We’ve all taken another trip around the sun. And I hereby declare this is new year will be a year of change.
ARTIFACT INTERNATIONAL is officially launching.
If you’ve been enjoying/following my work over the past several years, and you want to support its continuation, please consider joining the program.
If 2024 will be a year of changes, I’d like it to be the year where I take positive and firm steps in the direction of increasing the quality and productivity of my work. To do this, I need accomplices.
My work goals in 2024 are as follows:
- Genius Loci — a monthly newsletter on the culture of place, nature, and travel.
- Drifting — a monthlyish, experimental newsletter on literal and literary wandering.
- Creative Journeys — a new, monthlyish podcast with conversations and dispatches about living the creative life.
- Codename AXIS — finish (and submit) the proposal for a book project I’ve been thinking about the last few years.
- And more!
Your support will go a long way in helping me achieve my production goals for 2024 and beyond.
To help me achieve my goals, please join my Patreon-like program: ARTIFACT INTERNATIONAL.
There are many benefits to joining, which are detailed on the membership page linked above. But the main benefits are:
- Discounts on my print books and prints for sale in the ARTIFACT shop.
- Digital copies of my books, like The Hill of the Skull.
- Access to the ARTIFACT community via our Discord server, where you can get feedback, ask questions, etc.
- My Lightroom preset pack, free.
- And more.
Wait a sec, you might be thinking. Don’t you do this work anyway? Why should I support you?
All of this work takes time and energy. And supporting my work frees up more of my time to continue doing this work. Most of my work is open and freely available to everyone, so you’ll be support my work on behalf of others too.
As William Deresiewicz details in his book The Death of the Artist, artists and creators are having a difficult time making a living off their work nowadays. Internet culture has cheapened and devalued the arts; it has made us expect culture (writing, journalism, music, TV, movies, etc.) to be free and cheap. The best thing someone can do to support artists and creators, Deresiewicz maintains, is to support artists and creators directly. That is, if we care about the arts and culture at all, we need to invest more directly in the creator economy.
Learn more about ARTIFACT INTERNATIONAL.
Join now, and let's make artifacts together.
Last month, I published an interview with Doreen Cunningham about her book Soundings on the Travel Writing World podcast.
On my website, I wrote the following:
- a new Drifting post on Orlando, images of war, and my square prints
- my 2023 end-of-year review
- and a postmortem on my unsuccessful Kickstarter campaign
Also, don’t forget that my book The Hill of the Skull and photography prints are available now on my shop.
Travel writing, nature writing, and the literature of place often explore the exotic and the distant. However, in recent years, influenced by literary criticism, the climate crisis, and the pandemic, there has been a shift towards focusing on what Georges Perec termed the “endotic”: the self, the domestic, and the home, as opposed to the exotic “other.” The “endotic” encompasses elements in our surroundings that are typically overlooked. It is that which “we generally don’t notice,” in Perec’s words. Approaching his new book, Local, from this domestic and seemingly ordinary viewpoint, self-described “adventurer” Alastair Humphreys discovers that “home” is not as dull and uninteresting as commonly perceived.
The book may not appear to be a significant departure from Alastair Humphreys’ earlier works. While he initially gained recognition as an “adventurer” for undertaking challenging feats in distant places (such as hauling a cart of supplies from Oman to Dubai through the Empty Quarter), his focus has shifted inward over the last decade. His recent endeavors are characterized by a more local and regional perspective, with terms like “microadventures” and the “doorstep mile” now closely associated with his body of work.
In his new book Local, Alastair Humphreys poses a central question: How can we embark on adventures, revel in the world and its nature, without causing harm to the planet? The title itself provides the answer: by embracing a local approach.
To be sure, the local and the domestic are not as thrilling as a flight to the foreign. But therein lies its great virtue. In the first chapter, Alastair writes:
“I don’t like where I live. I am here for my family, because they like it and I like them. And that’s reason enough. I’d much rather live in their world than live without them in mine. But I had developed a strong tendency to blame the area for most of my frustrations in life, despite being aware of the paradise paradox, which is the belief that moving to a picture-perfect destination will solve all your problems.”
This “paradise paradox” is a recurring theme in travel literature, philosophy, and self-help. In the first century, the Roman philosopher Seneca explored this idea in a letter to his friend Lucilius, citing Horace and Socrates when discussing whether travel could be a cure for discontent:
You need a change of soul rather than a change of climate… You always take yourself with you.
Alastair bought an Ordnance Survey map (1:25,000 scale) with his house at its center and, over the next 12 months, set off to see what he might find in each cell of the map’s grid.
I had worried that after years of global adventures this small map would make me feel claustrophobic. But I was wrong. It was a year of constraints, yes, but adventure with constraints is not only more responsible to the planet, it also forces you to be more imaginative.
Travel Book of the Year 2024
The shortlist for the 2024 Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards has been announced. I haven’t read all of the books on the shortlist, but the books do look interesting. Congratulations to all of the nominees. I spoke with nominees Tim Hannigan (who wrote about his local/native Cornwall), Leon McCarron (who joined Humphreys in the Empty Quarter), and Tom Parfitt on the Travel Writing World podcast last year, so be sure to check out those episodes.
From around the web
Wintering: Resilience, the Wisdom of Sadness, and How the Science of Trees Illuminates the Art of Self-Renewal Through Difficult Times via The Marginalian.
Book Passage is hosting on a virtual book club on Zoom in the first quarter of 2024. The focus is travel literature. The sessions are hosted by Michael Shapiro, with live appearances by authors Pico Iyer, Frances Mayes and Tim Cahill. Learn more and register here
Be a part of the first Dark Peak Photo Festival, held in the town Glossop in the Peak District in 2024. Deadline to submit: 20 Jan 2024.
On his Personal Landscapes podcast, Ryan Murdock speaks with Sarah Anderson about The Travel Bookshop in Notting Hill.
Who was Lee Miller? Why the model-turned-war photographer is finally getting her due.