Over my almost six years of posting here, I’ve scattered a few details of a family who I think helped create the person I am today, including a much loved uncle, Gerald, and his wife and children. Gerald was my mother’s brother, and much of their writing took place in letters they sent each other. I have many of Gerald’s letters to my mother, and his son Bruce has some of her letters to his father. We’ve both said that we should match them up, but it’s a task I’ve yet to undertake because I know it’ll feel a little like I’m intruding on a conversation not meant for me. One day…
As well as being avid readers, everyone in my immediate family writes (both of my late parents, both of my siblings), so writing was obviously respected and encouraged. In my case in particular, Uncle Gerald urged me to develop as a writer. So is writing an activity that’s nurtured? I certainly know writers who were never encouraged by anyone to take up the pen–and some whose families don’t even know they write. So then is writing an innate compulsion, maybe the result of a recessive gene that suddenly surfaces and dooms its carrier to rejection letters and meager compensation?
What causes any compulsion to create? That question is probably as old as the first time a kid “defaced” a cave wall and his father looked at his mother and grunted, his facial expression conveying, Can’t you control him? and her expression replying, He gets it from YOUR side of the family.
Uncle Gerald has a granddaughter he never got to meet, and though I know and love her parents, I’ve also never met her. But either because she was encouraged to write, or because she has the writing gene, I’m about to enjoy the experience of getting to know her. She and two friends have written The Lost Girls: Three Friends. Four Continents. One Unconventional Detour Around the World., a book about their decision to leave their jobs and their boyfriends and take a year to travel the globe. From Publishers Weekly:
[T]he three take turns chronicling a journey from Peru to Kenya to Vietnam to Australia, and everywhere in between. Though they don’t always get along, the three learn to rely on each other, keep their minds open and throw themselves enthusiastically after every adventure that comes their way. The three authors, all gifted writers (each has worked as a journalist), provide passionate, vivid descriptions of their far-flung travels, bolstered by thoughtful insights and genuine intentions, making this an intensely enjoyable read for fans of travel writing; their semi-improvisatory experience provides a broader look at travel than either a luxury tour or a backpacking trip would, proving especially resonant. This memoir should also be immediately relatable for any twenty-something unsure of his or her future (i.e., most of them).
Authors Amanda Pressner, Holly C. Corbett, and Jennifer Baggett, with Jennifer’s parents Bruce and April, at the book launch party in New York.
When April sent the photos from the party, she expressed her delight that the reviews call Jennifer a journalist, because her blog and the book are actually her first writing ventures. I like to think she’s blended her sense of adventure and her drive with a writing talent she inherited from her grandfather.
For more information about these young writers and their book, there’s a great article in USA Today. You might also have seen them interviewed on TV–I’m very excited for them!
Here’s a promotional video about the book:
I’m sure The Lost Girls, published by Harper Collins, is available from your local booksellers–I hope to be picking up mine today–and of course you can order it from amazon.com.