At some point in my life I will settle down. Part of me is looking forward to the shackles of domestic life, to the community and the routine. Over the past few years I’ve found that moving all over the place does not make for better writing. Indeed, to do your best creative work in any field, the best thing you can do is stay still.
But where to do that?
The following are the top 5 places I’d settle down for the next 10 years if someone had a gun to my head and was saying “Mark, stay here for 10 years or I’ll pull this trigger.”
(in no particular order)
- Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia
The Kamchatka Peninsula has long fascinated me. There are bears, snow and waves. And Russian. I desperately want to learn Russian. I feel like I won’t be complete until I do.
2) Isle Madame, Nova Scotia, Canada
This one is a bit random, but I chose it because it’s a French-speaking enclave in an otherwise English-speaking Nova Scotia and also because there’s surf. And because it would be a good place to lead the quiet life, cultivating vegetables and having tea and doing the other things one does when he stops traveling.
3) Chiloe, Chile
This one is a lack of brainer. The Island of Chiloe, in southern Chile, has a climate almost exactly like that of Washington State. And, as with all of the places on this list, there’s good surf.
4) Sardinia, Italy
If I’m going to be forced anchor my rear end on one desolate stretch of this interstellar rock for 10 straight years, I want to come out of it speaking a different language. Sardinia would be perfect for that, as I’m sure there’s little English and the Sardinian dialect of Italian is charming. Despite being in the Mediterrean, Sardinia also has remarkably consistent and (sometimes) powerful waves. Don’t they also have a delicacy there where they bury pigs? Or is that Hawaii? Hawaii would be nice, too….
5)Bainbridge Island, WA
The strangest place on this list. Why would I force myself to stay somewhere I always seem to be fleeing? In short, because Bainbridge is beautiful and I love it. I was raised there. My family’s there. And when I walk down to Eagle Harbor and sit on the shore and contemplate the ferries coming and going, Mt. Rainier in the distance, the saltwater in my nostrils, I feel whole.
I’ve also done some of my best writing on Bainbridge, because when I’m there there’s nothing else to do. And the island has a rich literary tradition: David Guterson wrote Snow Falling on Cedars there and Patrick DeWitt Ablutions, by far his best effort. With any luck, this list will continue to grow.
As of now, no one is holding a gun to my head telling me to settle down. But she might, soon. I have to meet her first. Or I have to get to a place where, regardless of what else is going on in my life, I want to settle down. It’ll happen eventually. And then I’ll have my long-coveted routine. And I’ll finally learn Russian.