Prose

Why Should a Writer Travel? (October 2016)

I debated all summer on how exactly to reply to the question “Why should a writer travel?”—travel is important for everyone, not just the writer.  However, books can be lifelines for those who cannot travel. As a child, I was almost always stuck at home, and books were the best way to escape—something they’ve been for so many. The words of writers who had seen different snippets of the world than I had inspired me to create my own worlds at a young age and instilled in me a need to cover the world with my footsteps.

Since coming to a college two hundred miles from the farm, though, I have realized that the answer to “Why should a writer travel?” is so much more than I once thought.  When I was younger, my desire to travel was selfish: I was sick of being the girl who never vacationed on beaches in other states. My only goal in writing, really, was to finish something and become famous. But since then, I’ve laced my shoes and gone out into the world with the intention to conserve the parts of it that only I could see with my eyes—not just the wild, isolated places that crowds avoid and adventurers love, but also the crowds themselves and the places that were created by humans. I’ve listened to people’s stories and opened my pores to capture places. It doesn’t matter the person, place, or story—I carry them all with me. They appear in my writing, preserved and reaching out to people who wouldn’t have met them otherwise. I hope to one day be part of the cycle: my stories inspiring others to take the world in just as I was inspired as a child.

Though I have not traveled as far as some of my peers, I have done my best to explore the towns I’ve called home—Reesville, Ohio; Greenfield, Ohio; Alliance, Ohio—and I’ve intentionally taken projects that would change my view of the world in some way. In my second semester of college alone, my projects included a sort of social experiment involving my peers’ reactions to a variety of outfits, becoming a drag king for a few days, shaving my head, and exploring fear and insecurity through interviews with friends, family, and instructors as well as self-examination. These projects took me to four different cities, led to sixteen interviews, and helped me meet with countless people whom I otherwise wouldn’t have known existed.

This is what I feel is the point of traveling, and why I, as a writer, wish to travel.  However, one of the most beautiful things is that we’re all traveling for different reasons, and we’ll all see different things on our travels. At the end of the journey, though, we can come back home and snuggle in the familiar warmth of our beds, surrounded by pages and pages of reasons to travel and reasons to write that all converge on one bookcase.

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