Travel Inspires the Literary


March has been a trying month for writing. It’s also been inspired. Such is the conundrum formed by moving to a foreign country and commencing a full-time job within the same week.

Along with an overabundance of unclaimed time that I never can quite enjoy while staying in the US, gone are the days of uninspired writing. While staying in Ohio and Tempe over winter (in the northern hemisphere) it was all I could do to get out a professional blog post, let alone one for my own blog. It was all I could do to write a journalistic article for my Hong Kong publisher. And heaven forbid I actually complete composing and/or editing any literary work. Everything sort of blends together. Little passion or inspiration comes long for the taking.

Peru, conversely, fuels my literary side. During my six-months in Lima last year, I started or advanced almost half a dozen literary essays and memoir pieces. Since the day of departure from the US on Thursday, 1 March, I’ve begun and completed composing two essays, a Q&A with a newly publisher writer, two professional blog posts, advanced editing of a third essay, and (as of this writing) am on my ninth ATW blog post for March. (All without reliable Internet connectivity for two weeks.) In addition I’ve sent out three submissions. Let’s hope that doesn’t turn into more, as I’m particularly wanting this Q&A to be accepted by the journal last submitted to. (Admittedly here lies a bit of humblebraggadocio.)

Considering my new full-time job started on 5 March, it’s surprising that I’ve accomplished even what writing I have. My free hours have plummeted since days in the US like Wiley Coyote down a canyon wall. There is no more self-pitying time than when the literary spark hits an obstacle like time commitments. The experience has me rolling my eyes less frequently over the number of I’m-too-busy-to-write posts available online. Rolling eyes has turned to empathizing.

Anyway, here’s an update about a piece cooking up in my literary kitchen, a CNF piece limited to 750 words.

This may be one of the most difficult pieces I’ve ever written. Then again, I could say that about anything I’m working on because each gives me courage to dig further and further into myself. They also give me ability to distance myself further and further away from the subject matter, in turn letting the piece become literature.

Lessons: To have the courage to stay in nonfiction rather than chickening out and pretending it’s fiction, which lends authors the ability to vent and to lie. The tight envelope of 750 words imposed by the publication that inspired this piece rather constricts. It also helps to write single moments poignantly, like time-lapse videos of water drops or insect action.

This length urges writers to choose content and verbiage wisely, perhaps more poetically, to use more skillful double entendres. “Keep it tight and honest,” Hemingway might have said.

As my first third-person piece, I’m elucidated to distance myself from the subject matter– a confounding, emotional one– to tell a story, not merely to dwell on me (as I’m doing ever so lengthily here).

Status: Composed all but complete; major editing required before submitting before the publication’s deadline.

As March closes, and this I-perspective blog post, thanks are in order. The flame of inspiration illuminates my days. Balance has not evaded me; I’m able to slow down when the flame becomes a torchthrower. My new job usurps more time and energy than expected yet has resulted in better planning and daily structuring, more productivity in literary output and quality, and clarity in other aspects of life.

4 thoughts on “Travel Inspires the Literary

  1. Nichole L. Reber Post author

    I’ll go with you and your kewl lady if you go to New Zealand. ;)
    Are you kidding about your writing? You write all day at work then come home and bust out blog posts for almost every day of the month. Oye! I just can’t do that– nor do I want to. Last year when I made the conscious decision to relax my own requirements on the blog, I felt much better about it. Today it’s often difficult to write anything on it because so much of what I write I’m hoping to turn into something literary.
    A current struggle for ATW is that sometimes it feels like a personal journal. Other times it feels like a sales gimmick.
    You, however, remain impressive consistent– both in tone and in frequency. Congratulations.

    1. Wandering Justin

      You’re too kind, if unduly harsh on your own blog. Speaking of more literary stuff, I am having some itches to do something like that. I want to experiment with going places I don’t usually go with my writing … places that make me a bit comfortable. I’ll shoot an e-mail your way about it.

      1. Nichole L. Reber Post author

        Wow! That piques my interest. Nothing I’m writing, save my blog posts and occasional journalism, makes me feel comfortable right now. I realized after “Burqa” how easy it would be to become rote like Johns Irving and Grisham. Learning to be formulaic is how writers stop creating and start seeing large dollar signs; it’s also what kills them.
        For my current pieces, there’s a new technique I’m either first attempting or working to strengthen. And it’s to that land of writing I’m going once I’ve finished business for the day.

  2. Wandering Justin

    Uh, oh … now you have me thinking about how much I write. It makes me want to take a month off!

    Best of luck on the new job. I keep hoping that some publisher some New Zealand whisks me off to Wellington.


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