Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Writer on the Road

Being a writer on an extended road trip means bringing along things to make you forget that you're leaving behind your writing space, your WIPs, etc. Most of the time this is a good thing (we all need a break from our writer junk) and it's all waiting there when we get back.

For this trip I decided it was high time I got warm and fuzzy with my e-reader, so I left all my physical books at home. I planned to download and read whatever I liked on the road. Actually I was a bit nervous not taking any books, because what if something happened to the e-reader? I'd be stuck watching television every night on the road, which for me actually qualifies as torture. So technology had better save me, yes?

Nope. I jinxed myself. On the first night of the trip my e-reader locked up and wouldn't download anything; I couldn't even open the books I already had stored on the damn thing. Fortunately there was a BAM nearby the hotel, so off I went to shop. I was never able to get the e-reader working, either, so I picked up more books whenever I spotted an interesting indie bookstore, and ended up with this haul in total:

I generally don't buy this many hardcovers, but wherever we stopped I tried to pick up at least one book from the staff-recommended shelves. Booksellers along my route really like expensive literary and crime dramas, it seems. I decided to give Lee Child and Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling wearing her mystery dude suit) another try. I also bought some paperbacks by my writer pals just in case all the newbies-to-me sucked. I finally get why everyone loves Lee Child, and while his Jack Reacher reads like a Tom Cruise on steroids -- maybe that's why he got the role in the movie version -- the outlandish story lines are entertaining. I do think his editor should take a weedword-whacker to all the shrugs and nods used as macho dialogue replacements in his stories, as they get tiresome pretty fast.

I made mostly good choices, too, I think. As I reported from the road Delicious! was pretty awesome, and I'd say the worst read was the Mystery Duded Rowling novel, through which I mostly winced. My take away from that one was, if you want to settle some scores with the literati, best do it in a dignified Salon article rebuttal -- not your fiction.

I also picked up some local and regional news/mag publications whenever I could find them:

The USA Today came from the hotel, and I bought the magazine, but the others were freebies. These can be fun to read when you're traveling, and often quite helpful, too. We found one of the nicest B&B's we stayed at on the trip via the magazine.

Aside from the malfunctioning e-reader, this is all the writer & art junk I brought with me:

My packing rule was, if it doesn't fit in the cigar box, it stays home -- and that really works to keep things to a minium. I did write in my travel journal almost every day of the trip, and painted or sketched every day in my watercolor journal, so they were good choices.

What do you writers out there take with you when you travel? Let us know in comments.


  1. I have a large shoulder bag, sort of like your box: I only take what will fit. In my pre-Kindle days I would almost tip over with the books stuffed inside, next to my travel journal, favorite writing pen and camera, but nowadays it's much easier (and lighter!). Too bad your e-reader didn't work!! Sort of defeats the whole purpose, doesn't it? Still, you got to check out different bookstores and find new reads.

  2. Keita Haruka12:30 PM

    I usually take the laptop, the smart phone and the e-reader. With the smart phone, I can take quick pictures, dictate observations and quick notes, do fast research on the go and the like. The actual writing still gets done on the laptop because I never could get used to "typing" on a touch screen, and finally, the e-reader for the joy of reading. It's an older non-tablet model with black and white only screen, chosen over the more tabletty models because it can last weeks on a single charge, which the laptop and smartphone can't do. Whoever said a tablet could replace all three those devices was fibbing just a bit.

  3. I take my camera--because I don't have a smart phone--and I used to take several books. Now I take my e-reader. And I take a journal to write and draw in.

    Good to have you back and thanks for including The Whole Cat & Caboodle in your reading pile!

  4. I've just finished Shiloh's Deeper than Need and absolutely loved it. I always enjoy a good Lee Child but won't watch the film because Tom Cruise is NOT Jack Reacher - end of! I've just downloaded Delicious! but I'm very confused about The Whole Cat & Caboodle. I can't quite read who wrote it, but as I'm waiting for A Midwinter's Tale by Sofie Kelly to come out I'm assuming its not her series. The cover looks like it is but I've just checked on her website and it says nothing about The Whole Cat & Caboodle, so I'd love to know if this is someone new I should try out. As for the JK book - no don't think I'll bother. You're usually right on target about books so I'll leave that one alone. Oh I'm not a writer so I thought I'd just comment about the books - you know, the important stuff (big smile).

  5. I take my iPad. And I download before I leave the house... just in case. ;) Hope ya like Deeper than Need... and Fran, thank you. :)

  6. Going on a quick road trip from Montana to Arizona to move my daughter here. So I have 3 sets of audio books for the drive there and back, Silkworm, being one of them. But on your selection above...Delicious is frankly, delicious. The City on my bedside table. The Quick...started, just couldn't get into. Taking to long to get to the point. Can't read Stephen King since The Shining. Get too scared.