Have Story, Will Travel

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trainI have been living in the same small shared apartment for almost four years now, but not for much longer. After paying my rent this month I gave my landlord 60 days notice in the form of a phone call and a handwritten note saying that I’ll be leaving the building, and the city, once and for all no later than September 1.

The plan is to move to Montreal for a while, get to know a different culture and learn how to speak French, then move on to the next city, possibly Halifax to spend a year there, and then on to Vancouver to spend a year there. I’ve lived in Toronto and the GTA my whole life, and I’m not getting any younger. I need to do this before I get too old and start settling down. After all, there is still so much of this fair country I have not yet seen.

I can do this because I’m a writer. Almost all the work I do is telecommuting. I don’t need to stay in Toronto because I can write for my clients no matter where I am. I will have to give up doing local Toronto journalism, however, but thanks to the magic of the internet I can take my work on the road and live out of a suitcase as long as I have a laptop with a wifi connection. I don’t even have to worry about finding a job wherever I go because I am the job. My work is ongoing and travels along in my luggage.

This might be a hard thing for the regular 9-5 masses to understand. But this is an odd life. It’s an unusual job that isn’t for everyone, but for me it’s the best. Sometimes when the workload slows down I might get frustrated and start thinking about finding a regular job again, but then I come back to my writing and realize, time and time again, this is the only job I’ll ever be able to do long term. Writing is it for me.

And I’ve come to a realization about the relationship between traveling and writing:

“No writer can be good unless he does it every day, and no writer can be great unless he travels the world and experiences other cultures.”

It’s crucial to my growth as a writer, and as a human being, to take this step of living in other cities. It’s a scary proposition to ditch all my furniture and just cut it down to the bare essentials (my books, DVDs, and artwork will have to be stored somewhere), but this is a life changing mission that will excite, inspire, and amaze. Who knows what opportunities I may find in Montreal and beyond?

I can hardly think of one great writer who didn’t go abroad and live in other cultures. A writer has to do this to give him (or her) the inspiration, experience, and material to craft colourful, passionate stories. There is much more in the world than the small geographic segments we are born and grow up in. Artists are explorers so it’s our job to explore what’s out there, to interpret and incorporate it into our beings.

Like Jack Kerouac’s On The Road I’ll bounce from location to location across this great land meeting people, learning the customs, speaking in tongues, and coming up with great stories.

Young, single, and freelancing. Aye, that’s the life for me!

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