Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Few Thoughts About Travel Writing

Every time I take a trip, and I've taken many of them, someone asks me to report on it or write about it. I've never been sure how to respond. I plan to study the art of travel writing more sometime, but as of now, I don't do much of it.

Travel writers seem to lead interesting lives: they sometimes enjoy free trips in exchange for articles designed to encourage others to visit certain places. That's fine, but for me, travel is about experiencing and enjoying--and as I grow older, sometimes about enduring physical hardship.

I have enjoyed many travel books and articles, especially those with fabulous photos of exotic places. However, I have never aspired to write such a book or article. My only real travel writing experience involved my husband's and my motorcycle journey in the former Soviet Union in 1990. I wrote about it for a Wright College publication, and I reprinted it in my first book, Reinventing Myself. At the time, motorcycle touring in Russia was unusual, and I kept good notes during the trip.

Today, when it seems that almost everyone travels everywhere, I have come to realize that there's little I can add to the fine travel writing that appears regularly. I have resolved to blog a bit about my trips in an impressionistic way. For my recent South Africa trip, for example, I have already posted a few pictures of the impressive animals in their natural habitat. Soon, I intend to write a bit about South Africa as a country today, and then I'll discuss the problems of elder travel. I'll share a few more photographs as well.

If any of this interests you, see my other blog, "Never too Late!" (There are various links here.) Meanwhile, what are your thoughts on travel and travel writing?

Copyright 2008 by Marlys Marshall Styne
Photo by the author


Anonymous said...

I am a writer and I have traveled a great deal. I wrote a book about traveling in Tibet, with many quotes and references to earlier travelers who saw the country before the Chinese invasion so I was able to draw parallels. There are two kinds of travel wrting. One is pure journalism which gives other travelers useful information like hotels and restaurants and transportation and a bit of local history This is not something i want to do. Literary travel writing is a diffrent genre. The writer must have something to say. There are few newspaper or magazine outlets for such writing. Publishers want known names and they want humor, it is a difficlt market. I have several essays about unusual experiences and have been deeply frustrated trying to place them. All I can finally say is that I have found writing about a meaningful travel experience has enriched my understanding of place, event and of my own experience so the effort certainly has not been a waste. As an elder [turning 70 next week] I find publications for seniors seem unwilling to print articles/stories about the mildly adventurous traveling I enjoy and seem to think seniors want to cruise or play golf. Most editors, it seems are young and unconsciously agist despite their job. I do not mean to sound cynical. Nothing has stopped me from writing.

seniorwriter said...

I, too, "have found [that]writing about a meaningful travel experience has enriched my understanding of place, event and of my own experience so the effort certainly has not been a waste."

At 76, I'm glad to have the luxury of writing what I want to, when I want to. I'll probably never be discovered or make money on my writing, but that's all right. I love doing it.