m wood pen

freelance illustrator: have pen, will travel

i seriously just came up with a brilliant idea…and of course, i have to laugh at how obvious this is, where most of my people may have already seen it coming.

i want to be a travel writer when i grow up.

now, several factors come in to play here.

first of all, i have to grow up first.  last time i checked my watch, all signs pointed to my being just about ‘cooked’…but really, i’m so used to me at this point, i honestly don’t know if it’s happened yet.

i can’t imagine yet another hurdle that i have to clamber over…i’m so full of self-actualization, i could be sold in a self-help book shop!  seriously: i have found that my best life teacher has been just silly old me wandering down the path that says: “warning!  proceed with caution!” pollyanna in spirit, naive to my bones, trusting always, i have navigated through so many swamps, craggy-precipices, hazardous waste sites, human emotional nuclear disasters…and i’ve come through them all better for the experience…maybe even a bit wiser.  i wonder, does all of that learning make me a grown up now?

i know that when i catch a look at myself in the mirror, i get it: i’m fifty-one years old.  so what, who cares?  the inside of me is a combination of a mirthful, mischievous five-year old, a wide-eyed dream weaver of my sixteen year old self, a fanciful city girl bounding with the energy of a twenty-five year old, a powerhouse of everybody get out of my way at thirty-six, an unconventional girl living a seemingly conventional life, but just don’t look too closely.  at this age?  raring to go, as energized as ever, ready and able.

in all of these zany adventures, i’m still just me, so that’s where i get a bit mixed up.  what is it that really makes you a grown up after all?

as my kids can confirm, i admit all that time that i’m making this stuff up as i go along.  parenting, building a house, giving advise to friends (oh dear, don’t take my word for it!), running a business, planning a design world domination, designing shoes (yes, shoes!)…really, i’m not quite sure how you’re supposed to do any of this but i just follow my instincts, listen to the universe (a frequent visitor), and plow right in, feet first.

so, this next adventure.  it makes such perfect sense, i can’t believe i didn’t think of it sooner.

i’m watching these kids grow up.  super cool, they turned out better than i had hoped!  that’s not a statement about them, they’ve always been wonderful creatures.  but the situation of their childhood has been fraught with the kind of twists and turns you wouldn’t wish on anyone.  the good news is that they’ve come through it all with a solid sense of self, incredible sense of humor, and enough smarts and common sense and personality and independence to just get out there and take their worlds by storm.  all good stuff.

they’re all crazily talented.  and with this, comes sort of a mixed blessing burden.  how do you just pick one thing to do? how do you go to college, pick a major, set your compass towards just one life, one skill, one passion?  how on earth can a person do that?

i have no idea what to tell them.  well, that’s not entirely true.  i tell them stuff all the time.  half of which bounces off of their headphones, another fraction may tickle their ear drum but not really get very far, and a teensy tiny bit might actually get into their brains.  mull it over, see what that feels like. my advice?  don’t pick yet.  see what feels right.  try a bunch of things, sample the flavors, munch at that buffet of life and find the meal that really suits you.

sure, you may fill your plate with something that turns out to be the wrong choice.  but so what?  go back in there, fight for your place in line, get a fresh plate and scoop another heap of something into your soul and go out there and give it a try.

with this sort of analogy flying at the poor kids all of the time, it’s no wonder they don’t really soak it all in, i mean: what an annoying mother!  whatever!!!

i lecture from my own podium.  i only know what i know.  so, kids, please do take it with a grain of salt.  but just be open, really, really open to what comes your way, lands at your feet, or go trek out into new lands and new vistas and find your life, just for you, nobody else.

okay, so here i am.  i draw, we’ve established that.  i love other cultures, just ask noel and corey who had to wrap wontons the other night for our asian dinner feast.  i’m blasting bollywood tunes, french pop (so zany it’s hysterical), italian accordian-infused love songs.  a movie with subtitles is always my preferred entertainment.  i love packing a suitcase.  i love, love, love looking at maps.  i love people, give me a stranger and i’ll get their story and see their world and know their lives.

i made up this blog for one reason.  i read this book about the wonders of social media and it’s (obvious) ability to reach an audience.  not that i had to read a book to understand this, but my friend who i met on Ebay after i complimented his listing (it was like reading a little story, so great!), who has become both my pen pal and my client (!), recommended it.  so, i got a hold of it, skimmed through the parts that i already knew, and hit on the heart of the matter.

if you build it, they will come.

that’s not even what it said, but that’s the big message.  make a daily presence, give the people a reason to pop back, keep them intrigued, feed your audience.  this sounds kind of cold, i don’t mean to sound that way: i’m actually totally stalling, with a humongous very cool project sitting on my drafting table waving at me saying, “yoo hoo, you’re supposed to be over here drawing your wrist off!”…so i am being quick with this post today.

okay, so my kids can laugh: when i’m constantly uploading photos to my Facebook wall, they’ll groan and feign disgust, and can even repeat what i’ve said countless times, “but my people want to see what we’re up to!”  sure enough, they do…and why not?  it’s just me, sharing the fun of being alive.

this blog was a way for me to look professionally cool.  i mean, here i am, single mom, freelance illustrator, three kids who need shoes, food, college degrees…a fat dog, an insatiably hungry cat…you know the drill.  i have to earn a living.  and to do that, in between laundry, the dishes, cooking, generally having a blast with my kids, i have to lure new clients into my web.  a better way of saying that is that i keep casting my net out, hoping to catch some new fish.  love that analogy.

as it turns out, i really do like to write.  and apparently, my people really like to read.

so here it is.  here is my new idea!  and i may need your help: i’m not exactly how to go about doing this.  okay, so back to my list: i love to write, i love to observe, feel, think, then throw it all down on a piece of paper (heretofore this laptop keyboard will be referred to as ‘paper’), i love to pack, i love to look at maps, i love to travel.  i’m a chameleon: i get along with everyone!

i want to be a travel writer.

there.  i said it.  again. i want it.  so, now, all i have to figure out is how to do it, right?  how about this: a publishing deal where nice people from new york or san francisco pay me money to go all over the place, and in return, i’ll create beautiful books filled with musings and illustrations.  bon mots, bon pictures, bon jour, bon life!

now, i really have to get back to work.  meanwhile, corey is in the kitchen whipping up a batch of potato leek soup, omg it smells delicious…the other two are m.i.a. but will be back to the casa before long, so i have to leave for the moment and get back to my life.  plus, the tony’s are on tonight: can’t be missed, although i’ll be drawing throughout the entire show.

i realized yesterday that i want to taste every single moment of life.

how better than to try on my new grown up career…adventure awaits, exotic spices to be tasted!

One thought on “travel writing

  1. Deepa says:

    Love it! That’s a great idea! How about retracing “Around the world in 80 days” in your own unique style???!!! It’ll take you to all the places that you’re dying to go to…China, India…I can help you out with contacts in the Africa bit!

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