Thursday, July 12, 2007

Inspiration

In the summer of 2005, Rachel Spencer spent six weeks as an au pair in Paris. She had somehow struck a deal with her native Houston Chronicle to keep a blog about the experience on said newspaper's website. A book publisher saw her blog and suggested she write a book, resulting in a pseudo-poetic look at modern day Paris known to a few readers as Au Paris: True Tales of an American Nanny in Paris. I've read the book, and it's nothing to write home about, but the story is no doubt an inspiration to keep up my own blog. I highly doubt publishers will be banging down my door anytime soon, but hell, you never know.

I need to build up a larger readership of course, which is why I've started leaving my business card just about everywhere, including at the table when I eat at a sit-down restaurant. I just hope the waitresses don't think I'm propositioning them.

Some people have suggested I write a book about my travels this summer, which makes me laugh because as much as I'd like the same good fortune as Miss Spencer, I don't think I'm quite at a level of style and ability to fill two hundred or so pages. That and the cross country trip, as mentioned, has been written to death. I'd need an angle, something even better than couchsurfing my way across. I once read a book called The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific about the author's two years spent on an equatorial atoll. I also read a book called How to Avoid Prison and Other Noble Vacation Goals about the author's attempt to spring her Latin lover from a Columbian jail. These are stories worth telling, worth filling up the bookshelves with. A twenty-something's jaunt through America, by comparison, lacks the oomph that creates good travel writing.

And then I found out about The Frugal Traveler. I've known about him since leaving Kentucky when my sister pointed out that we had both written stories around the same time about the same exact thing: Kentucky bourbon. The difference is I am writing on blogger.com, while he is writing for The New York Freaking Times. I've been reluctant to tell you about him, because lord knows the guy has enough readers already.

Plus his blog is much better. His stories are more in depth, he has videos, the writing is better... And to top it all off, he's also couchsurfing.

It stings a little.

But as I tell my sister, book deals notwithstanding, it's just nice to drive around my homeland and at least practice writing, practice taking pictures of life around me, even if nothing comes of it. And as she tells me, it's a trip of a lifetime, one I won't soon forget. Ah yes, that too.

I've been reading Lolita again, which in some circles is described as a "road trip book." I don't know that I would go that far, but Nabokov does have a talent for description:

"By putting the geography of the United States into motion, I did my best for hours on end to give her some impression of 'going places,' of rolling on to some definite destination, to some unusual delight. I have never seen such smooth amiable roads as those that now radiated before us, across the crazy quilt of forty-eight states."

"There might be a line of spaced trees silhouetted against the horizon, and hot still noons above a wilderness of clover, and Claude Lorrain clouds inscribed remotely into misty azure with only their cumulus part conspicuous against the neutral swoon of the background. Or again, it might be a stern El Greco horizon, pregnant with inky rain, and a passing glimpse of some mummy-necked farmer, and all around alternating strips of quicksilverish water and harsh green corn, the whole arrangement opening like a fan somewhere in Kansas."

And then there's my favorite passage of all, the one that puts Lolita in my top five books of all time:

"And so we rolled East, I more devastated than braced with the satisfaction of my passion, and she glowing with health, her bi-iliac garland still as brief as a lad's, although she had added two inches to her stature and eight pounds to her weight. We had been everywhere. We had seen nothing. And I catch myself thinking today that our long journey had only defiled with a sinuous trail of slime the lovely, trustful, dreamy, enormous country that by then, in retrospect, was no more to us than a collection of dog-eared maps, ruined tour books, old tyres, and her sobs in the night - every night, every night - the moment I feigned sleep."

When I start writing like that, then I might consider writing a book. Until then, I'll just keep reading.

2 comments:

the chef said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
the chef said...

Hey Scott... WAKE UP BRO...

You just wrote the preface to your book.

Seriously.

Introduction, preface, chapter one... whatever. You just wrote it right there in that blog.

You have a great way with words and communicating your experiences to us with them.

I know I'm seriously enjoying it.

I know every other commenter writes this but...

Keep up the good work Scott.


Be good...

www.killykill.com

P.S.... I apologize that some of my comments come off harsh, rude, blunt, pessimistic... (ahem) honest, true, etc... it can't all be roses.
I've been reading, watching and listening to a lot of Henry Rollins.
I blame/thank him for most of it.

Pick up a copy of "Black Coffee Blues".

"124 Worlds" is like nothing I've ever read before. Brilliant.