I have always wanted to be one of those people who can write while traveling. I have tried before – writing on the road when we PCS’d cross-country; writing in my old bedroom at my mom’s house; writing on friends’ couches or in desk chairs in hotel rooms. The success rate is hit or miss.
This week, I traveled to San Diego. I rode down via Amtrak on the first of a string of uncharacteristically rainy days. Amtrak recently made super huge waves in the writing community by announcing that it is developing writing residencies aboard long-distance routes; writers can receive free fare in exchange for writing for the duration of their travel.
I was prepared to write on my trip; I had articles to pound out for Food Riot, and a story knocking around in my brain. But instead of writing, I sat next to a delightfully chatty lady from Anaheim, and we talked about family and natural remedies of healing illness and food and art and writing. I spent half of my train ride talking with her, and when she left, I told myself it was time for business.
I took out my notebook, put in my earbuds, and closed out the rest of the train. But in the end, all I could do was read a book I’m reviewing, and stare out the window, and take pictures of the rain and the ocean.
Once in San Diego, I came down with a nasty chest cold. While Amanda went to work each morning, I stayed in bed and coughed and generally felt sorry for myself. But once the worst of it passed, I ventured out. I wandered off base to the local Panera, and I got a hot cup of tea. The cashier recommended the mango ceylon tea to soothe my scratchy throat. And I sat, and I wrote.
There’s a magic feeling, the recognition of a small miracle, when writing happens during travel. The slow mornings, the beautiful surroundings (Coronado is a slice of picturesque SoCal Heaven), the tea, the quiet, the solitude – it all made for writing, and that made me happy.
So this week, for the Slow Sunday Jam, I’m sharing articles I read this week that made me happy to be a writer.
Slow Sunday Jam
- Eudora Welty is one of my favorite writers. Her collection of short stories, A Curtain of Green, was one of the first I read in graduate school because my teacher, Sheri Reynolds, told me I could learn from her. And I have. And I continue to do so. My friend Mary recommended this article in Garden & Gun about the new book out detailing the restoration of Eudora Welty’s garden at her old family home. I would love to page through this book, almost as much as I’d like to walk through that garden. Almost.
- When I started submitting work to journals, there were no electronic submission systems. I still have work out at New Delta Review and Oxford American, for which I never received a rejection, never again saw the SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) I sent with my submission (that was almost ten years ago; I assume it was a no). Times have changed, but this writer from The Millions feels as nostalgic as I do about the old days of paper submissions. Also the romance of the mail.
- I can’t write when I drink. I have learned this. And there’s science to back up why. Now all I need to do is find someone to grab a beer with me so I can try out this whole “idea phase” theory.
Side note: I’m now a Contributing Editor at Food Riot (woot!!), and this week, I was over there talking about the merits of eating in the car, how to get started with eating seasonally, and really impressive crocheted foods. Check it out!