Maybe this little sailor will soon be homeward bound. Or maybe not. Everything else pales at the moment while awaiting possibly life-changing decisions. One thing’s for sure though, I am truly ready to sail on home, my amazing wife and cats in tow.
The last few days, well actually the last few years, I have thought a lot about the meaning of home.
Many years ago a good friend moved to Africa, then Paris and then back to Zurich. I remember asking him curiously, “Why did you move back? Why didn’t you stay out there and explore more?”
And he said, “It was great for a while, but all my family and friends are here. They are what matters most. So I will keep seeing as much of the world as I can. But my home base will always be Zurich.”
I didn’t understand him at the time. In 2004, when this photo was taken, I had already lived thirteen years in Zurich. It had become a true home. I was happy. Yet, I was restless and could feel my blood stirring. I kept wondering, “Can this be all? There is so much else out there for me to explore.”
Then, starting from October 2005, explore I did. Over the next few years I lived and worked in the Maldives, Belgium, Macau, Canada, Hong Kong, and Malta. I travelled all over Asia and Europe, through some of Africa and North America. All the while looking for home, but never finding it.
Living in Malta now, I can appreciate the kindness of its people. I can savour the scents and sights of the sparkling Mediterranean Sea. But as I have done so many times over the last ten years, I can feel my thoughts returning to Zurich…
Every year since I left, I traveled back to the charming Swiss metropolis at least once. Each time it felt like an old comfortable shoe which slipped back onto my feet so very comfortably. I walked along the lake, sipped latte macchiato with old friends, went to the open air cinema, the vibrant Niederdorf, rode around in trams, and took in the sights along the river Limmat. My heart beat faster, emotion seemed to overwhelm me, and I had tears in my eyes many times over.
It took writing my memoirs and looking at my own life story in its entirety though, for me to truly learn and understand. It took showing my wife my beloved Swiss haven, and her telling me, “Liam, this place is so inspiring. And you can’t seem to shut up ever since we’re here. Your eyes sparkle. I haven’t seen you so happy in a long time.”
Is this what is called coming full circle? I think I understand now. Searching far away was necessary for me to learn, grow and begin to know myself. It was essential to truly come to appreciate what had been there for me all along.
Zurich, with all my friends and family whom I love and care for is my home and always will be, no matter where I go. In many ways, it is time to come home. This time not alone, but with a wonderful partner in life. Knowing this, I can feel something deep within me finally settling into a state of contentment. W.B. Pitkin said, “Life begins at forty.” Maybe, in a very profound way, for me it truly does.
It’s time for another update on the publishing progress of ‘The Fortunate Nomad’. The keyword in all of this for me is PATIENCE as well as a very large dose of tenacity.
So far I have sent manuscript submissions to 75 literary agents and publishing houses in the UK, USA, Australia, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, etc. As of now, I have received 17 rejections.
One reputable hybrid company (mix between conventional and self-publishing) in the UK has shown great interest to publish and market my book. This is great – but also quite expensive initially, since they usually require their authors to cover the cost of the first edition. Should I not be able to get anyone else excited about my manuscript until the end of September this year, I will take matters into my own hands and go with this hybrid publishing house in the UK. They do sound very competent and I have seen their books at the London Book Fair. All their paperbacks were of excellent quality, indistinguishable from products done by a traditional publisher. Their production manager was incredibly passionate about every detail of the books she produces and their general marketing plan sounded very good as well.
For now, however, it’s many more hours of tenacious letter writing!
I will keep following my dream to find an agent who will open the doors to conventional publishing for me. There are at least 500 more suitable agencies I haven’t written to yet… and I am still on a roll, enjoying the journey!
Every now and then I remember my birth dad who is somewhere out there and who I’ve never seen.
I first heard about him when I was around twenty-three years old. At the time, I was both shaken as well as happy to find out about being half Southern Italian. (I guess that’s where all the fire comes from. Forza!)
Today, for some reason, he is on my mind. And, as so many times before, his turban-like Seventies hairdo makes me smile. He was only nineteen when this photo was taken…
Does he ever wonder what happened to me after he ran off? Who has he become? Is he a good man? Does he have a big family? Is he enjoying the same, blazing, southern sun right now, not far away from me, in Apulia?
Maybe we’re even having our evening beer at the same time, toasting each other across the deep blue Mediterranean Sea without being aware of doing so…
The last few months have felt a lot like climbing a larger-than-life Everest, with the hope that, at some time, the clouds will lift and there will be a sunny peak on which to rest my weary feet while enjoying the vista spreading out in all directions around me.
Most days, I believe in my path, trust the process, and enjoy the journey. Some days though, I can’t help but feel weary and tired, longing for a much-needed break. I am plodding on in my day job, uninspired, but knowing that for now my wife and I simply need to make ends meet.
Every day after work, I rush to my computer and search for jobs worldwide, hoping to find something more inspiring than screening up to 500 internet ads per hour. Then, I focus on searching for suitable literary agents online and send out excerpts of my manuscript. So far I have sent 47 submissions and have received 14 rejections.
Yesterday, it was great to leave our congested Maltese city for a day-trip to Gozo. When we reached the smaller island’s most famous rock formation, I couldn’t take my eyes off the waves dancing and boiling around the Azure Window. I inhaled the salty spray, watched the oceanic ballet, and let the waves roll on through my mind.
Today, the ocean is still within me and it’s time for another dozen or so manuscript submissions to make their way out into the world. Smiling to myself, I begin writing…
Day 3 at #LBF was just as intimidating as day one. I tried approaching big publishing houses to get email addresses from them. I tried getting small publishing houses curious. And I ventured into a big hall filled entirely with literary agencies. There especially, the fair felt like an old-fashioned movie scene of the New York stock market, with frantic stock brokers hurrying to and fro. I gave up talking to any agents after the first three I approached looked at me as if I had just murdered their mother.
I did have some good experiences though. One receptionist handed me email addresses he shouldn’t have, a lady from the esteemed UK self-publishing hybrid Matador showed interest in my book, two publishers responded with “yes, we do accept unsolicited manuscripts”, and a lovely lady gave me invaluable tips.
Then, at around 3 p.m. my Pericardia flared up in earnest and I said goodbye to the book fair to get some rest.
The evening was spent with good old friends from the Maldives, enjoying their good company and a juicy steak at the river, in close proximity to Tower Bridge.
Overall, my three days in London have been far more adventurous than I had bargained for, but I persevered, made some connections and fell in love with this vibrant, beautiful city.
Now, I am off to the airport. Once back in Malta, I will start another wave of proposal letters to all the addresses I was able to acquire. As always, keep fingers crossed my dear friends xxx
The first day at #LBF was slightly intimidating. Frantic business activity all around me, everyone with a fully planned schedule… except little underdressed me who carried his dreams and heart on his sleeve.
Then, in the evening of this first day at my first-ever book show, my chest began to hurt as if thousands of little paper cuts were slicing into my heart. After a while I got scared enough to pack my bag and move from the hotel to the emergency room of Charing Cross hospital. The night and the entire second Book Fair day were thus spent undergoing countless tests, meeting cardiac specialists and swallowing pills in myriad shapes and colors.
Thankfully, my heart turns out to be just fine. Instead, due to several flus contracted in Malta’s cold, humid winter, the tissue surrounding my heart has become inflamed, which is essentially harmless and easy to treat but hurts like hell.
Just a few hours ago the doctors sent me on my way after handing me a bagful of anti-inflammatory drugs.
Tomorrow is another day and also the last day at LBF. Pain or not, I’ll be there!
It’s 5 a.m. … and here I am, at Luqa International airport in Malta. In just an hour I’ll be heading to Heathrow and on to the London Book Fair.
I must admit I have no concrete plans. So far, all info is quite disheartening. Agents and publishers are not interested in spontaneous talks with aspiring authors and any interviews need to be booked months in advance. I love the world of books, so I’ll be quite happy strolling through the holy halls of modern day book publishing though.
Of course, I have dreams of running into my favorite authors, like for example J.K. Rowlings and casually asking her, “hey, wanna grab a coffee?”
To which she will reply, “Sure, I’d love to!”
Or chatting with an agent in between booths and him saying, “I need to hear more about that book of yours. I am veeery interested.”
Whatever happens or doesn’t happen though, I’ll enjoy the adventure and try to get at least a little taste of London.
For now, I am having a delicious chocolate croissant and am sitting next to a charming family from Liverpool whose little son is also called Liam. Looking at me with sparkling eyes and devouring his custard pie, I am sure little Liam agrees that our day isn’t off to a bad start.
Pheeew, exciting times. Three days ago my laptop began to freeze continuously. I managed to reboot it one more time, copied all the latest files for my book onto a thumb drive and, five minutes later, the machine was as unresponsive as a brick wall.
With lots of coaxing I was finally able to reboot it in recovery mode and reformat the entire thing.
Now it’s all good. Adrenaline levels are back to normal and backups are transferred to the “all new” machine.
Has anything like this ever happened to you? I am still sweating and have been reminded once more to not trust my gadgets too blindly and to back up religiously!
All my life, I have not done things by halves. For as long as I can remember, I have given my very heart and soul to every single work project, no matter who for, no matter how small or big. I latch on like a bulldog to a juicy bone and don’t let go until what I do is of a quality I can be proud of. I don’t do that for teachers, employers, or bosses. I simply do it, because it makes me feel happy and good about myself.
First writing and now publishing my book is another one of these challenges I have taken on with 100% intensity. I am pouring all of my passion and tenacity into ‘The Fortunate Nomad’. I am diving in deep, spending every free minute writing proposals and query letters (so far it’s been twenty-eight). And as I enter ever deeper into the unknown, I feel more alive than ever before. I feel positive. I feel whole. I am happy.