I’ve reached the stage in working on The Book of Whispers where I can’t write it any better without being in Jerusalem. So I’m going to Jerusalem. Next month. I can’t quite believe this myself.
Now, I’ve pretty much always travelled with other people. Travelling with Other People is like travelling in a bubble. My People keep at a distance the strangeness of a new place and the differentness of other people. They provide a barrier that means I don’t have to worry about newness and strangeness. Not very much. My People include someone else to help me interpret maps and menus, someone else to hide behind.
But this time, I’m fleshing out my nearly-fictional world. I need that newness and strangeness, without any barrier, without the ability to hide. I’m travelling all by myself. Not going with friends, not joining a tour, not meeting people when I get there. A work colleague of mine today said I was brave. And the truth is, I feel brave. I’m doing something that makes me uncomfortable, and it’s scary.
How can I use this? I’m looking at The Book of Whispers manuscript, and thinking of my character, Luca. For him, joining the Crusade isn’t brave because he’s going alone (he’s in an army of hundreds of thousands) but… he’s leaving everything he knows, with no idea of when he’ll be back home. No return ticket, helpfully including details such as how long connections are at various airports, no assurance of being back in time for a loved one’s birthday. No idea at all, just a feeling that he has to go.
Jerusalem has called both of us. Luca, back in 1097 and me, now. He has an armoured horse. I wonder if a modern airplane is kind of an armour for travellers? Certainly not failsafe…
Anyway, each of us armoured the best that we can, and facing our fears, Jerusalem, here we come.