How a Harebrained Idea is Turning Into a Cross-Country Trip

Over 10,000 miles. 31 states. 115 days.

I want to leave tomorrow.

For years, Maile and I have dreamed of hitting the road for an extended period of time. We’ve always enjoyed road trips and exploring new places. When I started writing full time just over two years ago, this idea began percolating: What if I could line up enough writing work to pay the bills while we traveled the country? After all, I can write anywhere, and since Maile home schools the kids we wouldn’t have to worry about taking them out of school. We don’t own a house, so we could put our stuff in storage and our rent money would cover the fuel (almost).

Well, this winter a few projects came through. So on February 15th, we’ll be starting our whirlwind tour of the United States. We’ll load up our four kids and some of our stuff into my uncle’s 40-foot bus-turned-RV, tow our minivan behind us, and for the next four months wind our way over hill and vale (“What’s a vale?” you might ask. Why, it’s a valley, often coursed by a stream. I’m glad you asked).

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But we need your help to make this more than just a sightseeing trip.

One thing we’d like to do is interact with folks serving their communities. We’d love to help you at your soup kitchen or food pantry or church. Check out our itinerary, and if we’ll be in your area at the same time as any kind of service project you’re involved in, let me know. We’d love to help.

Secondly, I’m going to be releasing an eBook sometime in February about my first 15 months making a living as a writer. I know a lot of you are very talented writers and would love to monetize your skillz – I’m hoping this eBook will give you some creative ideas on how to do that. But the book will also hopefully serve as an encouragement to those of you thinking about getting out of a day job that’s boring you to death and into a line of work you are passionate about.

One of the coolest things about this eBook is that it’s going to contain snippets from other folks who make money as writers, folks like Jason Boyett (author of O Me of Little Faith), Bryan Allain (founder of Killer Tribes), Stacy Barton (author of Surviving Nashville), Kristin Tennant (freelance writer and blogger extraordinaire), and Tyler Stanton (author of Everyday Absurdities, famous for MC-ing at the Catalyst events, and one of the funniest men on the planet). And there are more on the way. They’ll give you a little insight into what it took for them to make the leap, or start to make the leap, into making money in a field they really care about.

What does this have to do with our trip? I hope to have the eBook out before we leave on our trip, or right around that time, and I’d love to meet up with writers all over the country to hear about the state of writing in 2012. What do you think about the writing industry? How do you spend your time writing? Do you write in community or alone? Are you trying to make money with your talent or happy to keep it as a hobby? With your help, my goal is to set up small, informal writer’s gatherings in coffee shops or libraries or your house (or my bus) to talk about the art of writing and encourage each other on this path of creativity.

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Please check out our itinerary and contact me if you think you can help us in one of those two ways: connect us to a service project going on in your community, or help me gather some of your creative friends in one place to talk about writing. I’d be honored to meet you and hear about what’s going on in your neck of the woods.

32 Replies to “How a Harebrained Idea is Turning Into a Cross-Country Trip”

    1. I didn’t realize that’s where you are at, Glynn. I’d love to meet you. Perhaps we could arrange something when the time draws a little closer?

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  1. Great idea, Shawn. I will follow your path with interest. I love the idea that you are combining service with travel and writing. You might get some help with that by contacting denominational offices, Salvation Army headquarters, etc. I used to have a fantasy of doing something similar. Your kids will never forget their time on the road with you. Wonderful opportunity to teach just about every subject.

  2. What a cool idea! I love the idea of combining the trip into so many possibilities: writing, service, education for the kidlets (and you). LOVE IT. Come to Tulsa!

  3. First of all i have to see this “bus”. I am envisioning cousin Eddie’s RV. :)

    Second, can me and my family come??????

    1. I haven’t actually seen it yet, but I’m fairly certain it’s not a replica of that particular poop-mobile. You guys can definitely come. Wait, let me check with Maile…Yep, you can come. But with four adults and seven kids it may turn into an episode of survivor.

  4. I can’t wait to meet you at Killer Tribes! I doubt you’d have enough time to do any service project while you’re in Nashville given the conference but I can keep my ears open if you want.

    1. I’m looking forward to that as well, Leigh. Please let me know if you hear of anything around that weekend. We’re trying to keep some margin in our schedule so that we can take advantage of service opportunities that come up.

  5. Shawn This is so neat…ala Steinbecks Travels with Charley, only just a bigger crew and vehicle(s) added!

    I wish you so much adventure from this… I am thinking of how I can help along the lines you suggested and am doing a lot of hmmmms.. they sometimes turn into great ideas, (other times not so much! )

    Will let you know which soon ! All the Best John F Crotty

  6. Shawn Maile,I know We have a local writers club in Canyon Lake,Texas. Lakeview Writers Cabins, bus stop and showers available?
    Mr. Alamo Reno
    US NAVY SEAL Retired

  7. Auburn, AL sounds like a better stop than Macon, GA. It’s technically on the way to Nashville from Florida, and I’d buy you guys lunch. Come on Shawn, free lunch!

  8. My girlfriend and I are planning a similar adventure starting in September. Keep posting your thoughts so we can steal ideas. Thanks!

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