The Lies A Writer
(Almost) Wrote In Europe
Center image by Gretchen Gesell.
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Seemingly Ill-Timed Writer’s Block Set Upon Our Essayist During A European Romp; But This Occurrence Is Very Possibly Good News. We Shall All Wait Patiently That We Might, In Due Time, See Its Redemption
By Wayne Schutsky
Modern Times Magazine
Jan. 15, 2014 — When I began planning this European trip with my family over a year ago, images of a writer abroad danced in my head. The frost-covered sidewalks and snowy streets of the Old World would inspire me to write at great lengths about my adventures, I thought.
And adventures I had. Travelling through Germany, Switzerland, France, Spain and the Czech Republic for a week and a half over Christmas and New Years could be nothing short of an adventure. Some of my closest friends and family and I hopped trains, wandered beautiful cities rich with history and crammed as much experience as we could into 18 days.
I visited the Louvre. Walked to the top of Eiffel Tower on Christmas. Walked an ancient town wall in Germany. Spent New Year’s Eve in Barcelona. Drank absinthe in Prague. And so much more.
I had more experiences than I know what to do with; yet, I did not write.
The whole adventure thing had an unintended side effect: it exhausted me. We were moving from morning until night, attempting to see as much of these places as possible during our relatively short timeframe and spending hours at a time travelling from place to place, mostly by train. At the end of the night, I would get back to our room and tumble onto the bed, drained. A glass of scotch or pint of the local brew (even absinthe on occasion) did little to rile my creative juices.
I thought I would write non-stop on this trip: a travel diary, fiction tales, and anything else that came to mind. But I wrote very little: This essay and a few short scribblings that may turn into a short story. I thought I could write a book; I even had a title: The Lies I Told Myself In Europe.
But I didn’t. That is the trouble with writing and traveling and life. Sometimes you are tired and sometimes you are uninspired and sometimes you are both. This is not meant to detract from the beauty of the places that I travelled to, either. Quite the opposite. I literally viewed the most beautiful landscape I had ever seen near the top of Mount Pilatus in Lucerne. But I couldn’t write about it…yet.
Sometimes inspiration is instantaneous and fierce. It hits you like a quick shot and burns inside, begging to get out. And other times it is a slow building fit. You have a special experience, but know it is not ready to breathe yet. Whether it is time or age or some other missing piece, it is just not ripe for the picking. I will let the beauty and charge of the places I went sink in, hoping it will show up in one of my more coherent ramblings later on.
Writer’s block does not always mean you are uninspired; sometimes it simply means you are absorbing too much stimuli at once to take advantage. You need time to rest and synthesize in order to make good on the potential of a trip.
Now that I am back in real life (and my trip seems nothing if not imaginary compared to the hum drum of the everyday that I am now in), the magic of my journey is beginning to sink. Hopefully, someday soon, the truths of my trip will help me write The Lies I Told Myself In Europe.
Wayne Schutsky is a senior contributor to Modern Times Magazine.
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