Writing comes fairly naturally to someone who grew up buried in books, magazines and newspapers – anything I could get my eyes on. Some of the readings were classics – Steinbeck, Austen, Dickens, Cervantes – while others hardly rated on that scale – Seventeen Magazine and The Timmins Daily Press.
I grew up in small, isolated towns in Northern Canada where the best escape from six months of winter was found in the pages of novels. Books provided me with proof that there was life ‘out there’ and that I was more suited for it than I had come to believe. The limited opportunities and world views of my town had boxed me in but the writings of others released me.
My first writings were suicide-inducing, teen-angst poetry which, for some inexplicable reason, I kept for over 35 years and only recently typed into my computer. I also began writing short stories as an outlet for dealing with the ups and downs of life and discovered that I could make people laugh and cry. And so, at 15, I decided I was going to be a writer.
There is nothing better than to be paid for doing something you love and so writing went from a part-time pursuit to a career when I became a news reporter. When I couldn’t get steady work, I would write freelance. I finally left the low-pay-no-benefits-lousy-hours world of news and joined the well-paying-great-benefits-super-hours of the corporate world. Jobs included employee communications specialist, public policy analyst and economic development director: an almost-unnoticeable transition from full-time writing to very little occurred over a couple of decades.
Thirty years of working for others led to burnout. It was now time to work for myself: my husband and I quit our well-paying jobs, sold our house and 99 percent of our worldly possessions. On April 1, 2006 – April Fool’s Day – we began a 26 month around-the-world trip. I also returned to my first love: writing.
We traveled to forty countries on six continents – including Antarctica, learned the polite words of some two dozen languages, ate foods we didn’t know existed, used practically every mode of transportation still in use and learned a lot about ourselves and the world around us. With this much experience to write about I had no excuse not to start putting some of this down on paper (okay, on computer screen).
I started off slowly by creating a blog (www.travelpost.com/travel/dj-rtw) that served many purposes: kept people informed about our whereabouts, provided me with a regular outlet for memories and photos, and – most importantly – disciplined me into writing every week.
After the trip, we settled in Mexico in the summer of 2008 where I began writing more regularly. I’m writing essays, short stories and a book about our world trip. This, while getting down to learning the craft of writing and improving my art.