Our non-fiction class had a special guest speaker a few weeks back, Teresa Cannon, an accomplished and very successful travel writer.
Teresa is a contributing editor to several Lonely Planet guides, and is co-author of the wonderful Aliya: Stories of the Elephants of Sri Lanka.
I’ve long harboured a desire to become a famous, well-paid travel writer, flitting from one exotic location to another, on a never-ending expense account. Teresa’s presentation certainly put paid to that – I didn’t realise there would be hard work and hardship involved in my dream job!
Seriously, I was inspired by Teresa’s enthusiasm for her work and her ability to make a living out of something she obviously loves.
A few interesting observations:
- Travel writing involves a focus on place and/or movement
- Think about the various dimensions of the place you are writing about – physical/cultural/historical/political
- Also, importantly, what is missing?
- Try to evoke the images/smells/sound/energy of the place you are writing – and remember to bring your imagination
- Think about your audience and the particular needs they may have
- Be alert to the agendas of various people you may speak to in researching your story, and decide how you will deal with these
- Take photos, if only for your own sake. They may rekindle/refresh some memories when it comes time to write
While on the Road:
- Be in work mode*
- Writing takes precedence*
- Don’t miss any opportunities
- Collect literature
- Allocate time for writing
- Try to keep to a general itinerary*
* Things I might find difficult to cope with in my travels…
- Cultural differences
- Fear or strangers or strangeness
- Find your own way to cope with these – they happen to everyone
Hopefully, I’ll be able to apply some of Hazel’s excellent advice when it comes time to write up the Tour de France next month.