International Rally, Day Three
It is an inevitable part of living full-time in a trailer that you have to stop and work. It's not all fun and games. I've actually been working in every spare moment I can find (an hour here, an hour there), but Thursday I stopped all the running around and spent most of the day in the trailer working on the Fall issue of the magazine.
There are worse things ... I like the work and it was very pleasant sitting in an air-conditioned space on another hot and humid summer day, Plus, everyone was off doing other things (the kid program involved a bus ride down to Branson for a day at a water park), so I was basically left alone to concentrate.
Working on the road is a huge subject which I've touched on only a few times. But at an International Rally, you will meet people who do it. Most are wandering freelancers: writers, photographers, painters, artists of all description, even traveling nurses and teachers. A few have more traditional jobs that they've managed to adapt to life on the road, such as me (a publisher and consultant). As a result, I often have conversations with people about how it is done, and the issues we all face: good Internet connectivity, setting up efficient workspaces in a trailer, finding the right equipment, wireless phones, etc.
The bottom line is it can be done and the biggest barrier is psychological. The technology is there. The precedent is there. But it's also a matter of who you are as an individual. Some people need the company of others when they work and don't do well in a self-disciplined environment. Some people can't concentrate when there are many distractions around. You've got to be a self-starter and able to adapt -- actually, you need to thrive on the change and be inspired to work when you're in a new environment. Some people can, some can't.
I've adapted the layout of Vintage Thunder to be a good working environment as much as I can. I have four workspaces inside the trailer: kitchen counter, bedroom alcove, mid-couch, and front dinette. With my laptop I can readily move from space to space as events warrant. Dividers in the trailer provide a visual barrier to help focus the spaces, and in a pinch I can move outside and work under the awning too. Fans help dampen audio distractions from others (conversations, movies playing). The laser printer runs off a wireless (Mac Airport Express) network so I can print from anywhere, and the Internet is distributed wirelessly as well.
I've also culled my files to a bare minimum, so that the paper I haul around fits entirely into one small plastic storage tub. Paper is the enemy when you work in a trailer. As much as possible is electronic: faxes, files, images, maps, even postage. There are good tools to make all this possible, and most of them are cheap.
Among other things, I've begun planning our route back East. We don't have to return until July 17, but we already have a full schedule for the return trip. We'll have stops in Kentucky, Boston, the Adirondacks, and a few other spots as well. More on that later. If you've got any suggestions along I-64, let me know.