The Voyage: Roz Savage
Role Models and Roly-Poly Models
20 Jul 2006, Montreal

Above: Jane Fonda, actress, political activist, fitness guru and all-round inspirational role model.

Extracted from an e-mail I wrote today...

"I have to confess to still being slightly mystified by the effect that my blog has had on people - so many people have taken so many different types of inspiration from it (and yes, some people have hated it, with 3 or 4 writing in to tell me so in no uncertain terms) - so it is a great help to get some kind of sensible analysis of what it is that appeals. This is exactly the kind of advice I was looking for.

I don't have time to do full justice to your input at this stage, but I've copied your mail into a document called 'Helpful Advice', which I should be able to sit down and analyse at some point in the next couple of weeks, and will then attempt to define some kind of a strategy, although as you very accurately point out, my general strategy in life seems to be to zigzag around in some kind of Brownian Motion until I stumble onto something that makes sense, usually more by luck than my judgement!

But I reckon that the more zigging and zagging I do, the more likely I am to hit on something - isn't there a theory that a monkey hitting piano keys at random might in ten thousand squillion years accidentally play The Moonlight Sonata? Well, that's me! :-)"

And here is an example of the kind of email that brings a warm glow to my heart (or is that indigestion after my 3rd choc chip cookie?):

"Dear Roz, I am the dyslexic student who contacted you when I was in meltdown in the middle of exams to thank you for your piece in the paper that got me through a bad patch. You emailed me back with good luck which was an enormous lift. I am emailing to let you know my results are in and my degree will be a 2.1 and I have a 1st for my Project. I am over the moon. Thanks for your response and good luck with your projects. I have some of my own in the pipeline so it is good to have inspirational role models."

Frightening to think that anybody might regard me as a role model, when I am so much more aware of my flaws than my virtues.

But when I think of my own role models - e.g. Madonna, Michael Palin, Anita Roddick, Jane Fonda - how much do I actually know about them? Does it actually matter if they're far from perfect human beings? Provided that I can find something in what they are or what they do that inspires me to live my life just a little bit better, it doesn't really matter if in reality they are as human and as fallible as the rest of us.

Other stuff:

The nudity attention-grabbing tactic seems to be attracting a certain amount of support. Shots of naked rowing have been added to my must-get shots lists for the Pacific, although I will have to figure out how to add the 'fuzzy effect' to preserve my modesty before anybody else gets to see the footage. And I will make sure I film it towards the end of the row once the spare tyre has diminished.

I have been seriously struggling to get to grips with the pro-sumer editing software Final Cut Express - a huge step up from friendly old iMovie. But maybe the 'fuzzy effect' project is the incentive I need to conquer the learning curve.

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19 Jul 2006, Shopping Mall, Montreal

[Testing, testing: am trying out some new functionality - uploading video. Appreciate the technology, not the content. Tomorrow I will try to produce something more cinematically satisfying and/or relevant to the blog.]

It's not easy being an aspiring author. Here I am, one manuscript already completed (Three Peaks in Peru) and another underway and nary a book deal in sight.

OK, so I haven't exactly busted a gut putting my proposal out there - have been rather busy rowing oceans and suchlike, but it's faintly discouraging to get comments like these:

"With travel/adventure books that (unless it's Chatwin or Theroux or Bryson or whatever) or someone well-known or famous with an already-existing platform like, say, Ewan McGregor) all too often, and no offence is intended here, the book risks being a longer version of the school-days essay 'What I did on my holidays', and the book is always going
to have to fight against publishers wondering why they should care."

How many people rowed 3000 miles on their holidays, I should like to know?

Or from a freelance journalist...

"Cracknell and Fogle are writing their tome to be published by Atlantic Books on 12th October. According to my agent, the publicity is substantial and we'd have little chance of convincing a 'named' publisher to produce your version because you're not known. Apparently he's tried to flog 3 experience/adventure biogs over the last 4 months and interest has been nil. If you're not well known, it seems, forget it."

But how am I supposed to GET well-known if nobody wants to know? I thought book publishing fell within 'Creative Arts', not 'Bean-Counters Wanting a Dead Cert'. (Bitter? Moi?)

The temptation is to go for infamy and pull some ridiculous stunt to try and get noticed - Erica Roe springs to mind as somebody who gained short-lived notoriety after revealing her considerable assets to a delighted (predominantly male) crowd at Twickenham rugby ground many years ago.

But I've already streaked across an entire ocean and nobody so much as batted an eyelid.

So for now, my loyal readers, I shall have to confine my literary ambitions to this humble blog.

[For those who really need to know, here is a picture of Erica - not for the young or prudish.]

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Mammals of Montreal
16 Jul 2006

Above: a lynx

Last night at a barbeque in Baie d'Urfe, an affluent suburb of Montreal, the festivities were suddenly interrupted by a cry from one of the guests, 'Skunk!' and everybody grabbed hold of their dogs, children, etc., to prevent them chasing after the notoriously smelly critters. They release a pungent pong to deter attackers, and apparently the smell can linger on clothing, skin or fur for up to a month.

Today I went with my friend Toby and his 2-year-old daughter Anna to see some (marginally) less smelly mammals at the Ecomuseum. Coyotes, bears, lynx, wolves, owls, bald eagles, caribou, chipmunks and raccoons.

Toby is an adventure filmmaker, and we've been reviewing my Atlantic footage with a view to making a documentary and/or creating a pilot episode for a series about the Pacific bid. I've been getting some top tips on video editing techniques, and also watching Toby's videos of his adventures in Tibet, Mongolia, the Atlantic and the Sahara. I've learned a lot.

Another thing I've learned - further to last night's events, apparently the best known antidote to skunk stink is to bathe in tomato juice. I don't know who found this out, or how. If you were skunk-ed, would your first instinct be to bathe in Bloody Marys?

Sorry - no photos of skunks. Didn't want to risk contamination. It's hard enough staying vaguely fragrant in 30 degrees and high humidity anyway, without adding skunkiness into the equation.



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14 Jul 2006, Eaton Shopping Mall, Montreal, Quebec

I travel half way round the world, and then spend my days sitting the in food court of a huge shopping mall. How sad is that?!

But I have work to do, and here I have access to free internet and electrical sockets. It's also air-conditioned, and the temperature outside is in the thirties. So for the last 2 days I have sat on my perch at the long bar and tapped away at my keyboard, lining up speaking engagements, making contacts on the West Coast, and catching up on my emails.

I've also at long last become a member of the Skype community, which will be very handy whenever my nomadic lifestyle puts me somewhere with broadband. Mum rang me on my Skype connection yesterday and it was great to chat without worrying about a GDP-sized mobile phone bill.

But speaking of oversized things, the one big disadvantage of spending my days in a food court is that I have unlimited access to food of all the worst kinds. A new Montreal contact rang this morning to suggest he can probably get me on the radio, and maybe even the TV. 'Radio is better,' I said. 'TV adds 7 pounds.'

He also offered to put me in touch with some local Ironman triathletes if I wanted training partners. I nearly choked on my chocolate chip cookie. I'd be struggling to keep up with the Tin Man, let alone an Ironman...

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