However long the necessary time for you to write a novel or story, and by whatever means you use to get the writing down in some form, these times have nudged and bumped you out of reality as a communal sense and thrust you headlong into your own equivalent of Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey.
Within the reality of communal reach, you have hunkered over tables in dank rooms, intent on causing precise geometric action between striped balls and solid ones; you have fancied yourself in differing states of romantic connection with a wide spectrum of womankind; you have sat in crowded lecture halls, trying to relate the professor’s version of a particular poem or story or novel with your own; you have tried to follow the narrow-but entrancing thematic pathway illuminated by sundry jazz and blues musicians through the smoky and beer-laden haze of small rooms; and you have felt yourself spin precipitously if you dared close your eyes, which was the thing you most needed to do in order to sleep your way beyond the chaos and uproar you’d drunk yourself into as a consequence of the persistent reminders that you did not know who or where you were in relation to yourself, to the literature you’d studied, the geometric and physical reactions you’d tried to understand on pool tables, and least of all to the community of which you’d presumed yourself to be a part.
Your equivalent of the hero’s journey, your personal bildungsroman, has emerged to be your attempt to write your way into the forces and systems through which you travel with a goal of emerging as less a travel writer and more of a veteran, returning home after a distracting series of adventures which would on contemplation and decoding, render you at the least sufficient company for yourself.
To be sure, there would be—will be—additional adventures, times when, once again, you will leave the clangorous din of the community, entering frontiers you’d not dreamed to exist, sent by your curiosity as Lewis and Clark were sent by President Jefferson to chart a place, a construct, that did not in fact exist, nevertheless bringing back records of things of some insightful nature.
You are not a great one for bringing souvenirs as such from your outer travels, rather memories of how a place felt, what it was like to talk to someone at a particular “there” you’d visited either from abject curiosity or a desire to be distracted from where you were or were not, relative to where you’d traveled from.
Nor do you tend to have many tangible mementos from your inner travels, wherein you built edifices of words and paragraphs, tried with varying degrees of success to bring individuals to life in ways not unlike Dr. Frankenstein’s attempts to create life. You have the printed results, of course, but they have a tendency when held up to the light to lumber about, much as Dr. Frankenstein’s creation did, seeking in ways that remind you of the ways you sought and persist in trying to access.
Many of the writers you admire have produced considerable bodies of work, among which one or two are brilliant reflections while the others must be content to shine. Not all stars are of the same brightness, but taken together, they cast an encouraging light.
The simple act of finding an inner terrain to travel is no assurance you will find significant artifacts there to discover. Interior error is as much a possibility as error in the communal, outer world. The danger always exists that, having secured the funds and equipment for a trip to the interior, you will return empty handed or with a sack full of tourist gewgaws, made in some other interior landscape where the labor costs are cheaper.
Thus is the heroic label taken from your journey, the romantic from your deed, the error-free aura from your performance, all of which is as it should be, inner and outer. Nevertheless.
Nevertheless, you pack for the next trip with a clean shirt, your nails at least given a fresh trim, your cheeks and chin shaved, in case you should meet La Belle Dame Sans Merci, whom, you have it on good authority, might well be in the neighborhood.