The Dream of Travel Writing (vs. The Reality)
I’ve always thought it would be crazy awesome if I were a travel writer. I love traveling and I love writing, so getting paid to travel around the world and write about it would be the ultimate dream job, right?
I’ve realized, though, that it’s not quite as simple as that.
Traveling can be stressful. It involves planning routes, catching trains, finding ways to make the most out of each place. It involves packing and repacking, trying to travel light while making sure you have something appropriate for every situation. Sometimes it involves holding your bladder if you can’t find a bathroom or holding your breath if someone in your train compartment has had too much garlic for lunch (like right this very moment, dammit).*
Then there’s the writing. It goes without saying that your stories should be interesting. People should want to read what you’ve written, and that’s the really hard part. After a while, you run out of adjectives to describe a scene. You try to write enthusiastically about some amazing thing you’ve seen but that’s difficult to do if you’re tired or hungry or in a hurry. Later you try to summon back your first thoughts and feelings about a particular place, but sometimes there’s just a limited window of time when you can translate your experience into words powerful enough to transport your reader to where you were.
Add the pressure of a deadline to all that, and…well, it’s still a crazy awesome job, but you begin to realize it is a job and not just crazy awesomeness.
So: whereas before I used to say I dream of traveling and writing for a living, I’d like to edit that and say instead: I would love to travel and write for a living — I would do that in a heartbeat — but my ultimate dream is to someday have enough money to travel where I want, when I want, with the people I love, and write about it just because I want to.
*The nucleus of this post was written 3 years ago on a train from Nice to Marseille. I like garlicky stuff myself, but there’s garlic and then there’s too much garlic! 🙂 I survived, by the way.