Travel writing….a bizarre type of work that has a very stark difference between what other people think it is, and what it actually is.
Before I began travel writing, or even really travelling, I thought it was the most romantic job in the world.
After all, what could be better than travelling through dusty towns, eating street food and writing about the people you pass and the lands you traverse?
Of course, that’s really the travelling part. It’s the writing part and, increasingly, the photography part, that’s the actual work.
Writers needing to be photographers
Writing for me takes place after. Sometimes quite a long time after. You don’t get much looking, tasting and adventuring done if you’re constantly tapping away at your laptop.
And while writing about travel can easily be done after the fact, photography absolutely cannot. Now that magazines don’t have the money to send a photograph along with you, it’s frequently up to the writer to take the photographs. And yes, most travel writers probably do have an SLR handy. But photography is a lot more than a nice camera.
Even if you do happen to have a great camera and take some great photographs, you’ve only got the core materials of your piece. Photography and writing is the easy part.
As it turns out, I wasn’t the only person to think travel writing sounded like a nice job. Everybody else did too.
Pitching, waiting, pitching, waiting
90% of the time I spend on a piece will probably be researching outlets, pitching, waiting, re-pitching and then corresponding with editors and reading lengthy style guidelines. And that’s not including the time spent tracking down the right editor’s name and making sure they’re not on maternity leave or sabbatical.
So when I manage to forge a new relationship with a travel editor and, shock horror, actually get something published, it makes for a delirious day.
Here are my latest two pieces (plus next month will be a new Yachting Monthly article published in the magazine):
Matador Network: 10 Photos That Will Make You Want To Live On A Sailboat