My once and future dream job

May 29, 2008 at 7:01 pm | Posted in not yet written, read this | Leave a comment
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Turks and Caicos, winter 2007

I suspect that every journalist at some point thinks he or she is going to be/can be a travel writer.  I was (am?) not immune.  At one point in my fervent quest to turn my journalism career into that of a fabulous, globe-trotting travel writer, I got a freelance job helping a strange woman write a travel book on Caribbean destination wedding hotels.  I was told to get my information from the hotel brochures.  Supposedly it was to be a Frommer’s guide, and, clearly, the hotels were paying her.  It was all very disillusioning (and where was my actual trip to the Caribbean, anyway?).  Travel writing, I’ve come to theorize, is as much about luck as effort.  Because believe me, I’ve put in the effort:  I’ve come home from trips to Europe and South America and even Idaho with bags stuffed full of obscure restaurant menus and museum ticket stubs, pictures, and journals filled with my daily encounters, only to find that the newspapers to which I submitted my stories seemed already to have a cadre of  regulars.  Breaking in was difficult (at least for me). 

All this was during my “traveling years,” now somewhat abandoned for law school and Little Bugs (although, to be fair, we did go to Turks & Caicos last year).   Still, when I read good travel writing I not only fully appreciate the effort and meticulous detail that goes into a story, but I am incredibly jealous of the writer and also filled with practical questions: how did he or she get this gig?  Is this their only job?  How did they break in?  Matt Gross, who writes the Frugal Traveler column and blog for the Times, has been my favorite travel writer for a few years — I love it when he’s on one of his $100-a-day trips:  from traveling around the world or driving across the U.S. , to his current journey, retracing Europe’s “Grand Tour” on 100 Euros a day (a nod to the dismal exchange rate).  His writing is accurate — probably the most important trait for a travel writer — but also witty, personal, and at times surprisingly poignant.   Check out his current trip here.  Reading this makes me wonder how many European law firms need a U.S. tax lawyer…

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