≡ Menu

When Climbing Mountains Don’t Look At The Peak

The process.

Support VBJ’s writing on this blog:

I have to write this disclaimer because many people don’t seem to understand what this is. This is a blog, a form of writing that shows the day to day process of working through … life. It is not a final summation of anything, it is just a record of what is going on and what is felt in the moment, and is liable to change the next time the sun rises. It is also unedited, unproofread — it is just written. 

RHODES, Greece- I forgot this advice. I’ve been looking upwards thinking of being at the top the entire time. When am I going to be there … when am I going to be there … rather than keeping my head down and taking one step at a time.

3/22/2018- Today sucked. I don’t know what I’m doing in a place that’s so beautiful. I have no business being here. It’s Friday night and we leave here on Wednesday. I wouldn’t say that I wasted my time here but I came close.

All I want to do is go out and film, talk to people, make a short doc about this leather worker that I met, but I’m stuck inside all day typing. I’m charged with the task of both making all the money for my family and continuing my career as an author along with trying to do something with filming. No, none of the above overlap.

My second book is long overdue. Every time I open it up to work on it I wish that it was the only thing I had to do — I wish that I could go deep inside of it and stay there until it’s done. But I can’t. Instead I need to write articles all day long to make enough money for everyone to eat and travel.

I don’t mind this work — in fact, I love it — but there is just too much of it and now I find myself doing multiple full-time jobs.

During my first book my wife worked. She made more than enough money to cover everything on her own and was still able to save over $10,000 per year. My income on top of this was nice, but it wasn’t depended on. This gave me the space to be able to work on more long-term projects. I haven’t had this luxury throughout the Silk Road book, and I didn’t know how much I depended on it — how much it really enabled me to be able to do that project. I didn’t value it enough and I certainly didn’t appreciate it.

My wife didn’t want me to do the Silk Road book. In fact, she told me not to do it. But I did it anyway. As is usually the case, I’ve made my own bed here.

It sucks, but this will be over soon. The book is on the way to being finished — a one year project extended out over three years.

I thought that I was going to be able to zip down a few China-Europe trade corridors, look around a little, talk to some people, and chunk out a book in one year’s time.

Then I decided to do a good book.

So I went back and traveled almost everywhere for a second time … and some places, for a third, fourth, fifth time… Trajectories are made up of waypoints, and I needed multiple points to gauge where things were going.

This was a good lesson. My next book I’m going to make sure that I have nothing else to do.

3/25/2018- It would probably be a good idea to ignore much of what I wrote above. It’s the end of the month — the time when my quota of articles needs to be filled, when my deadlines are usually set. The first two weeks of the month I travel around, film, talk with people, and have a healthy fun / work balance. But then I find myself running into the final week not-done-enough. So I have to sit at the desk inside the room and get it done. At the end of each month I tell myself that next month will be different. But it never is.

I’m just complaining.

The first book is easy. For the entire thing you’re not thinking of it being finished and published because you have very strong doubts that it will happen. I was as surprised as anyone when the manuscript was accepted. So I didn’t really care too much about what I was doing. I just wrote, and “good” and “bad” were words that didn’t mean too much to me. I was just telling a story, and that was the end of it. I was focused on the process, not the result. I was climbing the mountain without any idea of what it looked like from the top.

The second book is tougher because you know that you can do it, you know what the final product is, and you expect to get there. You’ve climbed the mountain before so you keep thinking about the view rather than the steps that you need to take to get there.


The only way I can continue my travels and publishing this blog is by generous contributions from readers. If you can, please subscribe for just $5 per month:


If you like what you just read, please sign up for our newsletter!
* indicates required
Filed under: Greece, Journalism, Travel Diary, Travel Philosophy, Work

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 3717 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

Support VBJ’s writing on this blog:

VBJ is currently in: New York City

0 comments… add one

Leave a Comment