writing and travel

Wednesday Again

Plane_random_australia_56977_hIt's Wednesday again, in case you hadn't noticed.  And this is the day I devote to a personal post not related to writing.  Or the day I try to devote to a post not related to writing.  It seems like somehow or another everything links back to writing for me.  But anyway….

At this very moment I am sitting in the Portland airport, waiting for a flight to Burbank.  I'm going to Pasadena to visit my friend Mary-Suzanne.  She and I met many years ago at a Creativity Camp put on by Julia Cameron, and have been good friends ever since.  I'm going to stay with her for a week, hang out, eat the wonderful food Suzanne makes, work on my novel, and see my friend Diana.  Also, I shall bask in the 80 degree heat!

I was calculating earlier, and this is my fifth trip this year.  It's my second to southern California (the first in May for my nephew's graduation from law school and wedding).  I've also been to Kansas City twice, and to France for three weeks.  It's really not a lot of travel by many people's standards, but also more than a lot of people do.  

So, I thought it would be fun to do a list of things I like and don't like about travel.  I was going to do things I like and don't like about L.A. but changed my mind because the "don't like" list would be so much longer than the "like" list.

Things I Like

1.  Meeting people.  When we were in Paris in September, we met people from all over the world. These were brief but fun encounters that ended up being memorable nonetheless.  Who knew how many people came to France from Australia?

2.  Getting a new perspective.  This is especially good for writers.  Travel helps you see things in a different way just because your brain expands to encompass all the new stuff it is absorbing.  Or at least that's my theory.

3.  Being present.  When one travels, particularly in a foreign country, you have to stay present and alert.  In France, I'm always straining to understand what people are saying or figure out how to get somewhere.  Once I'm back home, I get complacent and fall into the old routines.

4.  Place inspires me.  I wrote my MFA critical thesis on landscape as character for goodness sake. Certain places inspire my writing and find their way into my novels.  My hometown of Portland is always a setting, and L.A. seems to appear a lot also.  Sun Valley and Santa Fe are perennial favorites. And yes, Paris is an important location in my next novel.

5.  Discomfort.  Let's face it, we are pampered.  And travel puts you into situations that cant you out of your comfort zone.  This is a good thing, as it stretches you.  (And yet, I think it is also the reason that many people do not like to travel.)

Things I don't like:

1.  Airplane travel.  Enough said.  Those long flights from the West Coast to Paris are killer.  But I did discover the joy of watching a million movies on my last long flight home.

2. Jet lag.  Anybody figured out how to mitigate this?  I tried melatonin with no results.  But this year I didn't suffer too bad on the way. I was not able to sleep, and so by the time I got to Pezenas it had been 24 hours and I'd been on a plane and a plane and a train with maybe three hours of sleep here and there.  I was so tired I fell right out.  But for some reason coming back home was brutal.  Felt like it took me forever to recover.

3.  Window seats.  Yes, I like the view, too.  But I also like to drink tons of water on plane flights so that I won't get a headache.  And that means several trips to the bathroom.

4.  Car sickness.  Ask my sister, when I was little I was famous for throwing up on car trips.  None of my sisters or cousins wanted to sit next to me for fear I would vomit on them.  I still have a hard time sitting in the back seat of a car, though I have discovered the wonders of Sea Bands that seem to mitigate most car sickness problems.

That's it!  That's all I've got.  What about you?  Do you like to travel or prefer to stay home?

Because I know you care desperately, here's the first Wednesday post from last week.  (I'm looking for a name for these posts.  Ideas?)

Traveling Discomforts and Mercies

Contrast_tower_toureiffel_14714_hWhen you read this, I'll likely be sitting on an airplane from Seattle to Paris.  It'll be cramped and the flight attendants will be speaking in French and I'll have no idea what they're saying and the person next to me will look like they just got out of prison, or the hospital.

Yeah, you're not feeling too sympathetic to me, are you?

Because, Paris.

And the south of France.

I know.  I can't wait.

But just because I'm gone doesn't mean the blog won't continue.  As mentioned in a previous post, I hope to be able to blog from Pezenas, unlike last year when I got to France and realized you can't freaking blog from an Ipad.  And I have at least one guest post scheduled.

Also–there's seven years of content, over 1,000 articles to explore on this site.  (One of these days I've got to figure out a better way to organize it.  I've tried and failed in the past.)

And before I leave, I want to say something about travel that bears on writing.  One word:


I've realized that a lot of what we fear in travel is discomfort.  We fear not being able to communicate, sleeping in an uncomfortable bed, eating weird food and drinking water that makes us sick.  Getting lost or missing a plane.  

And then when one or more of those things happens, we realize its not that bad.  And then you feel really good for having worked through the discomfort.  All of which adds up to something my wise friend Mayanna said yesterday: "I've learned that I have to do things that scare me."

And sometimes traveling is scary, or at least anxiety-producing.

Much like writing, no?

So next time you're in the middle of a writing session and you stop, paralyzed with fear because it has suddenly occurred to you that what you are writing sucks beyond repair, remember that a little discomfort is good.  Because it forces us to go places we've not been, whether in the real world or your writing world.

And remember how much better you'll feel once you have pushed through it.

So, what about you?  Do you like to travel?  Where's the most recent place you've traveled to?

Photo by Shawn Allen.