Is Writing Anything Like Going to the North Pole, and Is Going to the North Pole Anything Like Writing?

This past Spring, my friend John Huston and his friend Tyler Fish skied unsupported to the North Pole, becoming the first Americans to do so. While I was Chicago a couple weeks ago I had a short conversation with John about what I saw, from following the daily audio blog of their expedition, as the similarities between writing novels and going to the North Pole. Briefly, John and I agreed that essentially, our two pursuits are essentially remarkably different expressions and enactments of remarkably similar human drives: to discover and know something about the world, and about what it means to be a human being in the world. Furthermore, both undertakings share a similarity in that the final “product”, so to speak–the actual novel and the actual journey–is essentially the small–albeit extremely difficult–final part of a very long and very careful process of thought, research, planning, and so on. While following the expedition (and, indeed, while talking to John about it a couple years ago when it was in its earliest stages, an idea rather than a plan) I became more and more excited about these similarities, and the potential meaning of them. Below are two links to interviews with John and Tyler, respectively. Note that although most of the terms and content are different, they way that each explorer speaks about his work is very similar to the way in which many writers talk about their work. What do you think?

Interview with John Huston:

Interview with Tyler Fish:



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One response to “Is Writing Anything Like Going to the North Pole, and Is Going to the North Pole Anything Like Writing?

  1. Sarai

    I’ve just visited the D-Day beaches in Normandy. It’s tempting to turn that into a metaphor for trying to finish a novel…but your North Pole story is more uplifting, so let’s go with that.

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