This week, a memory popped up on my Facebook page that catapulted me into wonderful reminiscences from 17 years ago. My beamish girl, so excited to be at the equator! She was eight, partway through grade two. My team and I had work to do in Uganda and I brought her along.
That got me thinking about how things that turn a trip into real travel can sometimes be the same things that turn scribbling into writing. And first and foremost is what Maddy’s teacher seemed to be so sadly lacking: curiosity. If you’re not open and curious about things when you travel, you are going to have many miserable moments. Because much will be outside your control, things will be confusing, it will rain when you’re not prepared for it, no one will have sent you the memo, and you’ll be tired and cranky, and—the same is very true for writing. But curiosity about the world around you will turn up all kinds of shiny treasures and shiny story ideas, just as curiosity about the characters you run into on your travels or invent in your writing will bring them alive. And it just makes everything way more fun! First and always: curiosity.
Another bit of advice did take with my daughter: make friends with the kitchen staff. There we were—the whole team and me—eating over-ripe bananas day after day because nicer fruits weren’t in season, while Maddy, mysteriously, nearly always had a beautifully sliced mango or some other treat. What—how? She had taken my advice to heart and it worked!
And finally, there’s adventure. Things are never going to be what you’d expected, but if, as Helen Keller said, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing,” then finding the adventure in it is one of the keys. On the day we went on that jungle hike, the driver got lost and we drove aimlessly for hours; another day, the bus broke down, leaving us stranded in the dark by the side of the road where we worried that there were snakes in the grass; it was so windy and choppy in the little boat on Lake Victoria; rooms got flooded; and on and on.
And yet. Every one of those uncomfortable situations was an adventure, too; a time for helping each other and bonding and tales told later around a guttering lamp with some beers (mango juice for Maddy). A time for growing and learning. And, for a writer, one can only say, a trove waiting to be turned into treasure!
A shout out to A Spruce Grove/Stoney Plain Book Club who invited me to visit them by Zoom to discuss Mendacities. It was a lovely hour and the members asked me such fun and perceptive questions! It's always an honour to talk with readers about my books.
You can invite me to your book club, too! Just reach out at the link, above, to send me a message about it.