By Chuck Woodbury
My long time buddy Dave Williams wrote something in his blog this week that got me thinking.
Dave wrote: “People in campgrounds and RV parks must think I’m weird. Maybe even scary. They’ve got to be suspicious. I’m pretty sure they warn their kids to stay away from me. I arrive alone, hook up to the power and water, and then I disappear inside my camper for days. . . . I don’t put out camp chairs or fishing tackle. I don’t set up a grill, lanterns, a pile of firewood or any other indications that a campsite is occupied and intended to be enjoyed. . . I just plug in and disappear.”
I had to laugh when I read this because I do the very same thing! I have often wondered what people in campgrounds think of me when they see no activity around my motorhome. There have been times when I’ve walked outside to be greeted by a neighbor who said, “Oh, I didn’t think anyone was in there.”
Dave and I share a common love beyond RVing. We both love to write. I can spend days on end writing, and I know Dave can, too. Dave wrote in his posting about how he adores his wife, but he says when she comes along on his trips he can’t write. I know the feeling. When you are with someone, you socialize. You do things. You go places. You have “cocktail time.” When I bring someone along, I feel guilty about spending so much time writing. It may be fun for me, but I know it’s boring for my companion.
Writing is a very solitary thing. I suspect for most writers it’s best done in the company of only oneself.
MOST OF MY TRAVELING is for my “business.” I write for this newsletter, I write stories about RVing for our various blogs, sometimes I just write in my personal journal. Every once in awhile I take on a magazine assignment. Once I even wrote a book. I am what’s known as a writing fool!
Yes, I stay in campgrounds, so technically speaking I’m camping. I take occasional walks and hikes. I make a campfire once in awhile. But mostly, when I am alone, I just write. Ah, the peace, the solitude — the freedom to follow one’s own rhythm! Often when I look out my window, there’s a lake, a beautiful forest, the ocean or a river. To me, writing amid nature’s beauty is about as good as it gets.
But my incessant writing is a problem because I need to be alone to do it. The problem is that I like people. I enjoy traveling with my very special lady. But when I travel with someone, I am Chuck the traveler not Chuck the writer. And when that happens, yes, I have fun, but soon my writing addiction grabs me and I begin to get edgy, nervous. Before long I crave a keyboard. “Lock me in a room. Leave me alone. Let me write.”
Sometimes I think I am all messed up. But so far, after all these years, I can still interact with other people and appear normal. They do not know about my secret addiction. So I think I am okay, at least superficially.
Photo: That’s me a long time ago back when the world was black and white. I took the photo using a self-timer through the back window of my first RV on the first night of my first trip as a freelance magazine writer in that tiny, 18-foot, leaky, mechanically challenged, poor excuse for a motorhome. I am typing on a typewriter. Oh, writing was not fun on that primitive device. My hair, as you can see, is not gray like today. For some reason when I got older it turned that color. I don’t like it, but I won’t get it dyed because I would look stupid. And looking gray is better than looking stupid.