Wednesday, October 7, 2009
So how, as travel writers, do we get ourselves into the situation I described in the last post? And is it possible to be a travel writer and avoid this frenzied pace of life? To answer the second question first, I don't think it is possible if you want to make more than a decent living out of this profession. To answer the first, the way we work now is that we go on a trip with a number of commissions up our sleeves, and then while we're on the ground we follow up more leads for stories and pitch new ideas to editors from that destination. But that doesn't mean that other requests for stories stop coming in. As wonderful as they are, most of the time they're not even related to the destination we're in, which of course complicates things. While we're on the road, an editor might email and ask "Where are you at the moment?" which usually means he/she has a hotel they want reviewed or lead they'd like us to pursue. We'd be crazy to say no. At the same time, the longer we stay in a place and the more people we meet, the more story ideas we develop. Although we worked on a dozen stories in Damascus this trip, I left with twice as many ideas that I'd love to pursue next time. Do we prefer working this way, on multiple commissions, to focusing on a guidebook and a story or two? Absolutely. For one, it pays a hell of a lot more for less work. Secondly, we're meeting way more people doing stories than we did on books because we're no longer pounding the pavements all day every day putting dots on maps and checking transport timetables. But more on that another time. One of the downsides to this frantic pace is that it leaves little time for blogging. But blogging doesn't pay the bills. And for now, I kind of like it that way. I'll tell you why another time. Now, I have a story (or three) to write.