Travel Inspires the Literary

March has been a trying month for writing. It’s also been inspired. Such is the conundrum formed by moving to a foreign country and commencing a full-time job within the same week.

Along with an overabundance of unclaimed time that I never can quite enjoy while staying in the US, gone are the days of uninspired writing. While staying in Ohio and Tempe over winter (in the northern hemisphere) it was all I could do to get out a professional blog post, let alone one for my own blog. It was all I could do to write a journalistic article for my Hong Kong publisher. And heaven forbid I actually complete composing and/or editing any literary work. Everything sort of blends together. Little passion or inspiration comes long for the taking.

Peru, conversely, fuels my literary side. During my six-months in Lima last year, I started or advanced almost half a dozen literary essays and memoir pieces. Since the day of departure from the US on Thursday, 1 March, I’ve begun and completed composing two essays, a Q&A with a newly publisher writer, two professional blog posts, advanced editing of a third essay, and (as of this writing) am on my ninth ATW blog post for March. (All without reliable Internet connectivity for two weeks.) In addition I’ve sent out three submissions. Let’s hope that doesn’t turn into more, as I’m particularly wanting this Q&A to be accepted by the journal last submitted to. (Admittedly here lies a bit of humblebraggadocio.)

Considering my new full-time job started on 5 March, it’s surprising that I’ve accomplished even what writing I have. My free hours have plummeted since days in the US like Wiley Coyote down a canyon wall. There is no more self-pitying time than when the literary spark hits an obstacle like time commitments. The experience has me rolling my eyes less frequently over the number of I’m-too-busy-to-write posts available online. Rolling eyes has turned to empathizing.

Anyway, here’s an update about a piece cooking up in my literary kitchen, a CNF piece limited to 750 words.

This may be one of the most difficult pieces I’ve ever written. Then again, I could say that about anything I’m working on because each gives me courage to dig further and further into myself. They also give me ability to distance myself further and further away from the subject matter, in turn letting the piece become literature.

Lessons: To have the courage to stay in nonfiction rather than chickening out and pretending it’s fiction, which lends authors the ability to vent and to lie. The tight envelope of 750 words imposed by the publication that inspired this piece rather constricts. It also helps to write single moments poignantly, like time-lapse videos of water drops or insect action.

This length urges writers to choose content and verbiage wisely, perhaps more poetically, to use more skillful double entendres. “Keep it tight and honest,” Hemingway might have said.

As my first third-person piece, I’m elucidated to distance myself from the subject matter– a confounding, emotional one– to tell a story, not merely to dwell on me (as I’m doing ever so lengthily here).

Status: Composed all but complete; major editing required before submitting before the publication’s deadline.

As March closes, and this I-perspective blog post, thanks are in order. The flame of inspiration illuminates my days. Balance has not evaded me; I’m able to slow down when the flame becomes a torchthrower. My new job usurps more time and energy than expected yet has resulted in better planning and daily structuring, more productivity in literary output and quality, and clarity in other aspects of life.

By Nichole L. Reber

About Nichole L. Reber

Nichole L. Reber writes about the built environment, the writing business or lack of it, and tales from her usually highly mistake-strewn globetrotting experiences. She has, however, also covered topics as funky and diverse as international business, art, nipple Nazis, state politics, sports psychology, engineering, alternative energy, and the education system. When she’s lucky enough to trick an editor into paying her for writing, she gets published in books, blogs, and magazines around the world such as the Los Angeles Times, Florida Design, Big Builder, and Perspective.

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