I don't have any tattoos. If I had one, it would be a compass. That's the Eagle Scout in me -- always orienteering, always wanting to know which way I'm headed. In the hands of a skilled operator, a compass can give you a pretty good idea of where you are. More important, it can get you where you want to be. Of all the cardinals, West is looking pretty good at the moment.
I'm working on a book and taking the writing work seriously for the first time. My goal is simple: to get the damn thing published before I turn 30. When my grandfather published his first book, he used the advance to take his wife and four kids on a summer-long road trip out west.
While they were able, my grandparents traveled the world. The understood the value of experience, the importance of living outside of your comfort zone. They understood it so well that they were willing to load four kids into a station wagon and take them camping in places like Yellowstone and Badlands National Park.
Advances aren't what they used to be. But if I sell this thing, Frances and I are heading westward. While I'd love to repeat that summer-long odyssey, neither of us has three months of vacation. For me, the allure of the American west has been the inherent contradiction of the hardness of the country and its beauty. Any time out west would be time well spent.