I was traveling last week, and whenever I travel I eat too much. I have only recently observed this because I have been travelling more the last year or so. For most of my life, travel was such an infrequent experience that I felt no need to worry myself with such dull daily concerns as diet. All was different. Every view from every car window, plane window, or hotel room was different from the views I knew so well around my home. My bed was different also, as were all the people I met, and the street signs, and the stores. All this difference made traveling exciting. I was an explorer, and the world felt new again. But as any writer who has ever embarked on a book tour of any length well knows, travel can teach you how rooted in familiarity you actually are. My bed, my kitchen, my desk, my chair, my computer – all these unchanging details of my life can become the only palm in which I believe I can ever rest. And so food, the indulgence that sustains me. I must eat as an explorer eats, feeding the vigilance required to find my way through this jungle of the new.
Look how survival can make us fat. Look how the body grows as we fear its extinction. Home again, I return to my chair and my bed and my diet, but I will be traveling again in a few weeks. It would be helpful if I could remember the journey that we call writing. Armed with nothing but coffee I don the pith helmet of thought and begin my exploration.
I have traveled further at my desk than in any plane, train, or car. And no, not to distant lands or Jupiter’s moons or magical kingdoms. I don’t care about distant lands; they are not actually any different than near lands. The earth is round, after all, and so every road eventually leads us home if we follow it long enough. Meanwhile, the best writing is a discipline of economy, an endless search for the quickest rout to life’s only destination.
Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.