At the end of a travel day, journal about the events, people, and places you encountered.
In “Launch Your Travels” blog, the independent traveler Jen made several suggestions that a woman traveling alone can do in the evenings. It is rich with ideas for not only her niche audience, but for other travelers as well.
I had one thing to add to her suggestions, I’d like to share it with you here. If you do nothing else but this at the end of each day, you will have succeeded as being a thoughtful, purposeful, intentional traveler.
Journal about your travels. During dinner alone jot some notes while waiting for your meal to arrive. Make more full bodied reports of your travels that day after returning to your lodging. Here are some ideas to consider writing about.
Record a conversation you had with a child, stranger or tour guide.
Describe a place, person you met, or an experience you had, using all your senses.
Write your reactions (emotions, thoughts, challenged beliefs) to what you encountered during this day.
Reflect on a theme you set for your journey (i.e., as big as history or architecture, as small as slang or t-shirt sayings).
Report your progress on an intention you set for yourself before traveling (such as do something each day you’ve never done before or practice your second language with locals).
How do you define adventure, escapade, exploration, quest, or venture?
An adventure can be the outdoor, physically demanding kind. Like climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, mountain biking, or canoeing the North Woods. But not all of us are that physically fit or daring. Many of us travel for other kinds of adventures. One of mine is to learn to pay attention to what I experience.
How do you define travel adventure for yourself?
Chiapas from the back of a van
One year, at the invitation of two other women, I went along from Isla Mujeres to practice paying attention while seeing another part of Mexico, the southernmost state of Mexico, Chiapas. Once there we decided to take a tour to three different scenic and historical sites in a single day. What we did not calculate was the amount of time we would be in the van.
We left at 4:30 a.m., got home at midnight, spent 3 hours at three sites total, hurried through meals to ensure a potty stop, and bounced on the back axle of the van the rest of the trip.
My biggest surprise was not the beauty, or the history learned at the three sites, but what I gleaned from the back window of the bus about the way people lived in Chiapas.
Each household had cleared a spot in the tropical forest and built a house on an earthen plot with no vegetation. The houses, painted or not, sat enclosed by jungle. Most yards accommodated a large, non-specific breed of dog, some on a chain, others not. Yet they all barked at whatever passed by and barked with the children who played in the dusty yards. Even at a distance I could see happy kids in tattered clothing. Occasional goats, chickens, or other farm animals roamed free, well-fed and housed in an open shed or simply in the yard.
Because the houses were built close to the road and there was nowhere else to play, homeowners had laid massive nautical ropes in front of their homes. Much higher than most speed bumps and without the merging incline and leaving decline on each side, they made for a torturous journey. Therefore, our ride took the rhythm of down-shift, slow down, (first axle) up and over, then (back axle) up and over again, shift, and speed away. Parents and extended family settled on protecting their children’s safety over the convenience of tourists or even other locals.
As we returned in the fading sunlight, a single light bulb lit the interior of homes. We could tell because they left the doors and windows open for air—their native air conditioning. Inhabitants circled a table under that light bulb for dinner, reading and/or homework, sewing, or other life requirements.
I could see bare necessities were all they had, but they looked cheerful and well-fed to me. They seemed determined to make a life with little at hand.
Americans often feel denied if we don’t have the right brand of clothing, the best margarita on vacation, or a bonus at the end of the year. Often we find it tough to be happy with blessed lives.
From the back of the bus, I could see their poverty, joy, and ability to make the most of what they had.
Is your adventure to try using your rusty French or German, or your newly acquired Japanese; eat different foods than you normally would; or simply to write about your experiences in your journal to turn them into stories later? Any of these and many more can lead you to discoveries you would not have imagined before.
How do you define adventure for yourself? Please send an answer to that question so others can consider it, too.
Two steps back. I learned this week that submissions to two publications were rejected. That’s disappointing as a writer, but it is the nature, life, and supposed progress of writing.
One Step Forward
One step forward. Publishers of the Saturday Writers’ 2020 anthology, Decades in Writing, informed me that I can pre-order copies of the book for my purposes early at a reduced cost, as contributor. Now that’s progress to me.
Last February I placed second in a monthly writing contest that addressed the decade of 1900-1910. The first chapter of my novel, not yet published, Song of Herself, won as a stand-alone story entitled, “Tuck Tail or Sail.” You will find it on pages 99-104. My writing can be found in their 2011 anthology as well.
Saturday Writers Could be your Success Story
If you are a poetry writer or prose writer of personal narrative or fiction, consider Saturday Writers writing contests for a likely place to get published. Their logo states: Writers Encouraging Writers. It’s true.
Are you ever in a crunch when you don’t have time for your writing group to critique your work? Working on your own and your client says your work sounds too repetitious? Wish you could see the problems in your own work that you see in other’s? Then this post is a first step for you.
Editing your own writing—to find the problems and develop solutions for them—is work. Often, revision is not considered the fun part of writing, but it can be when we see the results of our hard-won success.
While teaching a writing course this month, I have included an assessment of our sentence structures. This will help us see the multiple ways we start sentences and how we can add variety to our sentences and paragraphs to improve readability.
I decided to apply the assignment for my students to my own work as an illustration. When I did that, I saw my example essay still needed revision. So I went to work to get it ready for submission to publications.
Let me offer the assignment and then two paragraphs from my illustrative essay. One paragraph is varied, so I will not make changes; on the other hand, the second one needs work.
Analyze each paragraph in your story to see if your sentences start in a variety of ways to create interest for the reader.
Subject-verb structure. EX. He walked away. She ran to town.
Prepositional phrase. EX. For too long, we’ve put up with this. With that said, I left.
Transition word. EX. However, I concede. Subsequently, the lady gave in.
Gerund or “-ing” word. EX. Hunting for shoes, I found a new dress.
Conjunction phrases. EX. While shopping for shoes, I found a dress. Because life is difficult, we stumble on.
Incomplete sentences. EX. Right on time. Never again. For the cause.
EXAMPLE #1 FROM MY OWN WORK
This paragraph is taken from a story when I was fifteen-years-old, trying to find the right souvenir to take home to my mother from my first trip abroad.
Finally, my eyes land on world globes. One would mean a lot to Mom because we study missions at church. Like her, I enjoy learning geography by studying the world map and learning about other cultures by reading about missionaries in other countries. Mom has rarely been outside of Arkansas—me either until now.
Assessment of sentence variety for purposes of revision (3 of the 6 types of sentence starts)
Sentence #1 Transition word or phrase
Sentence #2 Subject/verb
Sentence #3 Conjunction word or phrase
Sentence #4 Subject/verb
EXAMPLE #2 FROM MY OWN WORK
The following paragraph also is taken from the same story.
Some globes stand on the floor; others sit on tabletops. The globes look like they were made from old-world parchment, like expensive antiques. The wooden stand in which one sets would suit our house—and Mother. She will smile when she pulls it out of the box and exclaims, “I love it.”
Analysis (1 of the six ways to start sentences–pretty boring)
Sentence #1 Subject/verb
Sentence #2 Subject/verb
Sentence #3 Subject/verb
Sentence #4 Subject/verb
REVISION ON EXAMPLE #2
There are infinite ways to make the revisions, but here is one attempt to add variety to my sentence structures in a single paragraph.
While a few globes stand on the floor; others sit on tabletops. Leaning toward the latter, I like the ones that have an old-fashioned, weathered look. The maple wood frame in which one sits would suit our house. And suit Mother. I can imagine her opening it. After prying open the box, she’ll pull it out and look at me to exclaim, “I love it.”
Assessment of sentence variety (5 of the 6 types of sentence starts–and less boring)
Sentence #1 Conjunction
Sentence #2 Gerund (-ing word)
Sentence #3 Incomplete sentence
Sentence #4 Subject/verb
Sentence #5 Preposition
That’s the fun of revision, to make your writing easier to read for your audience.