I wrote another book but it's kind of a secret.
Ever wondered what it's like to be a writer on the road? Here's a literal snapshot of it. That's me, curled up under some blankets, writing on the couch bed at a friend's flat in Poland. Gotta grab the writing moments when you can. Stillness is a rare commodity when you're backpacking for months on end. I have some news: I've written a children's book. It will be an illustrated children's storybook and I am really happy about it. I had the idea for it back in November shortly after I got to Ireland. It was inspired by a conversation with my sister. I knocked out the rough draft and first round of edits during my last weekend in Poland. It needs some more editing, but that's not the point. The scary part of this endeavor is that I want to do my own illustrations. It's been a childhood dream of mine. Some of my earliest memories include books. My parents were dedicated when it came to reading to my siblings and I, and in teaching us how to read. I remember countless evenings reading books to each other. I remember specific illustrations and how taken I was with them. I loved the combination of the writer's thoughts being expressed in word as well as in picture. From the time I was very small, I would tell anyone and everyone that, when I grew up, I wanted to be a writer and an artist. The writing part has obviously come a little more naturally, in part because it's a needed aspect of existence. I had to write as part of school. Painting and drawing is so subjective that it was also hard to tell if I was any good at it - and I *need* to know that I am good at my craft. I have had the privilege over the last couple of years to get to know a real live artist. Her name is Liz Lindstrom (find her at lizlindstrom.com and follow her Instagram @artistlizlindstrom), and she is an extremely talented portrait artist. She makes a living drawing and painting portraits. She also makes an excellent friend. I spent many, many hours in her studio when I lived in Chattanooga. I helped her with paperwork and the less-artistic side of art, and also took some art lessons. It's amazing how much can be learned simply by being around something. I watched her canvases go from empty to completed. I learned some of her methods and how she came to be so good at her art. A little spark of hope flickered back to life in my heart. The dream I had not pursued yawned itself awake again and began to pester me. When I moved out of my apartment and into my tiny backpack, I kept my art supplies. I carry watercolors, a paintbrush, and watercolor paper. I have been practicing, finding my style, learning what my watercolor voice is and how to tell a story with a paintbrush. I don't know how long until that children's book will be ready. It could be a long time, or I could finish it in a few months. It doesn't matter. For me, this endeavor is about pushing myself to create a little more, a little deeper, and a little braver.