Tick. Tock. The countdown continues. 5 months and 1 week, I jam from these digs. Off to Vancouver for The Grand Farewells, and zipping to Croatia, as my uber-nomadic adventure begins, setting the stage for what’s to be the wildest five years of my life.
I’m relaxing as a homeowner does. Fat pants, juicy red wine, and some Netflix. Billy Crudup flick. Which naturally reminds me of the movie Jesus’ Son. And that led me back to my writing classes with novelist Maureen Medved (The Tracy Fragments). Back then, I wrote a story that was my first hardcore “writing trance” experience — a two-page short story I hope still foreshadows the fiction writer I wanna be. She said it evoked Denis Johnson to her, who had already written Jesus’ Son by then.
And I don’t know, man. Am I that writer? I sure hope so. It’s the dream, right? Tell you one thing, once I’m gone, it won’t be for lack of trying.
The goal is a novel, for which I already know the story in a loose gist, and which I’ll not tell you. But a serious “published by the big kids” kinda novel, not screwing-around-with-ebooks novel. Nothing against ebooks, because I mean to write a lot of them, but I’d just like to know something I dreamed up made it to a trade paper or even hardcover. Publishing non-fiction wouldn’t mean as much. Fiction, that’s the hard stuff. From nothing comes everything.
So, I know what I want. Writing. And the freedom to do it.
And here’s what I think: My trip will be to writing what petri dishes are to lab cultures.
There is no better environment or setting for a writer than getting stimulation of new cultures and landscapes all the time, immersed in old towns, living for 30-50% less money, never mired by silly things like house cleaning (think about it! 5 years, no cleaning!) or home maintenance, no friends or family or obligations to screw up the writing mojo. It’s every writer’s dream life. I’ll have more time, more money, more newness around me, more inspiration, and no “real life” distractions outside of what I can resolve on the web, thanks to appointing a legal representative back home.
The Choices We Make
I had a big “I don’t want kids” discussion on Facebook recently. I don’t want kids. Don’t worry, I’ve given it LOTS of thought. I’ll be 42 by the time I leave, and believe me, there’s been no second-guessing yet. I decided this 30 years ago as a kid, and it holds true. I want freedom. I want travel. I want a creative life. I want my voice to be what I live for.
But it’s for an adventure like this, the writing life, that I opted out from having kids. It wasn’t so I could live the same routine life year after year, which is what I was trapped in for a long time. I made the childless choice so I could have freedom. Forever. It’s just taken a long time to get the nerve and find a good path of my own.
Fact is, the longer I put off a writing life, the more soul it feels slips away from me. Some of us are meant to do what we’re meant to do. I haven’t written my best work yet. It’s out there, somewhere across the Atlantic, baking under a hot sun, waiting for me to unearth it.
That’s what travelling does for some folk, and I’m in their number. Travel opens up ideas and understanding and patience, all things needed for a well-examined life. And a writer leading an unexamined life is no good writer at all.
Nights like this, I get goosebumps and heart palpitations. I’m scared I’ll drive folk nuts with travel talk, but honestly, I’ve never been this excited about anything in my life. Five years, no limits, no expectations, complete freedom.
I know I “write” for a living a bit now, but there’s a big difference between chasing a paid gig versus writing what you’re moved by and selling it for what it is. Passion projects are one thing, but when they bankroll a dream life, it’s a raison d’etre. Imagine channelling all that during a bucketlist adventure like mine.
Imagine it is all I do now. Think of the amazing writers who found their groove abroad. From just one 15-year period in Paris — Henry Miller, Ernest Hemingway, Paul Bowles, Gertrude Stein, Anais Nin, F Scott Fitzgerald, and the list goes on. What about folks like Graham Greene, Hunter S. Thompson, Malcolm Lowry, and all the others who’ve been to other places? I don’t hear about a lot of writers who become great without those experiences.
Other writers may be able to stay at home and pound away at keys, churning out great copy, but I think many of us need to be plugged into The Big Machine to find something worth saying.
I’ve kept my head above water so far, but I’m sinking in my sameness. Luckily there’s something new to swim for, come October.
That’s it, that’s what I’m leaving for — every writer’s secret dream. A life abroad, living cheap, writing constantly, drinking wine, baking in the sun, creating the best work of their life. If you really love writing, like I do, you don’t need the Big Life. You just need a Different Life.
And that’s what’s next.
Yeah. Sometimes I get too excited. Shivers! Goosebumps! There are worse problems to have. Excitement, hope… these feel good.
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