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Friday, November 21, 2008

Life of a Travel Writer: when the travel writer needs to get 'away' from it all

My life as a travel writer is one I've come to treasure. So when people tell me I've got the ultimate dream job, I normally agree. However, it's been a tough few months, which explains the lack of blog posts. So tough there have been moments when my commitment to the writing career Terry and I have worked so hard to establish has well and truly wavered. So tough there have been times when I've questioned the very meaning of this travelling life. So tough that there have been more than a few periods when I've thought of abandoning everything and getting 'away' from it all. But when the world is our office, where do we get 'away' to? The fact that we didn't have much of a life at all for a few months was a major factor. Our time was spent chained to our desks writing from early morning to late at night seven days a week from August through October. We'd forgotten what it was like to do 'normal' things, to laze around and flick through a magazine, to watch a program on TV, to read a chapter of a book before bed, to go out for drinks with friends. I've been so busy I've missed birthdays; I worked until 2am on my own to meet deadlines. I've neglected family and friends whom I'm geographically close to for the first time in years (we're currently in Australia) and I'm consumed by guilt for not spending enough time with my mum who has gone through a couple of tough years herself following a road accident that left her without an eye and with an array of injuries. All this would be enough to make most people question the life they're leading. But add to that endless technological problems from excruciatingly slow and intermittent internet access and continuous inexplicable email problems (yes, I'm talking about you mac.com!) to couriers who deliver important documents to the wrong address and postal systems where send things astray. Trivial by comparison? Not when these communications systems are your main means of dealing with clients around the world. Add to that editors with their own communication and technology problems, editors with ongoing demands that far outweigh the fee they're paying, and editors who simply shouldn't be editors. But every job has its challenges, not all bosses are understanding, and nor are all colleagues easy to get along with. When the world's your office there's bound to be a glitch or two. Or three. And whose going to listen to a travel writer complain, right? Well, we're 'away' from it all now, so I hope to resume regular blogging soon and catch you up on the action-packed adventures we've been having.

18 comments:

Nomadic Matt said...

it's been ages since ur last update Lara...lets get back into it!

Karen said...

Lara,it is so easy for work as a travel freelancer to take over your life. You love what you do and you want to produce quality travel content. If you're not focused and dedicated you probably won't be successful in your field.

However you have to try to stand back and decide what are your priorities, how do you measure your own success in life? Is it income, being held in high regard, being regarded as an expert in your field, close relationships with family and friends. I do believe it's really hard to strike a balance.

Heatheronhertravels said...

Looking forward to hearing what you've been up to

Erica said...

I think everyone at some point more or less question the meaning of what they're doing. From the outside, being a travel writer seems like such a dream job but as we all know everything isn't always as it seems. People who buy glossies and guidebooks only see the finished result, they often don't realize how much work that lies behind.

Vicky Baker said...

Sounds like a tough few months. Look forward to hearing more updates now things are on the up again.

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Fly Girl said...

I've missed your posts Lara. I'm so sorry that it has been a rough time for you. For what it's worth, these have been trying times in the industry all around. I have had three editors get laid off and many magazines that I write for cut their pages and staff. I think it just means that we have to rethink the kinds of assignments that we accept and open ourselves to new options. I'm sure that 2009 will bring a fresh perspective on all of this.

Scott Mc said...

Hi Lara, yes, I'm another fan who's been missing your posts recently. Stay sane and remember - it's just a lousy stinking travel guide. Nobody's gonna die if you accidentally put the hotel on the wrong side of the street. Or mix up the opening hours of a street food cart. Or tell your editors to get real jobs.

Angela K. Nickerson said...

Busy is good, but too busy can be torture. I know that all too well. I hope you have come up for air now. We can't wait to hear what you've been up to!

Lara Dunston said...

Thanks everyone for your thoughtful words and sage advice - I'm glad you can relate. I've definitely learned a lot from these past months - especially to do with how I want to work, and who I want to work with. I think I've finally learned how to say no too! Karen is right - to be really successful in this business, it's next to impossible to strike a balance - but I'm going to try from hereon! Thanks for sticking with me. :)

Melanie said...

For heaven's sake, woman, give yourself permission to visit with your mum, lie down, read a magazine, take a bath...if only for a few hours. Sure, you may fall asleep, but we'll all still be here when you wake up. Even, I'd wager, your hungry editors.

The concept of "frazzled travel writer" not only ruins the dream for us all, it robs you of of a more mundane adventure -- your own life :).

julie said...

Lara- It was so nice to see your new post appear in my inbox today! I can empathize with all of the challenges you describe here, and I appreciate, as always, your authenticity and candor. Here's to hoping that the rest of the year offers you some moments of calm-- and connectivity! :)

Jessie V said...

lara, i've missed your cogent columns. as a person who is stuck right now (although by a lake, so i am pretty happy) because of my disabilities, you've given me a window to the world. that said, another thing i've learned is that we have to take care of our SELVES first. please, take care of your self.

Lola said...

Welcome back Lara!. I definitely understand. Its easy to get stuck into things and situations that seem so important, but when you step back, don't seem such high priority. Family & Self first, then work.

meesposito said...

I understand your situation completely. I have gone through a rough two months myself and have just come out of it, thank goodness. In a book called "The Balanced Life," the author recommends striving for a middle ground between boredom and stress, which is often not easy to do.

I hope that your situation returns to normal soon.

Sandwagon said...

Hi Lara
First timer to your blog here!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the challenging of travel writing with us. You're so right. It is the dream job but the demands don't stop because you can work from the beach or from your favourite city. They actually increase.

I empathise completely with you. Missing normality and the family and friends you cherish really does play on my mind a lot. Writing needs so much time, energy, focus and commitment. I have guilt pangs when I close my laptop.

It doesn't help that your mind is rarely ever off the job.

Can't wait to hear how it's going...

Bohemian Bookworm said...

I just scrolled down to this story. I'm sorry things have been rough for you. I know you enjoy your work and are working with your husband, which so many people would want to do.

I enjoy your blog and I will keep checking back, take care of yourself and your family!

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Will i guess what do you need is a really vacation. No picture taking, no long travels to reach the site you want to write, no computers or typewriter, just plain vacation.
Cheers,
Odicy,
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