Kerouacian intent

Kerouacian intent

Published on January 12 2016

I once read the phrase ‘Kerouacian intent’ and it lodged itself in my head as the go-to adjective for labeling hare-brained adventure plans. 

“About 25 years ago, I took a bicycle across the United States. I soon found out that the greatest item of clothing was the trusty bandanna. There were dozens of uses for a bandanna – as a pot holder, a chain cleaner, a sun shield, a headband, a snot rag, a declaration of Kerouacian intent

While cycling recently, all I could think about were all the times people asked what career I wanted to assign my life to and I flippantly answered ‘Bill Bryson’.

I always wondered whether it was a legitimate response.

It’s far from a ‘real job’ but there’s a definite attraction to his lifestyle of travelling, writing about it, and earning money from the writing to allow him to repeat the process seemingly ad infinitum (or at least for most of his adult life: he’s still going strong at 64).

With a few years under my belt I now realise I’d rather carve out my own style than imitate Bill; my answer now probably wouldn’t be as punchy. Bill Bryson mixed with a bunch of others – Dervla Murphy, Ted Simon, Alistair Humphreys, Mark Beaumont, any of a million other people who decide to see the world, experience it, and write about it to try and inspire other people to do the same.

I realise while writing this that I’m standing at the feet of giants, and waxing lyrical isn’t enough to get me any closer to their shins (let alone shoulders).

Currently though, I’m in a position to make something involving travel and writing happen. 

And while the phrase is evocative, an adventure of Kerouacian proportions – characterised by stream of consciousness reports of recklessly enthusiastic experimentation with drugs – doesn’t appeal. Perhaps Brysonian intent would be more fitting?



Or maybe even Jovian, after Simon’s account of his 78,000 mile, 4 year motorbike odyssey.

Whichever adjective sticks, this is my statement of its intent.