Traveling Writer Ryan Christopher Hicks on a Beach in Brazil

Three Promising Discoveries from a Traveling Writer

You are a writer.

You are traveling.

You are a traveling writer.

You are a foreigner, voluntarily displacing your brain and body into the jungle, where the native tongue is music from an unknown genre.

You come back; the traveling writer is now a traveled writer.

Tap three times on a pane of glass to get the attention of the ticket taker on the other side; what three things have we learned?

Tap three times, tap three times, tap three times on your cheekbone, underneath your right eye, and each tap will bring something to the surface, uncovering seeds of wisdom.

About writing, having been there and back, to paradise, these six months. One thing to hold on to for every two months of footsteps on the beach – cool in the morning, hot on warm afternoons with no umbrellas in the way.

What three things? Tap, tap, tap.

I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know.

Discovery #1: I could not write about the traveling writer experience until the experience was complete.

Not until the end do I understand the beginning. It wasn’t wasted time, but rather, like taking a stick and writing in water, trying to know my own story while it was in progress. It wasn’t wasted time, but the expectation was impossible, that I’d know anything until the ocean tide had gone up and come back down. Still bubbling at the top, white on electric blue, capturing meaning from a wave in progress was an exercise in anti-gravity. It wasn’t wasted time, but all those words were still swallowed unspoken, and so any omens inside those weeks, brushed away like sand in the wind over a carved stone dragon. I don’t know.

Discovery #2: I can change my mind by talking to myself.

Change the memories. Carve new pathways in reality. Non-fiction, surely, but how do I feel about it? It depends on the day, the time, which direction I’m facing on the hilltop, and how hard it was to get there. Climbing over rocks and tree roots, only the sound of my breathing and the night animals chirping under the cloud cover, because the rain is coming. It changes the story, being out, away from anywhere to write the words themselves, unless you have pen and ink that marks on stone or the stems and stalks of weeds and flowers. I don’t know.

Discovery #3: It’s only me.

I can’t depend on you. Not to read, or not to listen. This writing is important, only to me. I can’t depend on you. Even in front of me, you’re busy, too busy, to let the words land, even the ones about you. Whatever theme I have chosen, I drag that weight to the finish line; I can’t depend on you, my friend, no matter how much I create your character to be responsible for my heart, until finally I have to erase my imagined version of your interest in the story where you are the central personality, and I, as the writer, am an assistant in my own production. It’s never going to work that way, you know, crafting a book for someone with no time to read.

This is the lesson, that you can’t wait, I can’t wait, for you to read the words and tell me that they’re wrong. I can’t wait, because I can’t depend on you, but I’m doing both, and my writing is stuck with an audience of one, the writer, myself, tapping on my cheekbone, uncertain.

To set these words free in the end – how dangerous, because once escaped, they have their own shadows and will never be boxed inside, between the beginning and end of a chapter, having been given to the imaginations of new sets of eyes, once published. I don’t know. And I don’t have to.

About Ryan

Audiobook maestro Ryan Hicks embraced the ultimate minimalist challenge: he quit his job, sold his house, and stuffed his life into one backpack. Destination? Brazil.

Lured by the promise of cost-effective escapades and a friend’s vow to be his personal tour guide, he set off on a six-month adventure.

Amidst all the carnival vibes, he still made time for his weekly Words Count writing sessions at Prolific Writers Life. Now that’s commitment!

Click here to join Ryan and other Prolific Writers Life members at Words Count writing sessions.

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