My notebook filled with journal entries of the Bengal trip sits before me. When I left, I decided to bring back a few travel stories with me. You see, I have always dreamt of being a travel writer—that free-spirited entity which gets to traverse unseen lands and hears unknown languages and eventually gets paid for that. What little travel writing I have read always left me enchanted—not just with the places and peoples they introduced, but with the writer, whose deft touch magically brought those places and people to life.
Magicians those writers must be, for it isn’t easy to recapture your journey in a way that makes it compelling for others. I realize this as I open the journal and try to spin some tales out of it. My voyage remains interesting to me for sure, but what will make it as appealing to readers? In my quest to find the answer to that question, I did some online research. This included looking at the kind of writing travel markets seek to publish. The guidelines were as varied as the writing styles of noted travel writers. Where some wanted a passionate first-hand account of one’s journey, others strictly prohibited the use of first person. Yet others simply wanted travel brochure type information—how/when to go, what to see, what to buy etc.
Me, I personally enjoy reading first person travel accounts. Of course the best of writings don’t highlight the writer as the main character, but rather as a mirror, which reflects a particular geographical setting with a signature hue or tint that is the author’s perspective. Such narratives pull you into the writer’s original experience, since it’s the one thing that would remain unique, even while the place continues to be generic, outwardly speaking. I aspire to be such a travel writer. The quest is on, although, I have scripted the first of my tales. Writing itself is the best education for a writer, and besides practicing that part, I’ve been reading a Granta Book of Travel which features authors like Bruce Chatwin, Amitav Ghosh, and Salman Rushdie. I also found some great online help:
Published writer Peter Moore shares his travel writing secrets.
Jennifer Stewart has some great tips on the genre.
And finally, a comprehensive guide by journalist Anika Scott.
What’s your take on sharing travel tales and travel travails with others? Tell me; I am listening.