If home is a feeling and not a place, then the place I’ve lived in for the last decade is feeling less like home every year. Our relationships with places change and, when this happens, it compels us to look at the world differently.
Thirteen years ago, as I was selling off all of my possessions and preparing to move to Spain, Florida looked different to me. Or, I should say that I started to notice Florida again. It was as if the environment was putting on one last show to ensure I would remember what I was leaving behind. Friendships grew a bit more tender in those waning days, as did the comforts I associated with home. Those things that I learned to ignore — the thunderstorms, the cicadas, the happy frogs, the lizards, the Spanish moss — beckoned me to pay attention to them again.
The same thing happened in the other direction, as I prepared to leave Spain. The country had roared back to life in all its confident vigor as if to say, I know you will never leave me. I only knew it was right when I returned to Florida; I was never was able to let my life in Spain go from heart or head.
A job waited for me in Orlando, as did an idea of “home.” But now that home no longer feels like home, and now that the job feels more like just another job, this place is asking me difficult questions: If Florida doesn’t feel like home, what is keeping you around? The job you don’t love? The family you don’t have nearby anymore? The city you never felt comfortable in? The culture and politics with which you find yourself at odds? Or, is it something else? Laziness? Fear?
I don’t have any answers. Not any clear ones, at least. Not yet.
The premium version of The Hill of the Skull is still running into production issues, but I’m happy to say that the Amazon version is now available!
Getting the paperback version of The Hill of the Skull dialed in has been a challenge. I’m using two different printers: one to produce books for the major online retailers, and another specifically to produce a premium version exclusive to my online shop. I thought the printer would have fixed the issue by Thanksgiving, but alas! Side note: I have been writing about these creative issues in my Creator’s Log.
Square prints from The Hill of the Skull are also available on my online shop. I am currently running a sale on the 5-print bundle (33% off), and ARTIFACT INTERNATIONAL members get an additional 40% off. With these discounts combined, those prints are 60% off. 🔥
ARTIFACT INTERNATIONAL is a membership community I’ve been trying to jump-start. It is like Patreon, but it is hosted on my own website. For the cost of a small coffee each month, you can directly support me and my work. Most of my work is open-access and free for all (Travel Writing World, etc.), so your support helps maintain this public-facing work. The program immediately pays for itself in the form of coupon codes to prints and books. I’m still working on providing more value and benefits, but joining as a member for $5 each month saves $40 on the print bundle… It is a no-brainer if you’re thinking about getting something from my shop.
The square prints are 6 x 6 inches (15.25 x 15.25 cm) and are beautifully printed using archival materials (pigment inks, etc.). I got the idea for square prints from Magnum’s annual square print sale. Magnum prices their prints at $100 each. My square prints — just as beautiful, I must say — cost as little as $12 each with all the discounts I’m offering here.
In other news, Travel Writing World is slowly emerging from hibernation. I published two episodes last month. I spoke with Thomas Bird about his book Harmony Express and the Chinese rail network. I also spoke with Thomas Swick about his latest memoir Falling into Place. The future of TWW is in question. I’ll have more to say about this in my annual update, to be posted later December.
From around the web
Aatish Taseer, who wrote an endorsement for The Hill of the Skull, goes on an epic pilgrimage for The New York Times. There are some eerie parallels between our two journeys taken a few months apart.
It is okay to read the comments section of Travel Writers: Why Trust Us?
It is worth revisiting Susan Sontag’s Regarding the Pain of Others, a book about the images and photography of war and violence.
Michael Kerr of Deskbound Traveller published his favorite books of 2023. I suspect many of these will appear in the Edward Stanford Travel Book of the Year shortlist, due December 4.
The Nature Conservancy announces the winners of its 2023 photo contest.
The Raw Society Magazine Issue II is now available.
The winners of Paris Photo’s 2023 photobook awards!
Fumi Nagasaka’s photobook of Alabama looks pretty great (GOST 2023).
An Interview with Tim Carpenter: To Photograph is to Learn How to Die.
Tony Wheeler, co-founder of Lonely Planet, funds new history of travel writing PhDs at the University of Warwick.
The Importance of Looking at What (and Who) You Don’t See.
That’s it for this month! See you next year!