A month abroad goes something like this:
Home → Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh, Scotland → Oslo, Norway
Oslo, Norway → Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh, Scotland → London, England
London, England → Prague, Czech Republic
Prague, Czech Republic → Vienna, Austria
Vienna, Austria → Heidelberg, Germany
Heidelberg, Germany → Strasbourg, France
Strasbourg, France → Dover, England
Dover, England → York, England
York, England → Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh, Scotland → Home
In photos, it looks something like this:
In words…well, I don’t have any.
There are no words for how I felt standing by the bonfire on Calton Hill during the Beltane Festival in Edinburgh.
No words for walking a character’s steps in London.
No words for the view of Prague from the top of the palace steps, or Vienna’s museum quarter with its majestic architecture.
No words for the cozy streets of Heidelberg, tucked into the hills, or the trains gliding through familiar France, or the strange stillness of the grey English channel.
There are no words for those things. Or if there are, I haven’t found them. I haven’t wanted to, just yet.
But in the months leading up to the trip, and during the month abroad, I’ve been asked one question more than any other: WHY. Why did I do this? Surely there’s a reason. In truth, there are three.
And since I’ve only given little snippets of an answer, I thought I would take the time to try and explain.
If you’ve followed the blog for more than a month or two, you know I have wings tattooed behind my anklebones, both as a nod to Hermes and a reference to my persistent wanderlust. I have a very, very hard time sitting still. It makes me feel static and small in the worst way. Moving, experiencing, making wrong turns and right turns and seeing the world, it makes me happy. Much happier than buying clothes or shoes or a house or whatever else people use money for. I’m lucky in that right now I only have to worry about supporting myself, so I have the freedom to (scrimp and save and budget and plan to use) my resources for travel. Besides, I subscribe to the adage that you can’t write about life if you spend life writing. Yes, I spend a vast, vast amount of time writing, but I would rather do it on a boat or a train or tucked in the corner of a foreign cafe than sitting at my kitchen counter (though incidentally, after a month abroad, I am sooooo looking forward to my counter).
I’ve been thinking about moving to Scotland. Yes, really. One of the best things about my job—one day I will do an honest post about the pros and cons because both are manifold but today is not that day—is the geographic freedom it affords. I don’t have to live in a specific place in order to write books. Two years ago I moved to England for three months and lived in a shed in someone’s back yard (it was all I could afford) while writing THE ARCHIVED simply because I wanted a change of scenery. As a full-time author (a title I hold onto by writing multiple books a year, and one I don’t anticipate to last forever), and one without a husband/S.O/children, I can truly take advantage of the lack of locational confines. So I do. I first visited Scotland a couple years ago, and fell instantly in love. I wanted to confirm that I still felt that love, and I do.
The first two weeks of the trip, which were spent in Scotland with an author friend, were purely for fun (though I wrote a short story, a proposal, and more than 10k of a book, so, I mean, productive fun), the entire second half of the month abroad was actually a research trip for a new book. It took a great deal of careful planning and budgeting, and I’ll likely be spending the rest of the summer eating ramen, but it’s been totally worth it. As for the project itself, the only thing I’ve said about it, and the only thing I will say until it’s written, is that it’s about a twisted love affair between a French girl and the devil. It’s set largely in present-day Brooklyn, but the story is spread over three centuries in Europe, so…yeah.
That’s why I went to Europe.
I wanted to see things.
I wanted to try things.
I wanted to breathe and eat and drink and feel inspired.
I wanted to live in the future and look at the past and I wanted to jot notes on every scrap of paper I could find and feel breathless and remember that I love what I do.
And in two days, this weary little traveler will return home to her kitchen counter feeling all of those things and more.
And ready to write.