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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

TRAVELING AND WRITING

"The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are."
Samuel Johnson 1709- 1784 from "Mrs Prozzi - anecdotes of Samuel Johnson" 1986

'Way back in the late '70's, after taking a long break from writing, I began taking Creative Writing Classes. Up until that time all my writing had been in the form of short historical novels and plays, although when I first started my writing 'career', fresh out of high-school as a copy-runner for a newspaper, I had aspirations of becoming a journalist, specifically a crime reporter. That never came to be, and I ended up as a news librarian instead. But this basic knowledge of journalism never left me, and when I began to realize that to get a large piece of work published, such as a novel, I should first try to get some publishing experience, I decided to try my hand at travel writing.

At that time I was making some interesting trips abroad as well as to Central America and Mexico. I knew I had plans to eventually move to Europe, mainly Greece, so I decided to try my hand at travel writing. The very first piece I sent out in 1981 was published, and that was the beginning of my 'career' as a travel journalist. When I moved to Greece in 1983, I had already established a contact with a travel editor of the Globe and Mail newspaper and he was happy to accept any stories I mailed to him. Meanwhile, I was also working on my Celtic novel, Dragons in the Sky.

At that time I was writing on a little portable red Brother typewriter. I had it set up on an upturned drawer on the floor of my apartment in Athens. I wrote about all my journies around my new country, and I sent home hundreds of letters about my adventures, which fortunately my friends saved for me. Eventually I will compile stories from those letters to write a memoir about Life Under the Acropolis.

When I came back to Canada to live (regretfully) in 1987, I decided to start on a new novel, which was to be a short juvenile historical. This project grew into the Homeric saga Shadow of the Lion a story about the fall of Alexander the Great's dynasty, which has kept me occupied all the years since including researching in libraries and at sites in northern Greece. This is when I began combining research trips with travel journalism, and because of my love of history, most of my travel stories have a strong slant toward the history of the places I visit.

I've been fortunate this past year to make some fantastic journies. Usually my destination choice is Greece, via England. Last year I won the door-prize at the B.C. Travel Writer's Association yearly gala -- a trip to Malaysia. This year, recently returned from Malaysia, I again won the door prize, two plane tickets and City Pass tours to N.Y.C. I was floored by my good fortune as I had just purchased my ticket to visit Chile, a sentimental journey in memory of my friend Anibal, by invitation of his ex-wife. That trip is scheduled for mid November. And plans are already forumlating to visit Greece via Venice next May.

I just returned from the Big Apple, and I'm starting to write my blogs about that short, sweet adventure (see my travel blog at http://travelthroughhistory.blogspot.com )
I've found that by writing the blogs first, and taking the time to do the research about the places I've visited, then I can go back and easily write the travel articles.

Of course the problem these days for a free-lance writer, is finding the markets and because I am also busy writing my novel and teaching writing classes, I'm not as diligent as I should be when it comes to marketing. I don't always get the travel stories written that I've intended to write either. But I'm hoping to mend my ways!

This weekend I'm moving up in the world, out of an apartment building I'd consider my 'home' for some years, into a beautiful new condo apartment. I'm excited about this move. As much as I have loved my current 'home', there have been on-going hassles with the building owners/managers for the last two years and the place is getting run-down and happens to be in a neighbourhood where there are constant distractions like police cars, fire trucks, and noisy folk on the streets not to speak of the infamour Dragon Lady (the landlady) who makes me cringe every time I see her or hear her grating annying voice.

So I anticipate this move with great excitement. I know my new home will be quiet, clean (no more roaches and mice!) and will be far more conducive to conjuring the Muse.
It make take me a week or so to reorganize before I can start seriously writing again, but I know I will be back at the keyboard and in Alexander's world before too long.

I'll sign off here by this Saturday and be back as soon as they come to hook up my internet again. See you all then!

"I've never believed that one chance is all I get. Writing is my way of making other chances."
Anne Taylor

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