I would like to address this illness plaguing our community. With increasing severity it is claiming more of us. It is time to speak up and ask “Do I really need to bring seven books on a weekend trip?” It is time to prioritize; you need that new toothbrush more than another three dozen half-filled notebooks. It is time to say “I see you trying to shove that copy of the Odyssey into your handbag…it won’t fit.” Trust me, I’ve been there.
But how do we keep reading and writing while traveling? Everyone has their own approach. For example, some people only bring the clothes on their back to save space for journals. Others tape hardbacks to their torso. “Is that another book” the people at customs will ask, already silently judging the poetry collection you’ve forced into your carry on.
"No, It’s my rock solid abs,” you’ll lie, thankful that the metal detector cant pick up paper. But what else are we supposed to do? Surely we cannot not sacrifice our literati ways for comfort. Not even to appear sane.
My advice starts off simple. Like in AA meetings or grief counseling, you first have to admit you have a problem. Then it’s all about trying out different things and identifying what your difficulties might be. Are you indecisive? Download seventy books on your phone. Do you want to give off that intellectual don't talk to me vibe? Consider miniature copies of “100 Years of Solitude” the size of your palm. For the more daring, if you're not afraid of manhandling literature, consider ripping out pages that you've already read to save space.
What I do is to take one book that I know nothing about. If I can’t start it, then that means I wasn't supposed to read on this trip. Taking an old favorite or a half finished book will only make me feel guilty. The trickier part is deciding whether or not to take a journal. I prefer to write when I get back home. But then all the details are so hard to remember. I choose to take my chances. I have a friend though who always carries around with him a pocket notebook. He goes through four a week, but he’s always scribbling down ideas so he never forgets a line of poetry or new project to research. As soon as something catches his attention he just takes it out, jots down a few things and carries on.
What it comes down to is honing the way you take art into your everyday life. Some people know how to take breathers. How to live outside of the paper for a while and then right back in. They know that memories and experiences need time before they’re ready to be shared. If you’re one of those, don’t feel guilty. Your art doesn't need to consume you at all times. You can return to it. Then there are those who create like they breathe. To them, it is a constant and ever present force. They scribble on napkins and pick up books like kittens. For them, it’s impossible to stop. And despite these suggestions they’ll still probably be facing the world with arms full of pages and pens tucked behind their ears. To those people, I say good luck.