If I were writing the Great American Novel, I would be white. If I were writing the Great American Novel, I would be 10-20 years older. If I were writing the Great American Novel, I would not look at the Wikipedia page for the Great American Novel daily, as if it held some sort of great and terrible secret that would tell me exactly what to write and how to write it.
Our conversation of this primal drive to know is divided into two parts. The first episode airing this week takes us from our primitive ancestors who lived in trees to Sir Isaac Newton. In Part II, which airs next week, we go from the wisdom of Newton to the most current knowledge we have about our universe.
Whether it's something that you simply want to leave for your children or grandchildren to read, or whether you went through something life changing or traumatic and feel that writing a memoir will help you exorcise some demons -- as a cathartic exercise -- then it's time to stop thinking about it and actually doing it.
I can turn away from writing. The beauty of it is not fame, fortune, or even recognition. Its value is best realized within, the journeys and joys of self-discovery. What writers can learn about themselves. I've done my share and it was...fun. But if the passion for reading wanes, that's a big gaping hole and I want to conclude the fault lies within which I must endeavor to discover.
Ever since I got into travel writing, I've been told to read the works of Joseph Conrad, Jack Kerouac, Edward Abbey, Bruce Chatwin, Paul Theroux, William Dalrymple, Bill Bryson, and other white men. While I learned a lot from their stories, I was also repeatedly left with questions about misogyny and racial insensitivity.