Writing Away Book Cover

Writing Away
A Creative Guide to Awakening the Journal-Writing Traveler

by Lavinia Spalding

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In this straight-from-the-hip guidebook, veteran travel diva Lavinia Spalding spins the romantic tradition of keeping a travelogue into a modern, witty adventure in creativity and self-awareness. Writing Away introduces the handwritten travel journal as not only the world's most valuable writing exercise, but also a profound tool for reconnecting with oneself in the digital age. Whether you're a first-time wanderer, a seasoned vagabond, or an armchair adventurer, this book will inspire you to see the world-and yourself in it-differently.

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Top 10 Reasons to Keep a Handwritten Journal: #7

Author: Lavinia Spalding    |    February 4th, 2012       Writing Away - The Book

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There are as many reasons to keep a journal as there are destinations on a map. Here are ten, excerpted from Writing Away: A Creative Guide to Awakening the Journal-Writing Traveler.

#7: It’s the world’s best writing exercise
In Fresh Air Fiend, Paul Theroux commented, “When people ask me what they should do to become a writer, I seldom mention books. I assume the person has a love for the written word, and solitude, and a disdain for wealth—so I say, ‘You want to be a writer? First leave home.’”

Travel has the ability to make writers of us all, and keeping a journal is what can turn the potential into reality. Throw yourself in the mix and you’ve got the winning trifecta: Travel supplies endless material and inspiration, the Travelogue provides a canvas and demands commitment and examination, and you, the intrepid and attentive Traveler, are the prime candidate for the position. One of travel’s great benefits is that once we cross a border, we needn’t even seek out creative inspiration—it’s everywhere. We step off the runway and within hours find ourselves surrounded by plants and flowers we don’t recognize and animals we’ve seen only in zoos or on TV. We interact with people who speak only words we can’t understand, observe customs contrary to our own, pay for exotic trinkets with Monopoly money, eat unidentifiable food. For some, this can be unsettling. For the writer, it’s a windfall.

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Top 10 Reasons to Keep a Handwritten Journal: #8

Author: Lavinia Spalding    |    October 27th, 2011       Writing Away - The Book

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There are as many reasons to keep a journal as there are destinations on a map. Here are ten, excerpted from Writing Away: A Creative Guide to Awakening the Journal-Writing Traveler.

#8: “Elsewhere” is a Place Creativity Grows
Pablo Picasso said, “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” That problem, I think, can be solved with travel. Travel renews our youth, giving us dispensation to reclaim the original zest for art so often rooted out of us as adults. Surrounded by the unfamiliar, we regain the eyes of a six year old, and suddenly we’re handed all the conditions necessary to become an artist again: inspiration, free time, a portable canvas (the journal), and a cornucopia of exotic materials at our disposal. Can you think of a better environment for revamping your creativity?
Infusing your notebook with visual components is more than a pleasurable, relaxing activity with a visual payoff; the act of doing so also immediately intensifies your connection to a location, adding another layer of self-awareness and expression. By deciding to include artwork of any kind, you’re signing on to register impressions in a new way—with keen observation. When you return home, accompanying you will be a dynamic hybrid journal that interweaves writing and imagery—a tribute to your experience and destination.

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Top 10 Reasons to Keep a Handwritten Journal: #9

Author: Lavinia Spalding    |    September 12th, 2011       Writing Away - The Book

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There are as many reasons to keep a journal as there are destinations on a map. Here are ten, excerpted from Writing Away: A Creative Guide to Awakening the Journal-Writing Traveler.

#9: A Shared Journal Can Help you Connect
If you’re traveling with a friend or spouse, creating a shared journal can bring you closer and foster a sense of unity. The upshot of this is multifold: first, by sharing the goal of a travelogue, you’re more likely to commit since you’ll be loath to flake on each other. Furthermore, when you’re not feeling the writing vibe, he or she may be—you’ll egg each other on. Knowing you’ll be sharing your words will also up the ante, adding zing to your writing. One more bonus is that you’ll no longer rely strictly on your own mind, so when your memory falters, your friend might provide insight into the circumstances that led to you falling off your camel in Giza or your barstool in Berlin. If you’re in a group, you can create a feeling of community by starting an “open” notebook that members of your group can contribute to at any time. At trip’s end, photocopy it for everyone or create a separate album with pictures, quotes, names, inside jokes, highlights, and lowlights. Even if you and your friends are together 24/7, you bring to the book distinctive perspectives. You’ll appreciate accessing their take on shared experiences, and you’ll learn from these secondhand impressions. Ultimately, your friends’ stories will inform your own.

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Top Ten Reasons to Keep a Handwritten Journal: #10

Author: Lavinia Spalding    |    August 1st, 2011       Writing Away - The Book

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We live in fast, easy travel times. Armed with internet access and a credit card, we can secure transport and lodging across the world within minutes, and while traversing remote back corners of the globe, we have the option to stay virtually connected to everyone we know. But what does remain a challenge in this era of streamlined travel is ensuring that we take the time to fully examine and absorb all that we experience. For my money, there’s no better way to accomplish this than by carrying a handwritten travel journal.

There are as many reasons to keep a journal as there are destinations on a map. Here are ten, excerpted from Writing Away: A Creative Guide to Awakening the Journal-Writing Traveler.

#10: It’s a Wonderful Outlet for Handling Travel Stress

Travel isn’t always easy; sometimes it can completely derail you. On these occasions, the journal can be your lifeline, something solid and steadfast to grab hold of in the midst of upheaval. When feelings of homesickness, powerlessness, frustration, or fear wiggle their nasty little fangs into your erstwhile perfect vacation, you can draw strength and comfort from writing—using your journal as a refuge and a reminder of how resilient you are and how courageous you want to be. If you start losing your temper (or sense of humor), you can call on your journal to help you find it again. That’s what it’s there for. Your journal will help you cope, like a portable therapist. You might even find you can be more honest with your notebook than with your therapist. (Or your blog.)

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Call for Submissions: The Best Women’s Travel Writing 2011

Author: Lavinia Spalding    |    September 1st, 2010       Writing Away - The Book

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Calling all women travel writers!

Is there a story held captive in you that’s begging to be set free? Here’s your chance to liberate it: send it to me! I have the honor this year of editing the Travelers’ Tales anthology, The Best Women’s Travel Writing 2011.

I’ve spent countless hours over the past few years trying to convince people to tell their stories–not to me or to the public, but to their journals. In my book, Writing Away, I persistently deliver the message that in this very public era, it wouldn’t kill you to keep some stories to yourself. But my tune changes a bit with this post, because now I’m encouraging you to go ahead and make those stories public.

Send your best true tale of the road to submit@travelerstales.com. We’re looking for the full range of experience: adventurous, mystical, funny, poignant, cuisine-related, cross-cultural, transformational, funny, illuminating, frightening, or grim—as well as solo travel and travel with friends, partners, and families. Stories should reflect that unique alchemy that occurs when you enter unfamiliar territory and begin to see the world differently as a result. Previously published essays are OK, provided you control all rights to the story. Multiple submissions are also OK.

The deadline is September 21st.

Length & Type of Story
There’s no set length; however, shorter stories have a better chance of being accepted. We recommend the range of 750-2,500 words.

Remuneration:
The payment is $100, a copy of the book, and the right to purchase an unlimited number of any Travelers’ Tales titles for 50% off the cover price (plus shipping and handling).

Submission:
Email your submissions to: submit@travelerstales.com. If sending attachments, they must be in MS Word or RTF format. Please put “The Best Women’s Travel Writing 2011” in the subject line, and please be sure your name and contact info is in the attachment, not just in your email. Submissions will not be returned.

You can also send a hard copy to:

Travelers’ Tales

853 Alma Street

Palo Alto, CA
94301

Please include on your essay all of your contact information, plus a 3- to 10-line bio about yourself. Essays will not be returned; notification of acceptances only, close to publication date. Essays not selected will be considered for future Travelers’ Tales books, unless author explicitly requests otherwise. We collect year round for this annual collection, so if you miss the deadline your story will be considered for the following year.

Rights

We are interested in non-exclusive rights, in all languages, throughout the world. Our use of the material does not restrict the authors’ rights in any way to have their stories reprinted elsewhere.

Caveat

In most cases we will do some editing of accepted stories for considerations of style, grammar, or length and may also alter the story title. Due to the large number of submissions received we will only contact you if we decide to include your submission in this collection. Final decisions are made near the end of the editorial process, and all authors whose stories have been accepted are notified at that time.

In addition to publishing books, we like to promote the best travel writing we can find and do so in our Editors’ Choice section and elsewhere on our Web site. By submitting your story to Travelers’ Tales, you agree that we may post it on our site as an example of good travel writing. You will not be paid for this use, but you will retain all rights to your material, and as a Travelers’ Tales contributor you will be able to purchase any TT books at 50% off. If you do not wish us to post your story, please indicate this clearly at the beginning of your submission. If we select your story for publication, we will contact you regarding permission and payment.

Ladies, set your stories free!

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The Art of Journaling: Weekend Workshop in Zion

Author: Lavinia Spalding    |    February 24th, 2010       Writing Away - The Book

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There are a few spaces still available for the upcoming weekend workshop in beautiful Springdale, Utah, on March 6th and 7th!

The Art of Journaling -email flyer

March 6 & 7, 2010, Saturday & Sunday
“The Art of Journaling”
Literary Workshop
10:00–5:00 pm Saturday & Sunday
Canyon Community Center
126 Lion Blvd.
$130 Z-Arts! members /
$150 non-members

Let this Spring workshop featuring Author, Lavinia Spalding and Artist, Deb Durban be your creative guide to awakening the journal writer in you!

The fee includes materials. Please pre-pay and reserve your space by sending a check to: Z-Arts!, PO Box 115, Springdale, UT 84767. Space is a concern so we do ask you to register early.

There is also a special event free and open to everyone Friday, March 5th.6-8 pm. “The Art of Journaling- a reading and discussion with Lavinia Spalding” hosted by Sundancer Books, 975 Zion Park Blvd.

If you have any other questions, please email zarts@springdaletown.com or call (435)772-0909

If you would like to attend the upcoming “Art of Journaling” workshop offered by Z-Arts! in March but are unable to due to financial restrictions, a unique scholarship is being made available to a worthy participant. To apply for this full-tuition scholarship, please submit a 50 word entry expressing your desire, need, or passion to attend! (Deadline March 5th – EXTENDED)

Please email: zarts@springdaletown.com or mail to:
Z-Arts!, PO Box 115
Springdale, UT 84767

The workshop is being held Saturday and Sunday, March 6th and 7th, 2010 from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM at the Canyon Community Center (CCC).

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Author: Lavinia Spalding    |    January 12th, 2010       Writing Away - The Book

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Writing Away was chosen one of the best travel books of 2009 by The Los Angeles Times. Best Travel Books of 2009

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Briefcase to Backpack

Author: Lavinia Spalding    |    January 7th, 2010       Writing Away - The Book

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Here’s a wonderful website, Briefcase to Backpack, with a nice post about the merits of keeping a handwritten journal. Included are several excerpts from Writing Away, along with some inspirational photos.

http://briefcasetobackpack.com/2009/10/favorite-books-my-travel-journals/

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Journaling Solo vs. with Others

Author: Lavinia Spalding    |    October 28th, 2009       Travel, Writing Away - The Book

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During the Q&A segment of my recent speaking event at the Green Arcade in San Francisco, an audience member asked a great question. It was one also posed at past events, so it seemed an appropriate first Q in what will be an ongoing Q&A series. I invite your questions about journaling & traveling and promise to answer them to the best of my ability.
 
 
Q:
How does journaling/writing differ for you when you’re traveling with a partner or friend versus when you travel solo? Which experience yields better results?
 
A: I find that for me, the two experiences make for vastly different adventures in writing. Generally speaking, I have more success keeping up with my journal when I travel alone. Mostly, this is due to the fact that the journal becomes my companion and confidante. Plus, there’s simply more time for introspection, not to mention an increased awareness that because you’re on your own, in terms of preserving memories, you’re all you’ve got. I learned this the hard way on one of my solo trips.
 
To quote from Writing Away,

When I was thirty-one, I backpacked alone through Vietnam without a journal. I’d recently purchased a pricey camera, so I enthusiastically snapped hundreds of photos, never bothering to write down a word. Not surprisingly, what I retain from that trip are imprecise memories and a shoebox filled with slides of people and places I can no longer name. By consulting a map, I’m able to point to towns I visited, but one street scene in a photo is all but unidentifiable from the next. I can barely discern one Hmong village from another, and I recall literally (yes, literally) one conversation—it took place on the boat to Halong Bai and concerned turkey jerky. The man I was talking to hailed from England where there’s a conspicuous and perplexing absence of jerky. He found the topic endlessly fascinating, and if I remember correctly his eyes rolled back in his head slightly when I mentioned tofu jerky. That’s the single conversation that followed me home from Vietnam. Furthermore, because I traveled solo, I can’t even poach my friends’ memories for missing details.

 
 
The memory-keeping stakes are obviously raised when you’re by yourself; it becomes exponentially important to log memories, particularly all the private ones you’d never dare post to a blog, twitter, or facebook.
 
The very fact that my journal practices benefit from solo travel is one of the reasons I love going it alone. Still, there are tons of advantages to sharing the road with friends and keeping a journal while doing so. To wit: there’s nothing like travel to grow people up and shed light on character, so sharing the road with a loved one is a wonderful chrysalis for increased connection, closeness, change, and growth. Moreover, when we sit down in silence to record and digest our discoveries, epiphanies, and transformations, we gain entry to a deeper understanding of them–we essentially apply a magnifying glass to our experience. In Writing Away, I discuss the rewards of keeping a shared journal as an instrument for connecting more deeply to your travel partner.
 
From Writing Away:

One approach is for you and your companion to powwow every few days and write. The upshot of this is multifold: first, by sharing the responsibility and goal of a travelogue, you’re more likely to commit since you’ll be loath to flake on each other. Furthermore, when you’re not feeling the writing vibe, she may be—you’ll egg each other on. Knowing you’ll be sharing your words will also up the ante, adding some zing to your writing. One more bonus is that you’ll no longer rely strictly on your own mind, so when your memory falters, your friend might provide insight into the circumstances that led to you falling off your camel in Giza or your barstool in Berlin.
 
Even if you and your friends are together twenty-four-seven, you bring to the book distinctive perspectives. You’ll appreciate accessing their take on shared experiences, and you’ll learn from these secondhand impressions. Ultimately, your friends’ stories will inform your own. Just keep in mind that a collaborative travelogue should only augment, never replace a journal that’s intimately, unmistakably your own.

 
Indeed, there are countless reasons why it’s important to keep your own journal as well, when traveling in the company of others. First, it offers you some sanctioned alone time, a necessary ingredient in the traveling-with-others recipe for success. Saying, “I’m off to the cafe to write in my journal for a while. See you in an hour or so” is a gentle way of taking space for yourself. Because even when you’re traveling with others, it’s important to remember that it’s still your trip, too. And you should always keep some stories for yourself.

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Reading/Signing at the Green Arcade Oct. 12th

Author: Lavinia Spalding    |    October 6th, 2009       Writing Away - The Book

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Please join me at the Green Arcade in San Francisco at 7 p.m., on Monday, October 12th. I’ll be discussing, reading from, and signing copies of WRITING AWAY. The Green Arcade is a fabulous independent bookstore at the corner of Market and Gough that specializes in what I would call “San Francisco sensibility” books–think sustainability, organic food & gardening, the environment, politics, art, green architecture, travel, permaculture, social commentary. It’s one of my favorite bookstores in San Francisco, and I hope to see you there!

http://www.thegreenarcade.com

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About the Author

Laura Spalding Lavinia Spalding is author of Writing Away: A Creative Guide to Awakening the Journal-Writing Traveler and With a Measure of Grace, the Story and Recipes of a Small Town Restaurant. She is a regular contributor to Yoga Journal, and her work has appeared in such publications as Sunset Magazine, Post Road, CitySmart, and Inkwell.

Lavinia grew up in the small towns of Kensington, New Hampshire and Flagstaff, Arizona, where she spent her bohemian childhood climbing trees, writing poetry, and playing the classical guitar. She attended the University of Arizona Creative Writing program and upon graduating, immediately took a job teaching English in Busan, South Korea. It was an impulsive decision that changed the course of her life, turning it irreversibly nomadic. She has since traipsed through some thirty countries on five continents, a blank notebook and a clutch of pens her constant companions.

Although her inextinguishable wanderlust prevents her from ever really staying put, Lavinia currently lives in San Francisco and can always be found at www.laviniaspalding.com.

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