A Journey (Not a Destination)
The November reflection continues
Hello and welcome! This is the 78th issue of Place, and this month, we’re trying out something a bit different. Over the past year and a half of running this newsletter, we’ve noticed how strongly the concept of ‘place’ resonates with people – not just with our readers, but with our writers as well. Working with our contributors and editing their work with them has shown us that place also cuts deep. Talking, or rather writing, about a place, brings people into raw spaces, to parts of themselves they may not have visited before – at least from that angle. Place incites emotion, sensuality, memory, and identity. All of the intangibles that make us who we are.
This month we’re inviting you into the process that we take with our contributors in the form of a month-long reflection on place. Each week in November we’ll offer you writing tips as well as prompts to get you thinking about the spaces you inhabit in the world. Keep in touch with your progress — perhaps it will even turn into something you may want to write for us.
Have something you’d like to write about for Place? Or know someone who might? Check out our pitch guide. We really want to hear your stories, and the great news is, we can now pay our contributors thanks to our generous subscribers who have supported us through our membership program. Even if you’re unsure if your idea fully fits Place, please do drop us a line – we’d love to chat.
At Place, we believe that the experiences, sensations and conversations we have as we move about the world stay with us, stacking up as the years go by, forming who we are and the way we view the world. If you’re the social type, follow us on Twitter (@place_letter) where you can share your favourite pieces and Instagram (@placenewsletter) for a visual feast. Yours, The Place editorial team.
Perhaps ironically, place is not a static idea. In order to get to or be in a place, we must go there, and that journey is often part of what shapes our experience. This week’s writing prompts are all about that idea of movement and what it can tell us about how we interact with the spaces around us.
It’s about the journey, as they say, not the destination.
This week’s writing tips
First, don’t judge where your mind wanders. Start writing about the first place that comes to mind when you think about these prompts, even if it is a place that isn’t particularly unique or interesting on its surface. A lot of travel writing makes it seem like the only places worth writing about are particularly breath-taking or awe-inspiring, but what we’ve realized through Place is that the ordinary spaces that make up the structure of our day-to-day lives can often be just as impactful.
Second, interrogate the initial feelings that you have about a place. After writing down your initial thoughts, go through each sentence and ask why, and then why again. Why do you have that emotion? Why is it that smell that particularly sticks out in your memory? This is where you start to unlock the connections between the physical reactions and more visceral feelings that are locked into a particular place.
This week’s questions:
-Let’s talk about journeys. How do you get around on a day to day basis? Think about the moment you step out your door and trace your movement throughout a typical day. What does it look like as you walk down the street, what do you see out your window?
-Think about different modes of transportation and how they make you feel. What is the difference between walking versus driving somewhere? What about the train or bus as compared to flying? Describe the aesthetic experience of your favorite mode of transportation -- what do the seats feel like, what are the sounds and smells that accompany this trip? What does this bring up for you emotionally? What stories do you have about going somewhere?
-What do you like best: the anticipation of the journey, arriving at a destination, or the transit itself? What do you like least? Can you describe a place that you were really excited to go to, and how it felt to get there? What about a place you weren’t as excited about going to?
The lost reverence for olives,
What the ocean means to those in Martinique.
Join us next week for your next assignment.