≡ Menu

Leaving My Maine Workshop

I like it in there.

Support VBJ’s writing on this blog:

SOMEWHERE between Bangor and Rochester- I like my time in Maine. I have access to a large room there that I converted into a workshop. There are three tall windows which nicely light the space. The house itself was built during the Maine lumber boom, so the shelves and floor and window sills and trimmings are made of nice old wood. The place is well-worn but overtly non-toxic, lacking any semblance of chemical laden particle board and simulated wood. I have a long folding table along one wall of my workshop and a medium size square table across from it. I have each set up as different stations: my computer and camera is equipment is on one and stacks of books and notebooks on the other. I jump between the two throughout the day. Sometimes I sit back and say, “Man, this is perfect.”

There are two phases of my work: content capture and content processing. The first phase is all travel, where I move around, meet people, party, and collect stories (i.e. cultivate the weird). The second phase is all sedentary isolation, where I sit in a room alone and just write and edit and publish. One phase is irrelevant without the other: there is no reason to travel and collect content if I never have the opportunity to process and publish it, and just sitting in a room alone at my laptop isn’t going to provide me with anything to write or make films about.

Each of these two phase stands in polar opposition to the other not only in lifestyle but in who I am. I feel like a completely different person for each, flipping back and forth from being open, loquacious, and fun to being a somewhat irritable hermit.

Bangor is the perfect place for the second phase of my work for two reasons: 1) My in-laws live upstairs. They help out with my kids and are, in pretty much every way, incredible people. 2) I have no interest in anything outside of the Gumby green walls of their home. Nobody stops in to visit me. I don’t really have any friends. Nobody interrupts me or really demands anything of me. It’s like I’m some variant of useless … or otherwise invisible.

Sometimes I don’t go outside for five or six days in a row. Everywhere else in the world I feel the need to explore — to go outside and find out what’s going on, to meet people, to collect stories, to learn something. I feel guilty if I spend too much time inside working. I don’t feel this way in Bangor. I can just go inside my workshop and suspend myself in my work as though nothing else exists. The day of the week is irrelevant; the time of day is irrelevant’ sometimes I’m still working at three in the morning; sometimes I’m waking up at 4:30 am. My only interaction with the outside world is when I make my weekly trip to eat half price chicken wings at Buffalo Wild Wings. Other than that, I’m locked up in the temporal / sensory / social deprivation chamber of my own making.

But if I stay in too long I know I will lose touch with reality.

It was time to go. I packed up my workshop, packed up my kids, got in our car, and went on to start the other phase of my work … elsewhere.

Filed under: Journalism, Maine, Travel Strategy

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3706 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

Support VBJ’s writing on this blog:

VBJ is currently in: New York City

2 comments… add one

Leave a Comment

  • Rob September 21, 2018, 6:13 pm

    Maine is a nice place, I’m 24 miles (as the crow flies) from Bangor, have been here since July. I like it! We’re visiting a friend & just getting a feel for the place/area. The Maine people are good folks!!

    Having a “good” work shop is one of those things that can’t be beat… like having “good” in-laws!

    Safe travels….

    Link Reply
    • Wade Shepard September 21, 2018, 6:16 pm

      Excellent. Thank you. Enjoy the rest of summer there then get out while you still can!

      Link Reply