After an inspiring and life-changing road trip, Tyler Hadyniak wrote There and Back Again: America Through the Eyes of a Traveling Veterans’ Disability Attorney.
Keep reading to find out more about Tyler and how he came to this point in his career.
Tell me about your journey to becoming a writer.
Though I didn’t know it at the time, my journey to becoming a writer began in February 2019, when I started during family ancestry research. I was enthralled and moved by the things I learned. In the short-term it developed into an obsession, and in the long term a fun hobby. I frequently lamented to anyone who listened how unfortunate it was that key parts of our relatives’ lives went unrecorded and lost to eternity. Soon, that realization and the thrill of research transformed into a drive to be my and my family’s own historian. Therefore, I knew I had to record my travels, even if only for my own recollection. I knew I would love to read about the places I went and the people I met, even if fifty years down the road. I was satisfied by the thought that if anything, my journal would be printed out, stashed in the attic somewhere, and enjoyed by my great-great-grandchildren. Gradually I figured that others might be interested in the stories I had to tell. A call with my grandfather — in which he encouraged me to seek out publishers for my journal — started the path that led to the book being published in December 2020. I started in July 2020. After a few months of the COVID pandemic, I turned my cabin fever and nostalgia for the road into something useful by editing and revising the journal for publication. At first I thought it was vain of me to think that others would want to read about my travels, but I realized that was a decision the readers needed to make for themselves.
What was the main inspiration behind your book?
Besides what I describe above, my primary inspiration for keeping a journal was meeting an elderly veteran named Ed, in the parking lot of the Montgormery, Alabama VA Regional Office, during my first trip down there in July 2019. His story struck me as poignant, and one I did not want to forget. Ed was only the proximate cause however. I realized right when I started traveling in early June 2019 that I would have an unique story to tell due to all the people I would meet and the far-reaching places I would travel. Plus, I realized my drive to explore would open up “extra-curricular” opportunities for me which I would want to record for posterity.
What kind of research did you have to do for it?
None, as this book revolves around my recollections. If anything, my “research” was spending much time in front of Google Maps laboriously pre-mapping the trips I describe in my book!
What was your writing routine?
I would usually write my journal entries contemporaneously with my travel, so the memory of an event or interaction was vividly accessible. Therefore, I took the opportunity to write on my plane rides, more often than not on the late night flights home to Portland. If an interaction really struck me and I was afraid I would forget its poignancy, I would jot down notes in my legal pad or on my phone, to make sure I remembered salient details for when I wrote the journal entry. However, I took opportunities wherever I was to make sure I did not forget memorable details. Watchful fellow airport passengers in Atlanta, Detroit, and all over would frequently find me posted up at a standing table somewhere in the airport, clacking away on my keyboard in an effort to regurgitate the memorable experiences I had during the trip from which I was returning home.
Describe your book in one sentence.
This is a memoir about not only the vastness of America the “place,” but the vastness of America the “idea,” and the array of people who live in it. I would say this multifaceted “vastness” is a recurring theme in the book
Tell us about the best writing advice you’ve ever received.
Two pieces of advice come to mind: (1) from my grandfather: “write as if no one will ever read this journal;” and (2) show me, don’t tell me.
Tell us something about you that your fans may not know or something that you want to share.
I have been so humbled by the response I have so far received. Family, friends, and strangers have told me how they feel like they are there with me on my travels. Thank you for the positive reception, and remember that buying a copy also helps the Disabled American Veterans charity fund.
Why should people read your book?
I think people should read this book because it will open their eyes to the vastness that is our country — culturally, geographically, and otherwise. I hope readers will appreciate the small speck they fill in this vastness, and learn to appreciate where they come from and who they are.