Albatrosses and penguins are the last birds I’d want to murder


Bruce Chatwin

Bruce Chatwin

I’ve tried writing fiction before. I wrote a short story at the behest of a friend, but I didn’t really enjoy the process all that much. I like writing well enough, but piling on top of that the pressure of coming up with a good storyline, that seems too much like dooming myself to failure.


I’ve recently been a bit more tempted by travel writing. Now, it’s not that straightforward: I’m not the type to pull a Bruce Chatwin and just hop it somewhere remote, informing my employers of my absence via telegram, chronicling my exploits via branded stationery. I think if anything, I’d be writing about what I know, the Britain that I’m steadily exploring via the means of Google Maps. About the holiday destinations, etc, the charity shop destinations, the Chilterns and the North Downs, the chalklands of the south and the bad lands of Sheppey. 

The problem is, it’s not much of a read, to hear somebody go on about their holiday like that. Whether it’s Jonathan Raban wandering around Montana, or Chatwin in Patagonia, or Norman Mailer in Kinshasa, what makes the books so wonderful is almost not the place – it’s the people. That’s where I’d struggle, I think. I’ve not inherited my dad’s embarassing trait of talking to people in shops (“busy today?”). I think if I ever wanted to write about places, I’d need to learn to talk to people…

Maybe one day. I’ll add it to my list of things to do before I die.


2 Responses

  1. hey simon, found your blog hidden away in a bookmarks folder where it shouldn’t be (now properly tucked in a relevant-ish folder).

    have you sampled Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon? a good read of a man, his van and a meandering wander around the non-interstates of ‘merica.

  2. Cheers Toby, I’ll definitely keep an eye out for that.

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