From the desk of Daniel Ford: I just got back from London/Dublin and was thinking about something the last couple days in my jet lagged soaked brain. Does travel inspire you to write? I didn't do a whole lot of writing while abroad, but I did have a bunch of ideas I'm eager to test out.
Sean Tuohy: Nope, not really. If anything traveling just gives me settings for future stories. Whenever I travel, and I pass an interesting building or a plaza, I always take a metal picture and file it away. Maybe seeing something or learning some bit of local history will set off a spark but the urge to write isn't there. I like to write in a comfortable setting, some place I am familiar with. The only time I like to travel and write is if I am going somewhere I know well, like Florida or Ibiza.
Daniel Ford: Yeah, I think Ibiza would be high on everyone's writing setting list.
Sean: True, but for me it’s the fact that I am really comfortable at my uncle's house. If I went to Ibiza and went to a hotel to write I don't think I would be comfortable. The house has a great energy and the views from the living room and bedroom are amazing so those mixed together are great.
Daniel: Right, exactly. I can't write in a hotel unless it's super old or charming. There's something too sterile about them. And you're absolutely right on atmosphere. It has to be some place that I can set my coffee down, where I've set it down hundreds of times before, and litter the table or desk with papers (and probably pastries).
Sean: Pastries always help writing. Oddly enough, I had this thought this weekend regarding hotels while I was in a hotel with Rachel. We had a nice corner room with a nice view. If I could drag a table up to the window I would totally write. Because the room was so simple and the view was of a city that I know and love I thought I could write. But would I really? I don't know. Maybe when I sit down it wouldn't be a fit.
Daniel: Let’s ask the rest of the crew!
Gary Almeter: I definitely think it does. Not so much because the Grand Canyon, Shakespeare's birthplace, the ocean, or the Pacific sunset are inspiring (at least not to me though surely to some) but because of the anonymity that comes with traveling. Both the traveler and those he or she sees are doing whatever you think they might be. Why are they hugging at the airport? Where did they come from? What is that person doing here? You tend to make up stories as you see all this. I think cities are inspiring. You see all the people going about their ordinary days while you are vacationing. Where are they going? The sense of alienation also fosters a sense that there is something sketchy going on every corner. Hotels foster this too inherently—like you can’t help but think of all the malfeasance that happened between and amongst the prior inhabitants of that room.
We met a couple on our honeymoon—we didn't exchange addresses or anything—and I always wonder what they are doing now.
Dave Pezza: In my limited experience, it definitely does but not right away. In fact, not close. For me it takes years for those adventures to manifest into something thoughtful and poignant.
"Is the wine complimentary?"
The wine was placed next to the first meal I've had on an airplane. The menu that night was cheese pasta or chicken and rice—I chose the former—with a salad that only consisted of some pieces of iceberg lettuce and half a tomato, a cheese wedge with crackers, a roll with butter, pretzels, and a caramel brownie.
I devoured the pasta, washing it down with the sweet white between bites. Next, I conquered that cheese wedge, which actually turned out to be a nice spread. I couldn't muster up the appetite for the dried, wilting lettuce even though an olive oil and vinegar dressing would have done the trick—it lost all nutrient value at "iceberg."
I leave the unopened salad and roll on the tray, anticipating when the woman with the wine will return.
"Anything else to drink?"
"Can you top me off?"
I hold the cup into the aisle as she pours. She wheels away, and I start to lose myself in a book.
"Life is not a paragraph, death is no parenthesis."
Page seven, and I'm hooked. I give myself until 10:00 p.m. to keep reading, hoping I'm not disturbing the stranger besides me.
I typed that into my iPhone Notes as my plane to Barcelona, Spain, flew over the Atlantic Ocean last month. I wanted to capture moments of my first trip abroad while I was actually experiencing it, but the notes ended as soon as I landed. While I did not write much after that, being a solo traveler in another country, where I barely spoke the language, proved to be an inspiring experience.
I navigated myself somewhat successfully around a new country without the crutch of a trusted GPS-enabled iPhone, made connections with people from lands other than Spain, and became immersed in learning, seeing, smelling, hearing, and feeling the pulse of Barcelona—albeit, with limited time, the culture immersion happened atop a double-decker bus. But I did it all alone. The experience proved to myself that I could do anything and erased the fears writers often face when putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. It made me write without pause, professionally, and re-ignited my desire to write for myself.
Experiencing anything new is always cause for self-examination, and I think travel does that best, which is why it can be so inspiring for many writers.