Last night was our first event for Stories of World Travel since the book was published with Globe-Pequot Press. Not having been to many of last year’s readings, but having been to several author events for Travelers’ Tales, this was just another obligation on my calendar.
We were invited by the University of San Francisco to speak at the Lone Mountain Campus auditorium. Cathy Miller, one of the Wild Writing Women, teaches in their graduate writing program. Before the presentation we gathered our chairs in a circle and spoke intimately on our writing process to Cathy’s class. They wanted to know everything from what time of the day we did our writing, to what tools we used, and how we sold our works. Alison talked about press trips and what it was like to be hosted by the South African tourist board for her most recent four month research trip, Danielle talked about how washing the dishes gets her in the right frame of mind to write, Carla talked about how much easier it is to get assignments when you’re highly specialized in a field, and Lauren talked about how important deadlines are for her in getting her best writing to come forward.
I hadn’t prepared for the presentation, but spoke off the cuff about how writing personal journeys are easier for me than writing destination pieces. There were six of the WWW present, and we cooly bragged about how all twelve of us have never been in the same room together, because we truly are travelers…two of us abroad right then… with Lynn in Mexico, and Jacqueline in Ireland.
After a little more than an hour with Cathy’s class, we convened on stage where there were tables, chairs and microphones waiting for our reading. It was a large auditorium and there were around 50 people in attendance.
Each of us read 400-600 words from our stories in the book, and then opened the evening up to a panel discussion. They asked us all sorts of questions, but some of the most thought provoking was if our travels had led to any remarkable relationships that really made a difference, if we’d seen our writing make a positive affect on the countries or cultures we were writing about, and how, if at all we were able to let go of our national imperialism while abroad.
I was amazed at the answers that were coming from our group, and what food for thought it was when thinking about my goals as a writer and the whole life I have ahead of me. While at first I didn’t even want to show up for the event, I left realizing that there was so much I could still learn from the group. We spend so much time with busywork—debating publishing schedules, marketing priorities, and group dynamics—that it was truly refreshing to talk about our writing. AND our travels. We went to USF to inspire the MFA students, but I thing I’m safe in saying that we left having inspired each other.
We will be speaking regularly all summer in the Bay Area and up and down the West Coast. Check with our event calendar for details on where you can meet us in person.