Jo Carroll, writer and traveler, has written a fascinating guest post today about her experiences doing both. Welcome, Jo!
I didn’t set out to be a writer. When I trotted off on a Gap Year in my mid-50s all I wanted to do was have a great time and record it in a diary. But I did a creative writing course before I went – just to make sure I wrote the best diary I possibly could.
I learned to write in strange places. Whenever I stopped for a meal, or a drink, I’d write. I wrote first thing in the morning, remembering the events of the previous evening. I wrote in bus stations, on trains. I was with a tour group for a couple of weeks in India and wrote about them – much to their chagrin I never showed them.
I noticed things differently, because I knew I would write them down – so the sting of incense in the temples in India, the tiny orange centipede in the jungle of Malaysia (very poisonous), the pristine streets of Singapore – they all had more significance because they would be written down. And I have remembered things I’m sure I’d have forgotten if they hadn’t made their way into the pages of my diary. For instance, I saw is just one piece of graffiti in the whole of Singapore: PUNK IS RESISTANCE – it gave me hope that there was someone else on the island who didn’t quite get the fixation with conformity.
Even buying the diaries became a challenge. I left home with a couple of exercise books; it was easy to buy more in Australia and New Zealand. But in Nepal? The less-affluent corners of India? I spent an entire afternoon traipsing round a small town in Kerala trying to find the single street stall selling school books. Even then I had to buy one with little squares and not lines.
So what made me disentangle the diaries and write a book? Because someone said, ‘Why don’t you write a book about it?’ It was bit more complicated than that, obviously, but that was where it started. Over the Hill and Far Away came out early last year – what’s been particularly gratifying are the private emails from people I’ve never met who have been inspired by my travels. (I know someone for whom a trip to France was an adventure who is about to set off for India!)
And why, now, another one? And just a little book this time? Because I have the travel bug now (that’s just how it is, I’ve given up trying to understand it), and my recent trip to Nepal was particularly exciting. Well, my daughters would say exciting is maybe the wrong word. I hadn’t expected serious tropical weather (I was in a cyclone in the mountains). Nor was I really prepared for the tiger. I’ve come home older and wiser – but with some great stories to tell. They are now in an ebook: Hidden Tiger Raging Mountain.
Now, while you’re reading that, I’ll be working out where to go next. Where do you suggest?
All these pictures were taken on my last trip to Nepal. You can find some more, including plenty from the long trip, on my website: http://jocarroll.co.uk