Josh Krigman is a creative writing teacher at Hunter College, where he received his MFA in fiction. He is also the co-founder of Club Motte, an international storytelling collective that hosts events in New York, San Francisco, and Berlin.
We are doing a series called ‘100 Ways to Travel’, where we learn from people who have combined their passion with travel. For instance, a musician who performs gigs at theatres around the world, an athlete who climbs mountains in various continents, or a singer who performs live on cruises. Please tell us a little bit about what gave you the idea and avenues to combine travel with writing?
The nice thing about writing is it’s free and you can do it anywhere. And when you’re traveling, there’s a lot of hours between activities where you don’t have the normal comforts of home (TV, WiFi, your friends), so instead of all those distractions you find yourself with a lot of time to write. That, plus all the new and worthy-of-writing-about things you’re experiencing while your traveling, makes the two a pretty natural pair.
Why do you like to travel? How do you think it’s different when you pursue writing along with travel, compared to visiting a place as a tourist?
I think if you’re a writer, or a visual artist, or any type of creative, traveling offers a chance to be inspired by something new. I guess traveling offers that to everyone, but if you’re a writer it’s especially easy to stay inside and get stuck in your own routine, and traveling introduces you back to the world.
One of things I noticed on your profile is Club Motte, an international story-telling night that hosts live events around the world. What sparked you to co-found it? International stories, of all genres, are fascinating to me – I personally started a blog called ‘The Calabash Kid’ after my trip to Tanzania, which is actually a folk tale from that area. Is there a folk tale, legend, or story that fascinated you during one of your trips?
I started Club Motte when I was living in Berlin. There weren’t many English-speaking events in Berlin at the time, and I missed the story-telling community in New York (The Moth, and others), so I started one! Sometimes it’s that simple.
As for folk tales and legends, I can’t think of anything off the top of my head. But over the course of traveling I’ve heard so many stories from so many people. What continues to excite me is how eager everyone is to share once you give them the right space, no matter how otherwise shy they might be.
Do you have any advice for young travelers?
Bury your phone deep in your backpack and only use it when you need to. Sometimes getting lost is a good thing, and most of the photos you’re taking aren’t nearly as important as getting an up-close look at the world with your own face. Also wash your hands and drink a lot of water.