The Author As Traveller
One thing writers need constantly is fresh inspiration, otherwise we end up writing about writers writing. I travel whenever I can, which is to say, when there’s time and money. Living next door to an international railway station (sorry, I can’t bring myself to use ‘train station’) means that I can get anywhere in Europe quickly and cheaply. Equally, I could get to Russia or Africa in four hours, although sadly I won’t be visiting Russia until Putin has gone. Iceland is 90 minutes away, Sweden, Norway and Denmark are little more than a cough and a spit. France is nearer than Cornwall, and less expensive.
By booking in advance and going mid-week, traveling to ‘The Continent’ is also as cheap as chips, and I’ve got to the point where I’ve got to know some of the Easyjet crews. I actually feel like volunteering my services as a spokesperson for them, as the staff are usually terrific, and their inflight magazine, ‘The Traveller’, is genuinely interesting. If anyone’s reading this who works for them, commission me!
But this wanderlust has its downsides; one is that I can never find anyone to go with me; my partner is usually working, and friends prove less adventurous that they say they are, or have to work in offices. There should be a special travel club for homeworkers. A trip shared is always more fun.
And there’s another, far stranger, downside. You start to feel disconnected from your home. Things happen while you’re away. The world moves on while you’re traveling, but in a sense you stand still. You start to miss key events because you’re in the wrong place when they occur. A friend of mine commutes for work between three countries and says he feels like he doesn’t belong anywhere.
Brigid Brophy wrote a bizarre experimental novel which was partially about this suspended sensation, called ‘In Transit’. It can become a dangerous state that eventually leaves you friendless and rootless. Another friend of mine was a war reporter who lived out of a suitcase, and eventually gave up his flat to live on a boat with only a dog for company, thus becoming truly uprooted.
As far as travelling goes, there are huge chunks of the world still to visit – China is unknown to me, as is Australia – and I haven’t been to the South American nations, although having spent time in other Latin countries I do get the feeling that I know what to expect from at least some of them.
Unlike, say, Japan, which is utterly alien to me. Plus, I hate sushi. So tomorrow I’m heading for Tokyo and the bullet train through the rural inland to Kyoto. Consequently, your normal blog service may be broken up a bit, because in certain parts of the trip I don’t have a place to stay yet. Stand by!