Posted in Travel, Travel Writing, Women traveling

Travel Back in Time

On vacation last month we traveled to visit friends in Wisconsin we had not seen in many years. As we followed the Wisconsin highway and turned onto a two-lane county road, then to the unpaved road into the forested overhang of our friend’s retreat home on Lake Michigan, we knew we were almost there. As it is with old friends, we fell into old habits of eating, drinking, story telling, reminiscing, filling our glasses again and catching up on the years in between. 

A TRIP DOWN ANOTHER MEMORY LANE

But I must interrupt our current good time to walk the dog, Murphy, who travelled with us. So he and I trekked back up the long driveway to our friend’s house and I was transported to the Scottish Highlands, particularly the Isle of Skye.

I had visited the isle decades ago, where eight other tourists and I missed the last ferry of the day for the mainland. We ended up spending a night at the inconvenience of locals who found lodging for each of us, couples, singles (like myself traveling alone), and singles traveling together.

We spent a riotous dinner together laughing about how we had become so entranced by the island that we simply forgot to catch the ferry. At least I was not alone. 

The road Murphy and I walked that day took me back in time to why I missed the ferry. In wandering the lush undergrowth that was so mysterious then, I decided–just knew in my bones–that elves had to exist on that island.

Did they call them pixies, sprites, fairies, leprechauns (no, that would be Irish)? 

I could not see them, but I just knew (without really knowing) they could see me. They were watching my every move. And here again in this forest near the shores of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin I could feel their presence then and there again. 

I WONDERED 

Were they observing me from the turn of the underside of a fern? 

How small were they and how many were there? 

 

Did they sit and twitter with each other about how funny we look and sound? 

Could they leap from leaf to leaf to get a better view of us? 

 

And did they listen from the creases of a tree?

Could they hide in the center of a flower, seeing us without being seen?

TRAVELING BACK IN TIME

I will never know the answers, but I will remember that unexpected overnight stay on the Isle of Skye. And then how my time in Wisconsin took me back, just as our drive had taken us back in time to visit old friends. What joys!

A TRAVELER’S QUESTION

When you travel what kind of alertness do take with you to explore even the mundane? 

 

 

 

Posted in Craft of writing, Memoir writing, Revision, Travel Writing, Writing exercises, Writing Groups

Endings: The Power and Types of Endings

ENDINGS. Philip Lopate in To Show and To Tell talks about a typology of endings. Here are the kinds that he mentions. This is a summarized list and paraphrased in some cases by me. My travel writing group that meets every two weeks, discussed this list in our last Zoom time together. We are eager to use this list and see where it takes us in add the power and punch of a satisfying ending. Join us in discussing these through this blog post.

Step #1: Identify the type of ending you have used in one of your last stories. 

  1. An image (metaphorical or real)
  2. A pithy saying in a clever or humorous way
  3. A line of dialogue 
  4. A joke (use this one with care)
  5. A question
  6. A quote
  7. An ellipsis (…)
  8. A return of a refrain or a different spin on the phrase 
  9. A new insight
  10. A resolve
  11. A sigh, a shrug, a sudden mood change
  12. A platitude, ONLY IF it is humorous or non-preachy 
  13. A summary in the form of a series of semicolons
  14. Restating conflicting elements (ideas, images, thoughts, etc.) and how to live with them 
  15. ________________________________
  16. ________________________________
  17. ________________________________

Step 2: Develop multiple endings to your next story by trying several of these types of endings. 

Step 3: Choose three of your favorite endings you have written. Think through those and select the most impactful for your story.

Step 4: Add to these types of endings overtime from your own experience and from your reading of others work.

Which ones have you used? Which ones would you like to use in the future? Which ones have you added to this list? I’m curious to learn what you think about the types of endings to our stories.

Posted in journal writing, Memoir writing, Travel Writing

Journal Writing about your Travel Day

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).
Posted in Craft of writing, fiction, Travel Writing, Workshops, Writing exercises, Writing Workshops

Flash Fiction

The Story Behind the Story 

The story behind a story, I recently had published The City that Stole His Daughter, offers insight into the kind of an exercise that can stoke the imagination of a writer.

The Exercise 

In Rolf Potts‘ course, Travel Writing as Memoir, in October 2019 sponsored by Santa Fe Workshops, he set before us a “pyschogeography” exercise to prompt the imagination as a flaneur, wandering not so aimlessly through the streets of San Miguel de Allende.

We were to select a color — I picked blue. Wander the street to find the first instance of the color while walking the streets and follow it until it disappeared or ran out of sight. Then pick up the next element of blue and follow it until I walked past it or it fell out of sight. Again and again until a story or fragments came into being.

 The Outcome

This process led me to notice a man on a park bench with his hat tipped to shade the sun with a big fat yellow lab asleep underneath. I imagined he had come to the city to see an adult son or daughter who had left the countryside for a better way of life.

I sauntered to a yellow coffee shop with a lavender blue door and shutters, Lavanda, for lemonade and asked for the owner. The manager, Karla, came to visit me about where they purchased their lavender and leapt to the topic of “specialty” coffee.

I recall her excitement as she told me, “Our coffee is fair trade. It is good for the farmer, the roasters, the coffee shop, and our clients. It is a win-win for everyone. It makes a good economy for our community. When asked by customers if our coffee is organic, I must tell that that ‘Yes, it is farmed without pesticides and with the old ways of tilling the fields and harvesting, but sadly no, our government does not regulate for an organic label’.”

When I combined the image of the old man and my imagined story of him with the enthusiasm of Karla about speciality coffee, I had my story.

The Resulting Story

I have submitted the story to contests and for publication several times, revised it each time a bit, and then won honorable mention by WOW! Women on Writing in early 2020 but it was not published. I submitted it for review and feedback by Flash Fiction Magazine and then received substantial recommendations to make changes. They published my 1000-word flash fiction, The City that Stole His Daughter, this week, August 18, 2020. Thanks to Flash Fiction Magazine.