Lyman Frank Baum 1856- 1919 "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz"
Being a travel writer definitely has some perks. If you read my travel blog at
http://travelthroughhistory.blogspot.com you will read some preliminary entries to the trip I am going on to Malaysia in just a couple of weeks. I won this trip as a door-prize at a gala last Spring held by the B.C. Association of Travel Writers, of which I am a member of. It's an all-expense paid trip to this tropical paradise, five star hotels and city tours: 3 days in Kuala Lumpur at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, then 3 days on the island of Langkawi at the Langkawi Lagoon Resort. We paid for an additional 4 days at this resort and then were given an extra day in K.L. on our return. The trip was for two except for the air fare. As my sister was unable to come with me, one of my long-time friends is coming along. Both of us are thrilled beyond words at this stroke of luck. Of course, it's a kind of 'assignment' for me as I will be expected to write some stories about Malaysia. I'm looking forward to that too!
Because I'm a member of the BCATW I get a few perks thrown in, such as invitations to media shows and receptions. Last weekend it was a special reception and art exhibit presented by Tourism New Zealand. We met at the Spirit Wrestler Gallery to view an amazing display of Maori and Northwest Coastal Native art. Later we went to a wine reception at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel (rather posh) and then a reception buffet- banquet which was attended by many First Nations people as well as the visiting Maori artists. It was fascinating watching the procession of elders and the greeting ceremonies. Then a delicious banquet was served of various foods, produce from New Zealand (except for the donated fresh salmon of our Pacific Coast) all prepared by the N.Z. chef. Quite an extravagent event. We even got to meet the N.Z. High Commissioner and his wife, lovely people, so gracious. I've always wanted to visit N.Z. so this just whet my appetite.
I've been busy teaching my night school classes lately and this week I also was invited to teach a travel writing class at one of the colleges where my friend teaches journalism. That was another bonus, as it pays really well and is an inspiring experience for me too. My writing classes are: Novel Writing, Prompting the Muse (writing from prompts) and Travel Writing. All of them are enjoyable but the Travel Writing is always the most fun. I love hearing about other people's amazing trips and showing them how to write about them in an interesting and entertaining way, whether for articles, blogs, journals, or creative non-fiction stories.
You don't make a lot of money freelancing these days, so I supplement my writer's 'income' by teaching classes, which is most enjoyable. And then of course, comes tax time and I submit a 'self employment' return and as I am a travel writer and must travel to do this, all the expenses I incur are deducted (as well as other writing related expenses). This generally pays for my next trip. And as the Malaysia trip is pretty well 'free' except for spending money, I am hoping that later this year I can afford to go to Chile. And that will not only be a travel writing trip but a sentimental journey to see the places my friend A. always talked about and spend time with his lovely ex who has invited me there.
So, in spite of not making a ton of money for my writing, there are these other 'perks' which make it all worthwhile. (I should add the dozens of pens and other doo-dads I collect whenever I go to a travel media show!) Not to speak of the interseting schmoozing that goes on. Now I'm aiming for more FAM trips in future. I figure I've earned it!
"Setting out on a voyage to Ithaca
you must pray that the way be long,
full of adventures and experiences."
Constantine Peter Cavafy 1863-1933 "Ithaca" 1911 l.11
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This probably doesn't fit in the TBR Challenge, but here goes:
TITLE: "Dinner with Persephone: Travels in Greece"
AUTHOR: Patricia Storace
YEAR PUBLISHED: 1996, Vintage Departures, Vintage Books (Div of Random House NY)
WHY DID YOU GET THIS BOOK? My travel companion was reading it on our trip to Greece last summer and loaned it to me.
DO YOU LIKE THE COVER? The cover has a picture of a succulent pomegrante, Aphrodite's fruit of love. Quite appealing.
DID YOU ENJOY THE BOOK? Yes. The book was not simply a travelogue but written with a great deal of scholarship. It provided a lot of information and anecdotes about Greek life, customs, superstitions, myths and history.
WAS THE AUTHOR NEW TO YOU AND WOULD YOU READ SOMETHING BY THIS AUTHOR AGAIN? Patricia Storace is the author of a book of poems and won a prize for poetry from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She has published essays but this is her first book of prose. I would read her future books.
ARE YOU KEEPING IT OR PASSING IT ON? I must return it to my friend.
ANYTHING ELSE? I enjoyed the book, in particular some of the anecdotes and stories about famous Greeks, in particular the tragic story of Penelope Benaki, daughter of the famous Benaki family whose home is now the Benaki Museum in Athens. She survived a harsh and unhappy life and became Greece's first children's writers, under the name of Penelope Delta.
Sadly, she killed herself with poison when the Germans invaded Greece in the '40's.
Some things I didn't like about the book were that is often went on too long with historical background and not too many exciting 'travel' experiences of the author which slowed the pace. In the final chapters about Ayvalik (Aivali) and Istanbul, Turkey, I disagreed with some of the commentary regarding the Turkish women. I've visited both Ayvalik (once) and Istanbul (several times since 1975) and also other west coast Turkish cities as recently as 2004, and did not frequently find women dressed in 'ugly long overcoasts' and veils. Mostly they were in modern western dress or the colourful pantaloons the village women wear. They are not so cloistered as the author seemed to portray them, though some of her facts are correct. I felt she was observing the more liberal Turkish Muslims from a critical and closed American P.O.V. and she was only there for a brief time so wasn't interacting much with the locals. As for her observations of Greek village life and customs, having lived in a tiny shepherd's village in the mountains of Evvia for part of the five years I spent living in Greece, I agreed with most of her comments. "Dinner with Persephone" is an interesting book, in particular if you have little knowledge of the country and people of Greece. My friend, who was making her first visit to Greece when she read it, found the book very informative.