Essaying Wanderlust

Essaying Wanderlust: "Let each man exercise the art he knows." ~ Aristophanes

Essaying wanderlust…

[It’s almost time for the] launch of Wanderlust, the first in a series of short format memoirs. I’ve been writing and revising these chronicles for four years during which time they’ve evolved from a single-but-sprawling Year in Provence style narrative into a more intimate collection of extended essays exploring the notion (and artifacts) of “home”.

Essaying vs. Wandering

At first glance wanderlust and essay seem to be odd bedfellows. One is carefree, omnivorous and easily distracted; the other is systematic, focused and (ideally) conclusive. One is a potentially undisciplined adventure outward propelled by curiosity. The other is a disciplined journey inward propelled by opinion, judgment and evidence.

Or so we’re lead to believe by parents and teachers.

To be sure, wanderlust and essays can be penned into polar continents, but they needn’t be. In fact, perhaps they’re not so dissimilar at all. A little etymology opens the possibility.

Middle French essai, ultimately from Late Latin exagium act of weighing (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Think of weighing in terms of exploring, considering, comparing,… Think of weighing an idea. Discovering possibilities. Brainstorming. Assessing. Think of endeavoring to understand something better.

essay \ˈe-ˌsā; also e-ˈsā\
verb: to try to do, perform, or deal with (something)
noun: a short piece of writing that tells a person’s thoughts or opinions about a subject
First Known Use: 14th century
(Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

An essay in the broadest, most ample sense is an attempt. An experiment. A foray into a subject endeavoring to explore and – hopefully – better understand the subject. An essay is a composition that tries to weigh something.

Redacting Rosslyn Redux

Rosslyn Redux was born out of renovation. It was an attempt to understand why converting a dilapidated house into a livable home mushroomed into a multi-year journey. It was an attempt to do something with the stories and artifacts and history that were discovered in the process. It was an attempt to honor the heritage of a place and the people who made it valuable. It was an attempt to “heal”, to expiate the excess, and to celebrate success once the dust settled. It was an attempt to understand the series of events that kidnapped much of our lives for several years. It was an attempt to move on.

I envisioned a tidy A Year in Provence or a sprawling Under the Tuscan Sun. What I didn’t envision was that the process of telling the story would turn out to be as challenging, confusing, and (ultimately) as rewarding as renovating Rosslyn had been in the first place. I also didn’t envision the story evolving from novel-esque chronicle into an experimental series of narratively structured essays that explore the following themes:

  • Wanderlust to Houselust Why does a diehard vangabond settle down?
  • Archeology of Home Digging into the weird and wacky artifacts of “home”.
  • Rehab Ad Infinitum Renovating. Never. Ends. Learned the hard way!
  • DIY: Design, Build, Share Parallels remodeling a house with writing a book…

The four mini-memoirs chronicle my adventure from wanderlust to writing a book. Or four! But they do so in an unconventional way. With more than a few broken rules along the way. Each is a tangle of interwoven stories comprising a thematically focused “essay” with a decidedly scrapbook feel. And in a strange way, the process of revising and preparing the manuscripts for the public marks a return to the wanderlust that I thought I’d abandoned when I plunged into home ownership in the summer of 2006.

A Return to Wanderlust

Wanderlust is opportunity. It is the yearning simply to go, to leave without an anticipated return date, or determined destination… It is an overwhelming need to escape, traverse, and rove… Wanderlust is raw desire… ~ Rachel Narozniak (Examiner)

If the first book is a prequel to the renovation story, the fourth book is a sequel. W2H explores the back story for why I abandoned the mortgage-free lifestyle of a footloose global nomad. The next two books plunge into the all-consuming  3-4 years of saving an historic home, a marriage, our sanity, etc. AofH focuses on all of the bizarre baggage that we load on top of a home, and RAI focuses on the endless process, and the ever retreating finish line. But DIY is about stepping away from the project and transforming it into a story. It focuses on the “do it yourself” approach we took to revitalizing Rosslyn and the “do it yourself” approach I’m taking with developing and sharing the story. It is a plunge into the rapidly transforming world of publishing in the 21st century in the same way that buying Rosslyn and swapping Manhattan for the Adirondacks was an adventure into uncharted but fascinating (and SUPER risky) waters.

It is the story of how the vision for the Rosslyn Redux memoir became four separate story/essay/scrapbooks. It is the story pulling up the anchor and heading off on a new adventure!

7 Comments to “Essaying Wanderlust”

  1. Amy Guglielmo says:

    Where do we read these four stories?

  2. Amy Guglielmo says:

    Congrats!

  3. virtualDavis says:

    Wanderlust will be flowing through the spigot soon… :-)

  4. Sandra Weber says:

    George, I am so glad we re-connected. It is amazing how many creative, energetic, talented, inventive thinkers are hermiting in the Adirondacks. (I just made up that word–hermiting–because I can. HaHa!)

  5. virtualDavis says:

    I too am pleased, and looking forward to our next poetry swap. I’ll expect a few rhymed couplets on the theme of Adirondack hermitting from you… ;-)

  6. virtualDavis says:

    Thanks, Amy. The first is “whiffling through the tulgey wood” right now, burbling as it comes. Expect it before the Adirondack daffodils bloom!

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