WorldSmith of the Month is a new feature, showcasing traveling artists and creative professionals around the world. I believe travel in itself can be a creative pursuit, but there are so many ways travel and art can (and do) intersect and fuel one another. Travel can bring you closer to creative endeavors, and living creatively can help you travel more. Read on to meet the newest addition to the WorldSmith community and learn how she balances art and travel.
How many of us had our wanderlust first inspired by a beloved book? The Three Musketeers swashbuckles us to 17th century France. Shogun turns back the clock to feudal Japan. Authors from Ernest Hemingway to Elizabeth Gilbert are as famous for their personal travels as they are for their writing. In fantasy writer Alina Popescu’s first novel, she had the unique pleasure of reliving some of her favorite trips through the eyes of her heroine. From her earliest memories, she says, “Travel was something I looked forward to, and the urge to see more, discover more, became a part of who I am.”
The Edge of Hope, the first installment of a paranormal trilogy, was finished on a month-long road trip, culminating in a marathon couple of days writing in the tiny German village of Schweich. Once the last chapter was finished, Alina celebrated with friends over a lavish dinner in nearby Trier followed by a walk to Porta Nigra. Sounds like a romantic lifestyle, no?
“Much like travel, telling stories is part of who I am,” Alina says. “If I take long breaks from it, the world no longer seems to be right.”
Alina’s writing career has now been her focus for the past six years. She says, “Although I’ve spent a few years in the corporate world, the normal 9-to-5 never cut it for me. It makes it impossible to travel longer, or to always work on projects that you are passionate about. So I quickly moved to my own business, and then more into blogging, freelance writing, and writing fiction.”
Balancing writing and travel isn’t always easy. At first, Alina especially struggled with finding time to write in a new destination, “when everything is distracting and enticing.” Now she likes to get up early and use the first few hours of the day to take care of work, whether from home or a makeshift office for the day. “I love working in different places,” she says. “I find [that] I am sometimes more inspired when I change my scenery.” Cafes are a favorite spot to connect with fellow author friends and motivate one another to work over weekends and holidays when most people get to take a break.
Whether she’s working on a publisher or a self-published title, the writing process is largely the same. She goes through professional editing, cover design, and marketing for all her titles, including The Edge of Hope and the rest of the Bad Blood series. She says, “I prefer to have the freedom to set my own publishing schedule…Sometimes, I don’t feel like waiting for a year to see a title published.”
Being a full-time writer definitely changes your travel habits. “Whatever itinerary I come up with, there’s also a reserved slot of time for writing,” Alina says. The exceptions are trips like the Birmingham book signing, pictured above. “At those times, books and writing are front and center, and sightseeing is what happens in between.”
Of course, having a portable career also gives you the freedom to pursue your own travels on your own timeline. Most of Alina’s adventures have their roots in books. “I don’t think there’s any destination I’ve been to or dreamed of going to that does not have a literary connection of some sort,” she says. “I’d even want to go explore the Arctic, because the first book I ever read on my own featured a circus polar bear who leaves to go back to the North Pole.”
“If there’s a place that’s even remotely linked to an author or a book, it’s first on my to-see list,” she adds.
Alina currently keeps her international escapades down to one or two a year, but has traveled more frequently in the past. She also takes plenty of mini-breaks closer to her hometown of Ploiesti, Romania, at least once every other month. Most recently, she enjoyed a digital detox in the countryside with her dad’s three dogs, a number of hatching chickens, and little to no WiFi connection.
While she now travels freely, born in communist Romania, her earliest childhood travels were all domestic. “I can’t really remember a time without some form of travel,” Alina says. Family trips included summertime sojourns to the Black Sea or the Bucegi Mountains, camps in the middle of nowhere in Transylvania, and explorations of other Romanian cities like Sighisoara (pictured above).
Next on Alina’s wander-list is a week in Birmingham at the end of May for the Birmingham Pride festival and countryside adventures with an author friend. She doesn’t have other 2017 vacation plans settled yet, but Barcelona, the Danube Delta, and Norway are all ideas in the mix.
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