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Rolf Potts
Author of Vagabonding and three other travel books. Paris Writing Workshop director, erstwhile Yale lecturer. Deviate Podcast host. Itinerant Kansan.
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Rolf Potts Oct 19
Nostalgia reminds us that the present moment, which is all we really ever have, is as sacred as all the moments that led up to it. The past isn’t fully consigned to the past, since the present is in dialogue with the past in ways we aren’t fully aware of.
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This Week in Podcasts Oct 18
In the latest : — interviews Curtis Flowers — and on ‘90s music — on ‘90s music too — on nostalgia + debuts from /, , + 12 others
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Rolf Potts Oct 7
In your (great) episode about Noah Baumbach's "Kicking & Screaming," and speculate about who was almost cast as Grover. According to Baumbach's now-obsolete 2002-era Q&A website, it was Josh Charles. Details here:
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Rolf Potts Sep 25
"Travel is an essential industry, an essential activity. It’s not essential the way hospitals and grocery stores are essential. It's essential the way books and hugs are essential. Right now we're savoring where we’ve been, anticipating where we’ll go." 
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Rolf Potts Sep 25
"Almost every successful essay I’ve written is partially successful because it ended up being about something very different than what I thought it was going to be about when I started writing it."
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Rolf Potts Sep 25
"The future is uncertain for travel writing, but I wouldn’t want to put anyone off, as it’s a rewarding career. Developing a niche is key. Become an expert on something obscure that you truly love."
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Rolf Potts Sep 24
'We might think life and death are strictly sequential: we live, then we die. The truth, says Montaigne, is that 'death mingles and fuses with our lives throughout.' We don't die because we're sick. We die because we're alive." 
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Rolf Potts Sep 24
“There is this arrogant assumption that the things we don’t know or understand must be bad, because if they were good, we would already know about them or understand them.” –Derek Sandhaus
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Rolf Potts Sep 24
On the podcast, and I discussed what it means to be a "bad traveler," the challenge of writing about sensitive cultural topics, sex and relationships abroad, and the ethical quandary of giving a Power Bar to a person with leprosy in India.
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Rolf Potts Sep 23
Replying to @rolfpotts
4) The best writing goes into directions that surprise the writer. 5) Complex writing often moves from orientation to disorientation. 6) Good essays don’t necessarily provide answers.
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Rolf Potts Sep 23
6 thoughts on "essaying" your way into an understanding: 1) An essay begins with a question, not a statement. 2) Good essays explore questions in the manner of an unmapped quest. 3) Essaying is a process is of finding out what you don’t want to know.
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Rolf Potts Sep 23
"It was never that weird for us, because we were blessed to grow up around each other, and not really figure out the racial algebra of our youth until we were much older and we heard race discussed in abstract ways." 
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Rolf Potts Sep 22
"I keep receipts and tickets, I photograph menus and street names, so I can recreate my journey with as much precision as possible. When I set off on my trips I worry that I won’t collect enough stories, but when I sit down to write it's rarely a problem."
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Rolf Potts Sep 22
"An essay is something you write to try to figure something out. Figure out what? You don’t know yet. In a real essay, you don’t take a position and defend it. You notice a door that’s ajar, and you open it and walk in to see what’s inside."
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Rolf Potts Sep 22
Replying to @rolfpotts
...and, lastly: 20) Make the lessons last a lifetime Full presentation/discussion of all 20 lessons in this week's podcast.
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Rolf Potts Sep 22
Replying to @rolfpotts
12) Meet people 13) Report back on the human world 14) Try something different 15) Actively learn new skills 16) Dare to be lonely, lost, and bored 17) Remember the ethical dynamic of travel 18) Develop a notion of home 19) Success is a matter of doing it long enough
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Rolf Potts Sep 22
Replying to @rolfpotts
3) If in doubt, ask for help 4) If in doubt say yes 5) There is always more to learn 6) Don’t postpone things 7) Be an expat at some point in your travel career 8) Take it slow 9) It’s OK to make mistakes 10) Don’t set limits 11) Walk until your day becomes interesting
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Rolf Potts Sep 22
This week on the podcast: "20 lessons learned from 20 years as a travel writer", as presented at a couple years ago. Lessons include: 1) Relationships count more than platforms 2) Distinctive content counts more than self-promotion
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Derek Sandhaus Sep 22
I'm a little late in sharing this, but I had a wonderful conversation with travel writer about Chinese drinking culture. I recommend it to anyone with even the remotest interest in the topic:
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Rolf Potts Sep 21
"Travel is one of the few activities we engage in not knowing the outcome. It demands a leap of faith to leave for some faraway land, hoping for a taste of the ineffable. Nothing is more forgettable than the trip that goes exactly as planned."
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