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Friday, March 17, 2006

OH, THE LIFE OF A TRAVEL WRITER!

"I travel light; as light,
That is, as a (woman) can travel who will
Still carry (her) body around because
Of its sentimental value."
Christopher Fry 1907 - "The Lady's Not for Burning." 1950 Act 1

I started writing travel stories back in 1980 when I realized that to get a major work published, such as a novel, I would need some publsihing experience. I'd had a background in journalism -- my first job after high school was as a copy-runner in the editorial department of The Vancouver Sun newspaper. I wanted to be a crime reporter. The City Editor would't hear of an eighteen year old preacher's daughter sitting on the News Desk. So I ended up being a news librarian, honing my research skills, in charge of the crime files which proved to be a fascinating career move!

I sent out my very first travel article in 1982 to a travel trade magazine and voila! it was published and I got paid good money for it. Shortly after that I went to live in Greece, and began sending travel stories about my new home to The Globe and Mail newspaper (Canada's national newspaper). Everything I submitted was published. And that began my career as a travel journalist. Since then, I've had many articles published in a number of newsapeprs and magazines. Unfortunately I'm not as agressive a marketer as I should be, and I'm also focused on my major work, The Great Unfinished Novel, besides other writing projects I have on the go and the lessons I teach. Travel journalism might sound like an appealing and romantic 'career' but to tell the truth, these days it's getting more difficult to find publishers, in particular ones who want to pay you any kind of real money. Newspapers tend to use their own staff writers or their news services for stories and very few freelancers. Magazines also have staff writers. So you have to be constantly on the look-out for new markets, ones that will pay!

That's why I turned to teaching travel writing (and other writing courses)in order to support my writing habit and not have to work at a 'real' job. And finally, after all these years, I seem to have found the fine balance. As well, I have been lucky enough to glean a huge reward: I won a trip to Malaysia which was the door prize at a gala held by the B.C. Association of Travel Writers of which I'm a member. www.bctravelwriters.com (I have a little spot on there with my photo and a couple of my published articles under my real name W. Ruth Kozak)
This trip is a kind of 'reward' for all those stories that I got very little money (or nothing!) for.

I still can't believe this is true. Two more sleeps and I'm on the plane bound for Kuala Lumpur!
My fellow travel writer's from the Association are thrilled and pleased for me. Three of the women have been to Malaysia before on assignment trips, and they assure me I will be treated royally! The trip is fully paid for, five-star hotels, and other perks thrown in. Of course it is a kind of 'assignment' trip because I will definitely be writing some travel stories although the Malaysian tourism didn't specifically request this. It's a matter of saying 'thank's, a courtesy, and after all think of the fantastic sights I'm going to see!

One special tour that has been arranged (at my request) is a visit to the 14 acre estate of Rimbun Dahan which is the home of an architect and also the Center for Developing Traditional and Contemporary Art Forms. This idyllic tropical garden also hosts resident writers as well as artists. I've been in touch with the architect's wife (she writes for The Malaysian Naturalist and takes tours around the botanical gardens.) So, armed with my hand-held tape recorder and note book I hope to get a good interview and lots of excellent photos to illustrate the story I intend to write. You can see Rimbun Dahan for yourself on this web site:
http://www.rimbundahan.org/about

So for the next two weeks, blogger friends, you can find out all about Malaysia and my travels by logging onto my travel blog: http://travelthroughhistory.blogspot.com
I've already posted some preliminary blogs about Malaysia (pre-research for my trip) and it will give you an idea about where I will be visiting and some background about this fascinating country.

On Sunday, my friend and I are leaving on a jet plane (you can sing that line) from L.A. It's going to be a rather gruelling day's journey, leaving Vancouver at 3.15 pm., landing in L.A. two and a half hours later, then hanging around LAX for five hours before we board Malaysian Airlines for Kuala Lumpur, a 20 hr. 40 min. flight!!! (yikes!) with a brief stop-over in Taipei to change planes. (I wish the long lay-overs coming and going were in Taipei instead. That would be so much more exotic than L.A. But we did get an extra night in Kuala Lumpur (K.L.)
because of flight changes which is a bonus! )

My travel companion is an old friend, my namesake, who became my first girlfriend in Vancouver when my family moved here when I was 12. We don't see each other often now because she lives up-country, so this will a time for us to renew our long-time friendship.

Don't forget to blog onto my travel blog so you, too, can share in our amazing travel adventures! As they say in Malay: Selamat Jolan...goodbye! Have a good trip!

"For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go.
I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move."
Robert Louis Stevenson 1850-1894 "Travels with a Donkey" 1878




2 comments:

Sam said...

I can't wait to here all about the trip!!

Sam said...

I read yuor travel-log and the trip sounded delightful (except for the lobster dinner, lol!!)
Now I can't wait for the photos!!