In my last 5NWAuthors blog post I wrote about how a travel experience to North Queensland, Australia in 1993 led to a novella, On the Far Bluff. What I didn’t mention was that the experience was initially published as a travel essay in The Seattle Times in 1995 and ushered me into a period of freelance travel writing. It had also been a finalist in the Pacific Northwest Writers Association contest, adult article/essay category. Afterward, the original draft of On the Far Bluff took shape. But it lacked substance and authenticity; scenes that I hadn’t actually experienced felt hollow. Yet I never asked, “Should this experience be published as a book or was a travel essay enough?”
Well, that’s the question I wound up facing when I began to edit On the Far Bluff for e-print this year. Copyediting wasn’t the only problem. There were lingering questions about authenticity that had never been answered. A second trip to Queensland, Australia may have answered them. But I wasn’t inclined to go back. The draw to adventure travel had long lost its appeal (I left travel writing in 1999); the original source of inspiration had run dry. I had also evolved past the issues presented in the novella. They felt like an old skin I’d shed.
Even though, as I said in my last post, experiences may not ripen until we get older, we can also ripen past them.
So I finally let go of the crocodiles, wombats, billabongs, and the bluff spirits of 1993 Laura, Queensland, Australia. Some experiences, and the writing they generate, are best left in the past.
Catherine (Cathy) Kigerl teaches Introduction to the Humanities online for College of the Siskiyous
She currently resides in western Washington State with her husband, William.
Road to Laura, Queensland, Australia. 1993. © Cathy Kigerl