When I first changed my Facebook status to “traveling writer,” I didn’t fully understand what that would mean.
For more than a decade I had lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on the shores of Lake Michigan. The Lake was part and parcel of me. It was there when I first said “yes” to my calling as a writer during graduate school. It was there as I powered through my first draft of my first novel, and every novel after. It was there when I hand-drew a steampunk comic book over the course of eight months. It was there when I wrote numerous screenplays and copywriting assignments for professional contracts. It was also there every fall I made steampunk costumes for our annual convention, and there when I prepared to attend my first Realm Makers.
And then one day, God said, “It’s time to go.”
I kissed my beloved Lake goodbye, let go a life I had once held in tight embrace, and shed most of what I owned. What was left, I packed into my little orange Fiat for the long journey south.
I didn’t really understand where God was sending me, but I had friends in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the weather was warmer there too, so off I went. Charlotte soon took me to Rome, Italy, and then to a castle up in Tuscany. Italy pointed me to the deserts of Arizona, and from the desert, back to Charlotte. From here I will travel to Milwaukee for Thanksgiving, Minneapolis after the holiday and then Iceland and Germany for the month of December and part of January. Things are a bit sketchy after that, but Australia is booked in March, and so is Italy again in May.
In other words: when God said “Go,” apparently, He didn’t mean to “stop” any time soon.
At first the sheer amount of uncertainty unnerved me. But now I don’t worry at all about the gaps in between my travel plans. A friend in Rome told me about professional house-and-pet-sitting through Trusted Housesitters—so that’s what I do to earn my room and board while I travel and write.
The pets, no matter what their nationality or language, seem to love cuddling up next to me while I tap on my keyboard.
It’s a good thing for me that writing is such a portable craft. You can take it with you pretty much anywhere in the world. Writing keeps you company in airports while you’re waiting for your next flight. You can do it in bus stations, in the back of an Uber, in a hotel room, or in the spare bedroom of someone’s home. You can even do it as easily in a crowded European cafe as beside a palm-lined pool in the tropics.
Writing is the way I stay connected and anchored to my online community, who are, in many ways, the only sense of “place” I have right now.
Sometimes that feels strange to say. Almost . . . precarious.
Words are the only sense of place I know.
When I started this journey, God made it very clear that along the way, I was going to learn how to be at home only with myself and with Him. Writing has become a particularly precious part of this learning experience. As I write, I create places that I can always be a part of: worlds, characters, epic dramas unfolding on maps that expand as I invent them.
Sometimes it’s less dramatic, though. Writing on the road can be just as much about creating “place” through posts like this one, where I give my online community a taste of the transient life.
I think for many years I wrote because I felt that I did not belong anywhere at all. Novel writing, for me, became a way of filling that hole in my heart. A way to create my own connections and feel like I belonged somewhere. Mostly because I thought belonging was some tangible “club” that I had missed out on the password for.
If travel has taught me anything, it’s that belonging does not work that way at all. There is no club to join and no password. Belonging will always be invisible, even if it sometimes chooses to take a tangible form, like the shores of Lake Michigan. It will always be as intangible as the words I splash on the page, ponder, delete, and rewrite with abandon.
Living on the road as a writer is a daily act of surrender to this unknown.
It’s safe here. It’s warm and full of knowing.
And it makes a really great story.
Lisa Maria is a writer, mystic, and coach helping women identify their true gifts, unleash their authentic voices and step into their sacred calling with ease and joy. She has written several novels, screenplays, and a steampunk comic book. Currently she is working on That Fiery Dance, a memoir. Learn more about her work at thatfierydance.com.