Readers of this blog increasingly ask: Can you tell us more about your book?
Most of you know I’m writing a travel memoir about my solo journey through French-speaking Africa. It’s based on my travel blog, Inkslinging in Africa.
I’m recounting my backpacking adventure, which took me overland through West Africa — across Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana — then to Cameroon and Madagascar. Traveling alone as a woman in these countries was empowering, humorous and, at times, scary.
Part I: West Africa. A three-day boat ride up the Niger to Timbuktu, an inspiring AIDS-infected teenager in Burkina Faso, a drug deal in Ghana. Seeking independence through adventure, I end up connecting with new friends.
Part III: Madagascar. Watching the world watch my country elect a historic president, then finding myself vulnerable in a dangerous bus station at night, and finally feeling high on travel, I learn that I can do whatever I want on my own. And that even traveling solo, I’m never really alone.
What my book is not: My beef with most women’s travel narratives is that the author usually finds love at the end. Sure, this makes for a romantic, feel-good ending, but it also reinforces the illusion that the only way to reach gold at the end of the rainbow is through a relationship. I adored Eat, Pray, Love until the woman who claimed for 300 pages that she was looking to discover herself finally feels fulfilled in part because she finds a man.
I’m out to fill what I see as a gaping hole in modern stories about women’s solo travel: the tale of true self-exploration. I did my share of flirting with men in Africa, but I didn’t need — or want — one professing his love to me to feel complete. (Although, ironically, I often fended off would-be suitors by telling them I was married.) Instead, my book is about seeing this beautiful yet poverty-stricken continent through my own eyes, learning to depend on myself as I push my limits and eventually, coming to love traveling avec moi.
Coming soon: At your request, I’ll post a few short excerpts from my work-in-progress. The trick is offering enough of a tease without giving too much away!