I just spent three weeks on a children’s literature tour in Scandinavia, combined with some sightseeing. As I travelled—Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Lapland—I wrote in my journal rather than work on my formal poetry or novel. I was just too busy traveling (and enjoying myself), listening to fabulous authors and illustrators, and interacting with the greatest group of teachers, librarians, and authors. Now, I’m sorting through the many photos I took (I love photography) and uploading them to Flickr. The photos, my journal, and some of the small things I saw, however, will end up in my work somewhere. I can count on it.
According to Hans Christian Andersen, “To Travel is To Live.” If that’s the case, I’ve really been living and life is what we bring to our work. We may spend time in our little cages, clicking computer keys like mad (no more “scribbling”), but we can only achieve the results we want through living, processing those experiences, and distilling them into our written words. I have tons of impressions, images, and little incidents to add to my roster of experiences. They are what stay with me, even as I visit the “big” things—castles, museums, libraries. Watching a family interact at the breakfast table next to me, for example, provided me with a tasty idea to build into my work. Seeing the face of a little kid as she “got” the idea her mother was trying to explain to her as we looked at a troll painting by Kittelsen—that, too, will show up somewhere. It’s all grist for my writing mill and I am well-filled after my fabulous journey.
Picture: taken (by me) at the theatre by the Hans Christian Andersen museum, Odense, Denmark on June 29, 2015. It’s the “other mermaid”!