Posts by: "Marcia DeSanctis"

I never thought I’d contribute to the vast canon of writers-on-writing essays, but here is one, called ‘There is No Handbook for This’ that I wrote about second-career writers (like me) for The Millions. What I meant to say, and hope it somehow came across is that, every one of us took a different path to get here, and all are singular and legitimate. No matter what our method, and what our level of success, we all spend our day the same way: in imperfect solitude, battling doubt, swatting away the distractions that gallop across our consciousness. A lot of the time, it is anything but pleasant. Always, it is my choice to be doing this.

I am writing because I want to. My work originates in the shadowy recesses of the mind and even in the most parched or fallow times, it is still the land of plenty. There is success, failure and everything in between. But mostly there is the labor, the constant lassoing of thoughts into sentences. It would be difficult if it weren’t actually so simple. Or maybe, it’s the other way around.

Chocolat Toast at Cazenave

Chocolat Toast at Cazenave

I have two new essays on Roads and Kingdoms . One, about a sweet diversion in France. A second, about the barstools of memory in Marrakech.

Champagne, gin, marjoram and memories.

Champagne, gin, marjoram and memories.


I write about this photo – me long ago in Morocco – in my story ‘Time or the Sahara Wind.’ Scroll down, way down: this essay won a Gold Solas Award for travel memoir – my favorite category, in fact. It’s an honor. I’d like to thank…….Travelers’ Tales/Solas House for keeping the travel essay alive, thriving and prospering.

The essay was published in “Tales to Go” and will be included in a book of essays abut Morocco, edited by my friend Erin Byrne.

Candace Rose Rardon. Lavinia Spalding, Lisa Alpine, Don George, and I. Photo @ M. Terry Bowman

Candace Rose Rardon. Lavinia Spalding, Lisa Alpine, Don George, and I. Photo @ M. Terry Bowman

I don’t get to San Francisco enough, but when I go, I always hope to stop by Book Passage in Corte Madera – and even better, to do an event there. My friend, the lovely writer Lisa Alpine, hosts a series and in June 2015, I did a reading with my great friends and colleagues Lavinia Spalding and Candace Rose Rardon. Here is a YouTube video of the event – Thanks Lisa and Book Passage for another fulfilling night of books and stories.


At eighteen, I was aware that such a woman existed.  I had seen pictures, hair loose and swingy or clipped in a hasty chignon.  And the shoes—strappy slides, with a heel.  But I met her in the flesh one July afternoon at her hillside villa in Nice.  She was a Persian beauty in her 40’s named Shirin, and in the summer of 1979 she was my hostess on the Cote d’Azur.

Read the full article >


Very pleased that my essay about the unexpected pleasure of traveling through France alone has won a Lowell Thomas Award for personal comment. I’m in great company: Here is a list of the winners, and here, again, is my story. And this is what the judges said:

Marcia DeSanctis’ strong, first-person narrative captures what one is supposed to feel for France: recognition of its unquestioned cultural and culinary preeminence. Yet, because she inverts the expectations of the accompanied traveler, she introduces us to a flawed, humane and solitary France. The accompanied traveler carries the awareness of another; the solo traveler converses only with memories. DeSanctis captures the joy of not sharing canelés (traditional pastries of Bordeaux) and the freedom to live extemporaneously. “I was travelling alone,” she writes with a spark of recognition “but not a single thing was missing.”