The Travel Writer-in-Process by Lauren Wilson

Political_World_Map_Ireland

I used to think that spending two weeks at home is more than enough time for a Christmas break—I’m usually more than ready to go back to school and my friends and enjoy the freedom that college allows.

That was before I had spent four months living in India though, and long before I had wrapped my head around the fact that I was about to leave for Ireland for another five months. With those facts looming over my head, two weeks was a terrifyingly short amount of time. Between the holiday celebrations, shopping trips I needed to make to get the necessary gear for Ireland (I somehow still managed to get to Galway without a rain jacket though…), and all of the different relatives I had to see, it felt like there wasn’t a whole lot of time for anything—much less writing.

I have now been in Ireland for a little less than a month and I haven’t written a single thing. Nothing about India, Ireland, or the holidays. I haven’t even done proper journaling. My poor little red moleskin journal who has followed me so faithfully around the world hasn’t seen more than a few quick scribbles here and there, much less any formulated notes on my experience. There are too many new things to see, too many bookshops to visit, pubs to try out, too many streets to wander down. The lure of Galway’s Latin Quarter with cobblestoned streets and musicians at every turn is one that I am unable to ignore. I have finally got a normal class schedule again (I’m back to lectures that take place twice a week, rather than four hours of the same class every morning), but none of my classes require writing until the end of the semester. Even then, none of it is creative writing. So it would seem as though I’m in the same situation as last semester—stuck with no incentive to write while I’m in Ireland. So I’ve had to come up with a few reasons of my own.

With stable access to Internet comes the ability to look for journals looking for student submissions. Some of them even pay, and Lord knows any college student could use that. So, to help give myself some incentive, most of my time spent on the computer is used looking for where I can send my next piece, and especially what topics editors are looking for submissions in. Even if nothing gets accepted, having a deadline to work with and a new topic that someone wants me to write about is enough of a challenge for my overly-competitive self to sit down and get to work. Even if nothing gets published, it’s still a good way to make myself write about new things and even look for new ways to do so. So far, I’ve found two that look like something I can do (if anyone has any ideas on others, I’d love to hear about them), and in addition to that, I’ve set a goal to fill the new journal I brought with. I might not specifically write about everything I’m experiencing here now, but if I can write it all down now, then I will be able to write about it all later. My journal has found itself a new home inside my purse, and if I have a few minutes between classes all start to catch up on things I haven’t jotted down yet. Also, I have no shame in pulling out my journal when sitting in a pub. I’m working on getting details of all of my favorite pubs and cafes while I’m sitting in them. Who knows, it could make an interesting essay someday.

So for now, I’m going to write what I can, read as much as possible (you have to read good writing to write good writing, according to Concordia’s English department), and have as many new experiences as I possibly can. I’m already planning adventures for the coming months (Greece for Easter break? Sounds good to me!) and my reading list for the classes I’m taking is long enough without adding my own books to the list. Between genre studies and a class on modernist/postmodernist writing, I’ve joined a sort of Book-a-Week club. AroundtheWorldcvrOn my shelf I currently have The Time Machine, Around the World in Eighty Days, Hamlet, The Driver’s Seat, Silas Marner, Mrs. Dalloway, Pale Fire, Herland, Ten Days in a Mad House, and Alice in Wonderland.

The list of my own books is a little shorter. The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost by Rachel Friedman is there, along with Hemmingway’s A Farewell to Arms, The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley, The Only Street in Paris by Elaine Sciolino, and I have my eye on Alone on the Wall by Alex Honnold, and a book on maps and how they affect our lives. It’s only a matter of time before I cave and pick those two up to add to my collection. With all of this going on, I’m going to focus on enjoying my time here, and I’ll write about it all eventually.

***

LaurenWilsonEditorial Assistant Lauren Wilson is a junior at Concordia College, double-majoring in English writing and global studies. After study abroad experiences to Scotland, England, and France, she’s pursuing her interests in travel writing. She’s spending her junior year abroad: Fall 2015 in India, Spring 2016 in Ireland, and Summer 2016 in Australia. She will be posting monthly about being a writer-in-progress abroad.

3 thoughts on “The Travel Writer-in-Process by Lauren Wilson

  1. “You have to read good writing to write good writing…” Very true. You can always tell when a writer doesn’t read much, or when what they read is of poor quality. Self-published books often evince this, but a lot of work published by minor imprints of major publishers seem to show this, too. Reading widely in many genres will only serve to improve your own skills and make your work lighter while making your product more palatable to a larger audience.

    A teacher of mine a million years ago gave some of the best writing advice I’ve ever encountered: “Even if you think you have little to say, put pen to paper and just write. Make yourself write for at least ten minutes and see what happens.” She was on to something. Perhaps only a glimmer of what you want to say will come through, but the practice itself is key. You can re-read it later and find the gems, then re-write and edit and write some more.

    Writing while traveling can be difficult; perhaps because you are acutely aware that your time IN the place is limited, you may feel compelled to experience so much that you almost forget to write. But your little moleskin in your purse is going to be your best friend later. So do that thing: jot a few lines when you’re in the pub. Even just a few impressions. And, while you’re at it, take a few photos. Ask the bartender if you can take a selfie together after a good conversation. Get that nice older couple to snap a few of you at a monument or a particularly beautiful landscape. You will be so glad you did later, and those visuals will help you recall day-to-day details later when you think you’re stuck mid-paragraph. I’ve traveled several hundred thousand miles (about 750k), driving solo around the US, in the last 20 years. The photo documentation is incredibly helpful in recalling the most interesting snippets of those treks. I wish I’d taken more in thebeary years. Now, a month-long trip, aided by the beauty of high-res smartphone cameras, will yield five or six thousand pictures! It seems excessive, and most of them only have meaning to me, but that level of documentation is crucial to the historical research I do and makes for stunning comparisons when I return to a site in a different season or a later year.

    Best of luck to you in your travels, your studies, and your writing! You’re off to a great start.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s