for Apricot Road germinated back in 1991 when I was researching something else at the Royal Geographical Society. The journey was undertaken in 2006 followed by a second visit to RGS. Then I just could not get into writing mode for three years. The book was published in early 2011.

Writing newspaper articles can be two different types. The one where you hurry out and back and produce something. The other is the result of a long period of research followed by a leisurely journey and then easy paced writing. The first kind never made it to my anthologies; only the second did.

Newspaper articles that needed some research were as edifying and uplifting as working on a real book. Experiences like the Sikaram climb in Parachinar (Sea Monsters and the Sun God: Travels in Pakistan), or the trek to Kutte di Qabar in the Khirthar Mountains (Prisoner on a Bus: Travel Through Pakistan) were the result of fairly extensive reading. But these are only two examples; there are others as well.

My work day is variable. But since I am a very early riser, I normally begin work at 8.00 AM. This is after breakfast (yogurt and fruit and a mug of real brewed coffee - no instant, please), a slice of home-baked (I'm the baker) whole wheat bread. I have few distractions other than the phone and emails. I work through to five or a little later.

I also double as a writer for NGO reports. Sometimes this means a heavy workload and then I am up and at it as early as 3.00 AM. During such times, I give up my morning cycling which is from 4.30 to about 6.00 AM summer and winter (except when it gets really cold).

Even in this day and age, I am still a desktop computer user. For one, I never got used to the smaller keyboard of the laptop: it reduces my typing speed which is very frustrating. Secondly, I can only work at home in my study. Once I was at the office of The News on Sunday and Beena Sarwar, my editor at that time, wanted me to add a paragraph to my piece. She went through the roof when I said I could only do it at home! Beena being who she is, cussed me and cussed me, but could not get me to add that one paragraph.

I suppose this is because my study is a little nest where everything is disorderly and comfortable. There is a small plate on the wall next to my monitor that reads, 'In an orderly world there's always a place for the disorderly.' That describes my study.

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posted by Salman Rashid @ 09:00,


At 22 April 2013 at 21:17, Anonymous Saima Ashraf said...

Blanks (on the maps) are where you haven't reached yet. So blanks are always there. Keep up travelling n writing.

At 22 April 2013 at 21:21, Anonymous Yusra Askari said...

No. You are not alone in this. Betartibi is very cool. BTW, you write good. I love it.

At 22 April 2013 at 21:28, Anonymous Zurria Ali said...

Writing to bara azeem kam hey. Write in Urdu for me please.

At 25 April 2013 at 16:52, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

@Saima Ashraf

Thank you. For the time being at least I have no plans of putting away the atlas and my backpack. Nor too of stowing the computer. If I have it my way, I’ll carry on to the very end of my days.

At 25 April 2013 at 16:52, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

@Yusra Askari

Thank you. People like you who tell me I am not doing so badly make the work evermore pleasurable.

At 25 April 2013 at 16:53, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

@Zurria Ali

I have started writing in Urdu. Please check out the Daily Pakistan pages on the blog.


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My Books

Deosai: Land of the Gaint - New

The Apricot Road to Yarkand

Jhelum: City of the Vitasta

Sea Monsters and the Sun God: Travels in Pakistan

Salt Range and Potohar Plateau

Prisoner on a Bus: Travel Through Pakistan

Between Two Burrs on the Map: Travels in Northern Pakistan

Gujranwala: The Glory That Was

Riders on the Wind

Books at Sang-e-Meel

Books of Days