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15 Months In: Writer on the Road

Updated: Mar 19




It’s kind of funny.

I’m a writer and I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words in the last few years, yet when I sit down to write this blog post I don’t know where to begin. But I feel compelled to write because I have all of these feelings inside, and keeping them bottled up doesn’t work for me. Not for long anyway.


Let’s begin with the aforementioned feelings. What are they and where did they come from? Not easy questions to answer in detail, but I can talk about them in broad strokes. Some of the feelings have been with me for years. Those are the ones associated with following my dreams, not being forced to stay in a situation because of money. And let’s face it, money (or the lack of it) is the reason most people give for not living the life they wish to live. I’ve ridden that train for years myself, and after a couple of huge life-changing events in 2018 I decided I was going to do something about it. I was 52 years old, single again, and on rock bottom. In January of 2018 I decided that that by June of 2019 I would be living an entirely different life. I purposed to change everything about how I was living – after 18 months of brutally hard work and saving money, that’s exactly what I did.


If you’ve followed my journey at all, you know that I rid myself of most every material possession I owned, which by then was very little. Still, I unloaded it all. I determined I would live like a nomad as much as possible, no fixed address, and no guarantees. That last part, no guarantees, is the things that seems to scare people the most. I was one of those people for decades, but here’s the plain truth that is often not acknowledged: There is NEVER a guarantee. No guarantee of success, that you won’t fail, and no guarantee of living long enough to retire if you’re fortunate enough to have money for retirement in the first place.

Of course, I still had a plan. I love to do things with a purpose, and as wonderful as it is to simply wander around and see beautiful places, I wanted there to be deeper meaning behind my actions. I was a writer after all, though only in my spare time up until that point, and I wanted writing to be the tool I used to make a difference and fund my way. So, in June of 2019 I left my home state of Kentucky and headed west. I wish I could adequately describe how it felt to be rolling down the highway with no particular place to be, or time to be there. All I had was the bare necessities in my car, and the dreams in my heart. It was a true “all or nothing” thing I was doing, and I’ve never felt lighter in my life.

I camped in remote places, drove lonely roads, saw new horizons, and all while writing my heart out. Much of the writing I was doing during 2019 was for hire. I was doing gig work for a particular book writing company, and initially had high hopes about where that would lead. Unfortunately, it led mostly to empty promises, some seriously weird stuff, being underpaid, or having to fight to get paid for work delivered. I later discovered I was one writer among many to be burned like that, so I quietly parted ways in the fall of 2019. The experience left me pretty much flat broke, but in the end it’s my fault for allowing myself to be sucked in. Still, I have no regrets because I had some great times, tons of writing experience, traveled to some very cool places, and met some interesting people.


Hands down, the highlight of my association with that company was when I was traveling through the Texas panhandle and discovered a small town I had never heard of before. Vega, Texas. Again, if you’ve followed my journey at all you know that Vega is the small town where I was first introduced to the beautiful and tragic story of Valerie Doshier. It was another moment of experiencing something that I can only describe as supernatural, because I can explain it no other way. Her story gripped my heart – fast forward 12 months and I am now writing a book (a kind of memoir that will demonstrate the power and beauty of a life lived from a place of deep love) about her life. I’m working closely with her mother on the project.

I find it interesting that I encountered Valerie’s story at a time when I was in serious need of money. In order to continue doing things, like buying gas and eating from time to time, I needed to come up with a plan. I spent the next few months trying to come up with said plan. I wasn’t ready to put my nomadic ways on the shelf, and I knew if I went back to a “regular job” I may never complete Valerie’s book, or my own. I have been doing content writing and ghostwriting for more than 5 years, but I knew deep in my soul that I would play a role in getting Valerie’s story out to the world. It may sound trite to some, but it’s a genuine calling that I must answer. No one has hired me to do this, but I will do it. It’s been suggested to me that I should do a Patreon, or even a Gofundme. I don’t know why, but it just feels weird to me to ask others to fund what I’m doing. Yeah, on one hand it’d be great, but on the other would I be just one more person asking for donations and thus diluting the power of my work? Who knows…


So, the journey continues much like it began. There are still no guarantees that everything will work out, but I have faith that it will one way or another. There have been campgrounds, mountain cabins, and a few questionable hotels. There have been fancy meals in luxurious restaurants, and cold soup from the can on the side of the road. I’ve driven four wheels, and ridden on two. I started the journey pre-pandemic, and now live in a different world. I still write for hire, and I’m still filled with a myriad of feelings that are tough to describe to others.

I’m still working hard to keep enough money coming in so I can continue. And most importantly, there is meaning behind my actions. My work is important to me, and I’m slowly learning that it’s important to a growing number of others too.

I feel there are others out there who have stories that need to be told. Even if I don’t write them I hope to encourage someone to do it.

I get asked every now and then, if it’s lonely doing what I do. The simple answer is, yes. The not-so-simple answer we’ll save for another time. But, it’s not like I’m miserable or sad all the time. Life is more meaningful and beautiful to me now than ever, and while it would sometimes be nice to share it with someone else, I love it deeply. Besides, who would want to live like I’m living right now?! LOL


Getting back to writing, I am getting close to completing my next book. FINALLY! I haven’t put out a book of my own for 4 years (how did that happen?!) but it won’t be too long. My next book will be called NIGHT WORDS, and you’ve seen me post those writings if you follow me on social media. I will be so happy to have it done and out into the world. Of course, I’m also working on the Valerie book project.

Lots to write, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I think every writer dies with unwritten work still inside, but I want to get as much of it out as I can before my time comes.

Love you guys and I’m grateful you’re with me on this journey.

UPDATE:

Okay,

In the above blog post I mentioned my feelings about people giving me money and all of that. Since posting this I’ve already had a couple of people message me telling me they understand my reluctance, but that if I wasn’t comfortable with something like GoFundMe or Patreon, that I should at least give people the option to help in other ways and to share the links below.

Geez, I suck at this. I’ve always worked hard to do most everything on my own. And I admit that it feels a little self-serving and weird. But, I’ve also learned to humbly accept help when offered. So, if you feel so moved to help buy a tank of gas, food, or coffee, and help keep this writer train rolling here are those links.

Venmo User ID: @Keith-Smith-142

God, I’m trying not to cringe about posting that. Sheesh.


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