At my house right now, there are three To-Do lists in operation. That's because I'm about to fly off overseas for nearly four weeks, and the preparation is a nightmare (but only, I might add, because I am obsessive and have organised the whole trip myself, instead of leaving it in the hands of a travel agent - such are the self-induced nightmares of the person who wants to do their own thing). So today I have been cancelling newspapers (husband says he won't bother reading them), paying bills (husband won't notice they are overdue) and buying extra cat food (husband may send cats out to earn their own living, like the chooks).
But I know that once I actually climb onto the aeroplane, after having several hissy fits over things I think I have forgotten to organise, I will relax and all will be in the past. There is something about being out of tangible reach (urgent emails don't really count) that suddenly releases you from the real world. Once you have left, the most urgent thing is what movie to watch, or what book to read. Such a life of luxury, where the luxury is free time!
But I am travelling as a writer - not a travel writer, researching hotels and restaurants and finding bargains for others. I am a writer on the journey of discovery, of finding new places and seeing with new eyes, and writing about what stirs me, what makes me feel different. Some months ago, I read Eric Maisel's A Writer's Paris, and it was wonderful. Today I picked it up, flicked through some pages and thought, No, I can't bear to read one more thing about Paris. Now I want to be there for myself.
I have plans for very definite things I want to write, and also specific places and times I want to research for a book I am working on. But mostly I want to soak up the experience of a different world, and reflect it through both words and photographs. A book may come out of it, or two. But it is the immersion and dreaming that counts in a writer's life - the time when the urge to write takes over from everything else - deadlines, expectations, publishability. It's about flights of language and imagery, capturing the elusive, and carrying pen and notebook everywhere so as not to let that moment of fire escape without it first singeing the page.
Stay tuned. Who knows what will appear here in the coming weeks!