Where are you headed?

I’m on a five month road trip around Australia. As fabulous as this is, it comes with many challenges. Often these challenges remind me of the writing life:

  • No matter how carefully you plan where you’re going, you don’t always end up where you expected. Planning is important but accept there will be delays and detours.

  • A lot of time may be spent searching for things that don’t appear. You may climb many steps, walk many trails, without seeing a platypus or quokka. Then a huge flock of endangered white-tailed black cockatoos bursts from the forest. That’s when you realize some unproductive hours have led to this one brilliant moment. Be patient with the process. Don’t stop looking because the first effort didn’t work.

  • The idea of undertaking a huge adventure may seem wonderful at first but there will be moments of doubt. Some days you may even want to quit. Take the adventure one day at a time.

  • Other people may have been where you’re going before you. Ask for advice. Other people can save you a lot of time and disappointment. They also can send you in the wrong direction. Be a discerning listener. Sometimes the voices you hear aren’t the ones to listen to.

  • Sometimes it’s the same thing over and over again. Drive. Unpack. Pack. Drive. The monotony of one day paves the way for great discoveries the next.

  • The journey is not intuitive. You get better at it the more you do it. Practice improves the process.

What have you learned from your latest trip, be it across a continent or across a manuscript?

Photo from Wikimedia: a female, long-billed, black cockatoo (aka Baudin’s Black Cockatoo) at Margaret River, Western Australia by Snowmanradio

Second photo: the road from Pardoo Station Western Australia by Maggie Bolitho

What's the good of writing a blog if you don't post it?

Last month I wrote this blog but forgot to publish it. That’s my life in the constant ebb and flow of travel. Also I’ve been editing my novel Outback Promise when we’ve stopped long enough to set up my computer for more than an hour at a time.

Here’s what I wrote in June. I’ll write this month’s and put it up later in a week or so. It’s important to stay in practice. But more about that later.

June 8th, 2015: I’m in Australia for five months. In the past week alone my husband and I have driven over 1,800 kilometres, visited a dozen national and state parks—more or less—and spent nights in five different locations. This is a holiday right?

Yes and no.

Yes because I’m seeing exciting places that I may never see again.

No because I can’t stop working. My work, of course, is writing.

Writing is also my obsession and compulsion.

And here’s what happens if I let it slide for a day or two: I lose track of my characters. They wander off and have conversations without me. When I get back to the keyboard, they’ve clammed up.

“You weren’t here to listen? Did you expect us to wait until you were ready?” they ask.

Then I have to tease them back to life, work with them until they’re ready to share their secrets again.

They don’t arrive on the page, fully formed. It’s up to me to perform the small acts daily that bring them to life.

What happens when you step away from your keyboard? What takes you away from your work? What brings you back?