Going Away to Gain Clarity
The power of place to learn more about who you are.
It was a quick trip. Two days in south Florida, on bright-hot Hollywood beach, for the sole purpose of meeting a writer-friend that I’ve been emailing, calling, and texting for five years but had never met in person. And then, two days in Savannah, Georgia, checking out Savannah College of Art and Design for my youngest son.
A lot of plane rides.
Lynne Golodner’s Rebel Author Newsletter is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
A lot of early mornings.
A total whirlwind.
But … WONDERFUL.
New landscapes, cultures and histories allow me to be different in those moments, too. Away from my everyday routine and familiar surroundings, I gain perspective.
I hear the story of a place and its evolution and growth, its moments of culture and community, and suddenly I see everything - even myself - in a new light.
I walked on the Broadwalk in the early morning with my writer-friend Merle, and we traded stories about our lives, our locales, our relationships, our dreams. I met her husband and enjoyed a home-cooked meal in her beautiful abode.
The last time I was in Hollywood, Florida, it was 1989, days before my senior spring break, visiting a distant cousin with my best friend to soak in some sun before meeting up with friends. I wondered where that cousin is now, so I searched for her on Facebook and sent a message to reconnect.
I learned about the founder of SCAD, who wanted to create a place where young people could build foundations for creative careers more than 40 years ago, and who has since breathed new life into the city of Savannah. She and her parents sold everything they owned, tapped into retirement savings and moved to Savannah to start a school with one building. It now consumes the city of Savannah and turns out some of the best creators in the world.
There, I rode a trolley with my writer-friend Sarah, shopped in an indie bookstore, saw one of the first synagogues in North America and ate seafood in the Georgia lowlands, with alligators lurking in ponds and a raging ocean somewhere not far in the dark night.
Two of my four kids joined me on this trip - Shaya and Grace - and this combination brought different energies, personalities, and insights to my travels. I watched them interact in ways that wouldn’t happen if their other two siblings were with us.
I read two books and started a third. I finished binging a TV show on my iPad. I slept in a four-poster bed in an old Southern house. I walked under live oaks draped in Spanish moss and listened to insects pulse in the night.
Life is full of stories.
There are stories happening every moment of every day. There are stories in our pasts, and stories just now taking shape, and stories we have yet to live. Characters abound! Family and friends and odd people on trains and buses and airplanes, and taxi drivers who really shouldn’t be allowed on the roads, and restaurant servers so full of personality I wish I knew their backstory.
The hard thing about writing isn’t finding a story to tell. It’s working up the nerve to believe your story matters.
It’s believing anyone will want to read it.
There are no new stories - only new ways of telling the typical tropes: finding purpose, finding love, finding fulfillment, repairing a broken heart, wresting free of trauma and sadness and loneliness and starting over.
What keeps any of us from writing is a deep belief that we aren’t good enough, or our are words aren’t important enough to spend time on, or that this “hobby” isn’t as important as money-responsibility-achievement-you-get-the-picture.
Four days and I am more energized than I’ve been in a long time! Even considering that I woke at 2:30 a.m. today to make a plane that was delayed and ending up redirecting my travels home through three cities on three different aircraft, but I got to my destination anyway.
Yes, I’m tired. But it’s worth it.
That’s the thing. Perspective and passion and clarity are so valuable. They’re pretty much all we have.
Post-Travel Writing Prompt:
Write about a place you’ve been that changed your mood, view, or mind. Be very detailed about the landscape. Find the names of plants and streets. Describe the scents and sounds. What about this place changed you? How did you come back different?
Lynne Golodner’s Rebel Author Newsletter is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, please consider becoming a free or paid subscriber - and qualify for book giveaways, quarterly Zooms, discounts on classes & retreats and MORE!