Monday, November 15, 2010
My Best Friends are All Adventurers
by Patricia Sprinkle
My friend Miriam once confided, "I always wanted to be an adventurer."
She and I recently returned from a five-week trip to India and Nepal. She wrote me a note afterward: "Thanks for the adventure of a lifetime." It was. The real purpose of our trip was to teach creative writing for three weeks to middle school students in a small village school, but we can also check "Ride an elephant," "Visit the Taj Mahal," and "See the Himalayas" off our bucket lists.
Only recently have I begun to appreciate how brave we were. We went alone and made our own travel arrangements, staying in moderately priced hotels and hiring our own guides. Everything went exactly as planned except when our train from Agra to Delhi took us to a station across the city from our hotel. We will never forget our late-night ride through Delhi traffic in an auto-rickshaw, also known as a tuk-tuk. Most of the tuk-tuks we saw had some religious talisman swinging from the mirror or painted on the front. We know why. Riding a tuk-tuk through India's traffic does wonders for your prayer life.
Or maybe we weren't so brave. Maybe we were just finally having some of the adventures our favorite characters have been having for years. You see, Miriam and I are both avid readers. As I think about it, all my best friends are avid readers. Seldom am I with a good friend that we don't discuss at least one book.
If people who read are adventurers at heart, that goes double for writers of fiction. We inhabit two worlds most of the time--the mundane world our bodies move around in and the far-more-exiting world our characters know. No reader enjoys an adventure in a book that the author hasn't already experienced, revisited, and honed down to its bare bones.
Maybe that's why the authors I know are so enjoyable to be around. Every one of them is as interesting as the people s/he writes about. While the mystery writers don't generally go around killing people, the romance writers are seldom involved in torrid affairs, and the southern novelists don't spend their entire days drinking mint juleps and coming up with cute new expressions, they are all curious about life and aware that there are more things under the sun than any of us will ever comprehend. As the late Charlotte MacLeod once said, "Don't write what you know, write what you want to know." Anybody who meets Charlotte's quirky characters will be astonished at how many things Charlotte wanted to know.
So let's lift a glass to readers and writers, people who know that life is short and ought to be lived to the fullest. As a note says on the bulletin board above my desk, "Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather let's skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, total worn out and loudly proclaiming, 'Wow! What a ride!'"
If your own life gets too dull, let me recommend a ride in Indian tuk-tuk.
Patricia Sprinkle is the author of twenty mysteries and three novels. Her most recent novel is Hold Up the Sky. A fourth, Friday's Daughter, will be released in March.