Am I Planning a Book?

Occasionally someone will write to me and say they are enjoying ny blog and wonder if I am planning to write a book about My Year of Living Travelly. The answer is simple for me: No.

The answer may be simple, but the reasons are less so.  They have to do first with not wanting to go through the—let’s face it— crap that is involved in publication.

And then, putting together lectures is very time consuming. It doesn’t take me over in the way writing a novel does, but it is still a lot of work.  Since I write out my lectures fully ( basically treating the computer as my audience), just for these Med cruises, I ended up with a stack of printed pages that was actually fatter than a novel.  So yes, I am busy writing. It’s  just of a different kind.

But the main reason I am not writing a book about this experience is that I know it would change it—and me—in ways I don’t welcome. With apologies to poet Archibald MacLeish (“Ars poetica” for all you non-English majors), a Year of Living Travelly should not mean, but be.

In other words, if I were to be thinking about a book, I would feel as if I had to find the point, the lesson, the insight in everything, when I really just want to experience it.  It’s that simple.  Even thinking about writing a book makes me feel weighed down, so I shake it off, in favor of heading out gloriously and happily  not in direct pursuit of deeper meaning.

When the phone runs out of juice, or we leave it behind accidentally, our  whole day changes.  With a camera, we are always trying to frame experience. It is great to see with the photographer’s eye, and in some respects we see more intently, but we also give our attention over to the photos more than the  experience of being there, as if somehow the real experience will come later when we get to the hotel room, or the restaurant, or wherever, and look at images of where we sort of halfway were.

That is  what not writing a book is all about.  It hard for me to be all the way in the moment as it is, and intending to write a book could just make it worse.

The second reason?   It bothers me when people claim to be sad I don’t have plans to write another  book, when they haven’t read the five I have published.  There’s  a “new” book—or books— out there waiting for all those folks without my lifting a finger. In my mind, only those who have read them all have standing to hope I write another.  Yes, I know this book would be different—my personal eat, pray, love—but still, my Year of  Living Travelly is also about figuring out what I owe to others and what I owe to myself.  In this case, the answer is simple. Not a book.