I just got back from Turkey (half the time in Istanbul and the other half in a small town called Gomec) and I could have had McDonald's, Domino's Pizza or Burger King while I was there. Istanbul has 'em all. However, I was determined to immerse myself as much as possible.
As a writer, I try to do the same. I try to not wallow in a rut, and with some photos from my trip, hopefully I can make the connection between eating my way across Turkey and my experiences as a writer.
Be willing to dive into the unknown. For dinner one night our friend Emel ordered three different kinds of fish for us to try. All Turkish. Two plates were covered with small fish, and everything but the tail was eaten. Bones. Eyeballs. Mrs. Paul's had nothin' on these fish.
Was I thrilled? No, but I did eat them and I did keep an open mind. They really weren't as bad as I initially thought they'd be.
A bunch of years ago I tried my hand at writing a romance short story for an anthology. The first time I dived into this unfamiliar genre, I got rejected. Too much snark and not enough sweetness. A second attempt was more successful. It got published despite it being not as good (in my opinion) as the first one. I learned some of the components of romance stories. Was I thrilled as I wrote it? No, but I did write and revise and I did submit... and I got published.
Follow advice from those you trust. Last year I went to Turkey for the first time. Before I left, my teaching colleague told me, "If you get the chance, go to Aya Sofya." An old church? I figured if the opportunity came up, I'd go, but I wasn't chomping at the bit to see it. After all, I've seen lots of old churches in France.
Aya Sofya is an incredible place. It was built in 400-something AD and is huge. It's such a jaw-dropping place, I went again on this trip. Thankfully, I listened to my teaching colleage and took their advice.
As a writer, I depend on critique partners to help me during revising. Perhaps I'm too close to it, and in my delusional state, it's the next Pulitzer Prize winner. If my writing friends--gifted writers--think it needs major revising, I have to listen to them.
Savor what you love. I fell in love with this dish on my trip last year to Turkey. It consists of tomatoes, corn, onions, walnuts, some basil/parsley and a pomegranate glaze. When you have something once, and dream about it for a year, you know it's delicious.
Maybe you love epistolary writing, like my friend Lynn. If so, write a book where the story is told through letters. Perhaps you love revising. Revel in the process. If you're one of those writers who loves to sketch, use that love of drawing to plot out your story/create a character.Take what you enjoy doing, and make it work for you.
How about you? How has travel changed you? Or, how has travel impacted your writing?