On Writing

#MondayBlogs: Travel, writing, and inspiration

I have, and will be, traveling a lot . I’ve gone to AWP in Los Angeles and I played assistant saddle fitter in Seattle. I’m gearing up to spend a long weekend with almost all of the other REUTS directors. I’m seeing so much of my country, and I’m seeing the majority of it through the lens of a writer.

I’m being submerged into writer and reader culture in way that I never through I would. But, it’s been in a way I’ve always wanted. Like I’ve said in previous posts, it’s helped me become a more serious member of the literary community. I’m taking chances, I’m pushing myself, and I’m so proud of myself as I see the results come to life.

The thing is, though, traveling isn’t inspiring my writing the way I’m used to.

Normally when I go somewhere I’m completely inspired. I want to spend the entire trip writing. I come up with new ideas, I write fresh words, and I come home hungover from the amount of inspiration I felt by touching down on a tarmac in a different part of the country.

Just like drafts of my works in progress, visiting these places has served as a way to polish who I am. I’m branching out with my reading. I’m looking at words I’ve written and find a better, tighter way to say what I need to.

But inspiration? It’s missing in my life and maybe that’s a good thing.

When I look around my world I don’t see the potential I used to. I’m not hopping between ideas, not giving false-starts to new ideas (despite being able to come up with query letters for them). Travel, instead of pulling me in different directions, has pushed me into one direction: one strong, confident direction.

I’m not saying inspiration won’t strike in any of my upcoming trips. That when I go back to Seattle I won’t be inspired by the ocean and the mountains, or when I go to Milwaukee that seeing a revived rust belt city won’t spark some new idea. But everything that I’m taking in — the new places I’m visiting, the new books I’m reading — is going into my current projects. Each hour spent in the air, in some familiar airport, has helped me to focus my writing. Has helped me to focus who I am as a writer and who I am as a literary citizen. Has helped me to make my own writing a priority.

So as I gear up for my next trip, I’m not going in thinking I’m going to be inspired. I’m going into this trip looking forward to a long layover that I can spend editing and flights I can spend reading. I’m looking forward to spending time surrounded by people in publishing, by writers. If inspiration comes, great. But renewing focus, pushing boundaries, strengthening my skills — that’s what I’m looking forward to the most. That’s what growing as writer is all about.

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