Wanderlove, by Kirsten Hubbard

 

When I was in high school, I wanted nothing more than to travel around the world and write for a living. I didn’t necessarily want to write novels or stories, per se, but a little literary non fiction would be cool. (I really enjoyed Joan Didion’s work back in the day. Still do.)

Of course, this was still when I didn’t *quite* understand the value of money. I mean, I knew travel involved money, but my plan was basically to magically appear on distant shores with nothing but my backpack, which was filled with moleskine notebooks and pens. You know, the priorities. And, of course, a towel*.

Anyway, I always envisioned myself with well worn travel clothes, even wearing a. lot. of linen in my teenaged years, because, you know, linen wears really well and is made to look wrinkly. (No ironing, score!)

Well, fast forward *blank* years, and clearly I’m not a travel writer. I don’t have a book of short stories based loosely on my travels entitled Wanderlust. I don’t have a blog that chronicles my every move, sustaining a living from the kindness of strangers whom I meet in exotic locations. (The name of that imagined blog being, you guessed it,” Wanderlust.”) As you see on my bio, I’m currently very landlocked as a retail store manager in the middle of America. Far from glamorous or exciting. But my wanderlust simmers still, relegated to the back burner of my life, briefly satisfied with a road trip or vacation here and there. Adequate for now, but nowhere close to what I truly want to experience.

Enter Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard. (I said HERE that you needed to mark your calendars for this book’s release, but as a public service, here I am to remind you all!)

It all begins with a stupid question:

Are you a Global Vagabond?

No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path.

Bria’s a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan’s a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they’ve got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan’s found, is to keep moving forward.

But Bria comes to realize she can’t run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back.

This book…this book captured the very essence of that need. That unnameable thing that I’ve wanted to find, if it could ever be found. The spirit of charting your path and following the road less traveled. Basically, when I read it, it was like I was reading about my life.

And this passage from Bria’s point of view was so. dead. accurate. of what I envisioned for myself when I was her age, it’s uncanny:

I could picture it already.

I would glide from ruin to ruin along La Ruta Maya, in a caravan of beautiful, happy people, and I’d be the mysterious one, gracious and profound. Butterflies would float down from the jungle canopy and alight on my bronzed skin. I would wear silver necklaces and ankle-length skirts that shifted in the breeze.

Sigh. Kirsten Hubbard captures the young adult voice really really well.

I remembered an important lesson that I kind of forgot along the way. I was too focused on what I wasn’t doing or what I could be doing better and how those things proved that I wasn’t good enough to be a fill-in-the-blank. I had to remember that I AM ENOUGH. No rules, no comparisons. Just me.That against all odds, I need to finish my work, and remember my love for writing. It wasn’t about being good enough or what other people will think of my work. I just needed to remember that I loved the feeling, the satisfaction that I get from writing. That feeling of creating stories just for me…is just as fulfilling and unnameable and a truth-self-evident as the wanderlust inside me. That thought was and is enough.

And I clung to that thought, and it inspired me to revisit WIP2 again. I’m grateful, because now I’m so close to finishing my draft, woohoo!

I read this book as an e-galley, and I SO wished I had the physical version of this book. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still grateful that I got to read it when I did (especially since I’m thisclose to The End of WIP2), but since Bria is an art student, we get to see a lot of fun illustrations (drawn by the author herself!) sprinkled throughout the book that I really wanted to see on paper. Speaking of which…

THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED.

Congratulations, Laura! You shall be experiencing the Wanderlove pretty soon!

Anyway, I hope you get the chance to read this book, and I hope you become inspired to follow your passion, no matter how hard the journey, and no matter where your journey will take you.

*”Traveling with a towel” is a reference to Douglas Adams’s cult favorite, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. 😀

EDIT: Wanderlove will be available for purchase, Tuesday, March 13! Feel free to pre-order through your usual bookish channels! ^_^

Being A Published Author Wasn’t Always My Dream Job

I Have a Confession

I haven’t always dreamed of being a published author.  Nor have I spent my childhood/teens/college years diligently writing stories with the hopes that others would read my work.  In fact, I spent most of my life keeping anything I wrote private.

I know I’m not alone in my experience.  But, what bothers me is that I was embarrassed about it.  Yes, I was actually embarrassed that I haven’t always wanted to be an author.  So much so, that at one point, I desperately scoured my memory banks to find a scrap of evidence that yes, indeed, I wanted to be an author.  I wanted to stand with those authors who always knew that they wanted to write, and couldn’t imagine being anything else.  The authors who claim that writing for them was like breathing.  I wanted to be able to say that, and if I’m honest with myself, I still want to be able to say that.  To claim that.  Of course, if I do, it would be a lie.

What bugged me more than being embarrassed by something so silly, is realizing why I was so embarrassed.  I’d built up authors beyond being merely role models, that their life stories and beliefs became truth to me.  Became The Way.  And, if I diverged from The Way, then, by my actions, I have excommunicated myself from the society of authors, and I didn’t have the right to pursue being a full-time novelist.

A Side Story

Last week, I was able to spend time with my side of the family.  Because, my immediate family is split between east and west coasts, I only see them for one week, twice a year, and we spend those weeks that we’re together sharing stories about our lives thus far, updating each other on any news.  (This is nothing new.  Growing up, we all often shared stories while eating breakfast on Saturday mornings.)  We’re a talkative bunch, and can be quite dramatic in our renditions, so it takes a good week for us to regale the other branches of the family on our happenings.

Anyway, whenever we’re together, it doesn’t matter that we’ve already heard about each other’s stories through some other means. (For example, my older brother might have called my sister who could have Facebooked me about something my younger brother allegedly did in college that my parents may not know about.  Or, an elderly aunt may have accidentally emailed my sister instead of the Internet scammer who was the intended recipient of said email, and who may have duped her out of money. Again.)  But, until we all get together, we pretend not to know what we all really know anyway, and talk in obtuse pronouns and pronounced facial expressions until the Big Reveal.

What’s important in our ritual story telling over breakfast is sharing the information RIGHT THERE and hearing it from either the source, or from a witness’s first-hand perspective.  The conflict is always more heated, the emotions, more intense, in these real life re-enactments.  (In case you’re wondering, my favorite perspective is from my momdad, seen as one unit because they can’t seem to take turns telling a story, nor can they stop editorializing, so they’re like a two-headed, story-telling juggernaut.)

My Point?

Though I may not have written epic fantasies when I was six years old, I grew up surrounded by stories.  My family breakfasts were proving grounds for telling the best stories, especially since we lived the stories that we told.  It really wasn’t a matter of us telling the truth or not, more like the truth abounded in the conviction that what we told actually happened.  That we believed what we said.  In the telling, our “characters” refused to be flat and lifeless.  My parents can make buying groceries a more interesting story than hearing about a multiple car pileup on the news.  They can’t help but be enigmatically complex and full of conflict.  When my family orders dinner or pays the bill, drama surely follows.

I realize now that I was silly to feel like I had to legitimize my claim for wanting to be a published author.  I’m grateful that I’ve been able to experience stories.  That I was born to a family of storytellers.  Though I didn’t necessarily scribble stories about princes and knights or ghost tale massacres, I told the stories that have surrounded me my whole life (some journals may have been filled with angsty-teen, anti-parent rants.)  Besides, we all have to follow our own writerly path.

So, I’ll let other writers talk about how they’ve been writing stories before they can walk, and how writing to them is like breathing.  For me, I can embrace my heritage of story telling.  If it weren’t for my family, and our stories, then I wouldn’t have become such a devourer of tales.  Creating more stories, albeit in written form, is just an extension of that.

Stories are my life, and that is not only a truth that I can claim; it’s one that I’ve lived.

SO TELL ME: What did YOU want to be when you grew up?