John Gardener, a teacher of mine, once said that there are only two plots in all of literature. You go on a journey or a stranger comes to town. Men got to write about going to sea, to war. Women’s literature from Austen through Virginia Woolf was mostly about staying home and awaiting the stranger. I have never been fond of waiting and years ago I decided that I would go on a journey. In all of my travels I have kept careful journals. I have over seventy of them and I have never lost a single one – though I have lost money, luggage, passports, and more along the way. Once I used one as collateral to rent a paddleboat on the Vlatava River. Once I risked imprisonment at the Soviet border by hiding a journal that was probably going to be confiscated. And once in France I kissed a man who ran off a train to give me the one that I almost left behind.
All of my writing begins in these journals. I start my short stories and novels in these pages. And all of the writing in my soon to be five travel memoirs is in these pages. ( NOTHING TO DECLARE, was named by a travel blog one of the top ten travel books of the 20th Century along with On The Road.) I also draw and paint in my journals. Travel for me is always a creative experience perhaps more than anything else.
In my blog, The Writer and the Wanderer, I write about travel, literature. I include my watercolors and photographs, but here is a sampling.