Sunday, 26 February 2012

Planning a trip, and a book?

Actually, I'm only going to talk about planning a trip. There is probably a metaphor in here somewhere for planning a book, but I'll leave that to you to work out. I need to make it clear I'm not talking about a holiday. Holidays have boundaries - in terms of where you will stay, what you hope to do, how you will get there. There is an expectation that you will come home, pick up life-pieces and carry on much as before. They are a glorious, and essential, interruption to the scheme of things.

These days, I go travelling. For me, that includes significant not-knowing. This allows for the unexpected, for changes of mind, for following that little road into the mountains just to see where it goes.

But not - I hasten to add, as my daughters read this - recklessness.

I begin, almost always, with the flights. I'm trying to think of a time when I booked flights and it was glorious weather here - and can't recall any. Prolonged rubbish weather tends to send me to the cheap-flight sites. Which is one reason why I'm off to Nepal in mid-March.

Well, why not?

It's beautiful, I have people I need to visit (for those who have read the book - Tika has a new baby! He told me he would not have another child until he could afford to pay for his education. So he must be doing well), and I want to do meander in the Annapurnas again while I still have knees. (Yes, my knees know how old I am.)

But my planning - well, I have flights. I know when I leave, and when I come home. I have a hotel for my first night in Kathmandu, and a flight the next day to Pokhara. I have somewhere to stay there.

And then what? There's a possibility that Tika can take me into Bhutan - off the beaten track in Bhutan. I can't organise that till I get there, as he has to pull strings to get me a visa. I'd love to go to Burma, but that might have to wait for another trip. And there are great swathes of south-western Nepal that I've never visited - transport is particularly 'interesting' there, but I'd like to see it. (Note to self, it's malarial down there.) I could always go back to Chitwan, and get in the water with the elephants. Tika has even suggested I go white water rafting. (Note to daughters, will check if I can be strapped in.)

So, it's back to my Lonely Planet - an up-to-date copy, as things change all the time. Check visa arrangements; make sure I still know how to say 'thank you' in Nepali. Drool over photographs of temples and markets, and suddenly wish I could go for six months.

Is this anything like writing a book? Looks a bit random, written like this. But I realise I approach a book with the same haphazard enthusiasm. I knuckle down and organise it eventually. And you - can you see parallels in the way you approach other important aspects of your life and how you settle to write?


  1. Ooh Jo, you're a woman after my heart! I'm not a planner...I find randomness bring its own rewards.

    I sometimes wish that I could be more organised, but because of that, I've had some wonderful trips,had different experiences and met some lovely people.

    And writing my book (which when I get back from my trip, I will submit to publishers) was written with the same haphazard enthusiasm you describe!

    Have a great trip! I'm off to Oxz on March 4th adn I don't weven know where I'm staying yet! See what I mean!

  2. Oh how wonderful this sounds (and could it be the start of a sequel?) :-)

  3. I like it when I have a balance between randomness and planning – too much of the former makes me feel unsettled, but too much of the latter and I get bored, both with writing and real life.

    Hope you have a wonderful trip, Jo!

  4. Thinking of the days - an apt monica, for someone who takes off, as I do. Enjoy Oz.

    Sarah and Emma - good to have your support for my randomness. As for a sequel - we shall have to see. There will certainly be pictures on the website.