"Ordinary men hate solitude
But the Master makes use of it,
embraces his aloneness,
realizing he is one with the whole universe."
Tao te Ching 42
An important reason why I come to Greece year after year is not only because of the friends I've made here, and that it is a part of my life. It's because of my writing. a good part of my historical novel "Shadow of the Lion" was written while I stayed here during the '90'
s and mostly all of the research for it was done here at the Gennadius Library, the British School Library, at archaeological sites or with the help and encouragement of the Finnish Institutes and the classical scholar friends I've met here from Finland,Norway and Denmark. I hve, to this point,never had any help or encouragement for this project from Canada (other than the critiquing of my Scribblers writing group who have kept me on track)
My travel writing career started in the '80's when an article I wrote about Leros Greece wa published. And from the time I came here to live in 1983, every article I submitted to the Globe and Mail, typed on my portable Brother typewriter set on the bottom of a drawer on the floor f my sparsley furnished room on Iannatakis Street, or when I lived on Vironos St (Byron's Street), was pubished. In 1993, the Greek consul in Vancouver became aware of my studies and writing of Macedonian history (Alexander the Great had been my hero since I was 16). They offered me a ticket to Greece so I could do my research. This was also an opportunity to bail out of a very unsavory daycare job that was sapping my energy and health. This trip opened new doors for me and resulted in an interview in Thessaloniki with the secretary for Macedonian studies, and eventually led to me meeting my group of classical scholar friends at the To Kati Allo in Athens.
So Greece has bgecome an imortant part of my writing career. If I could afford it, I'd be coming here for six month stints like I used to, just to write. As it is, I'm fortunate to have found my niche at home, living the writer's life, teaching writing classes and making connections with local writers. I'm dismayed though, by the current situation with freelance travel writing and recently have had some unpleasnt experiences in this respect which have left me feeling as if I should give up, back off, like I don't 'belong' with the 'in' group. I won two trip prizes fair and square at the BCATW gala but took a lot of flack becauser of it and was told at the last gala that if I won again I should give the prize away. (some of this was joking but there were so many comments made I felt uneasy and unhappy about it). There were even insinuations that I had not produced articles to cover those trips, even though I'd already had one published and three more out to market at the time. I don't qualify for the FAM trips that other travel writers get because unlike them, I don't have an 'in' with an editor and do everything on my own. All my trips such as this one have been funded by ME and the majority of my published stories are from these trips which I write about 'from the heart' and not because I'm 'expected' to. (Even the Greeks didn't 'expect' me to write the feature article that was published in the Montreal Gazette on "Searching for Alexander" after they had generously paid for my journey to Greece.)
Recently I submitted several previously published stories to a populare on-line travel publication which does not pay for your submissions. The editor of this publication hs high expectations as to how these 'free' articles should be sumbitted. I sumbitted one which was published, then she requested more which I sent. Unfortunatly I made some errors in the required format, and received back a couple of nasty scathing emails as if she was addressing an idiot. this woman makes her career off of other writers free submissions. I have never been addressed so disrespectfully by an editor in my entire freelance career, and told her so. Needless to say, I don't think I'll give her any more of my work. On the other hand, I do published on other on-line/print sites with no problems (and usually pay). If you check on
http://www.cstn.org/ site (under Greece and Turkey) you will find recent and past articles by me about these destinations. I have always been treated courteously by these editors and these are publications I will continue to submit to. And I will, as usual, pay for my own trips with no 'expectations' from anyone.
So, here I sit in the courtyard musing and writing. I haven't made any new notes of "shadow" so far on this trip and I missed out on the trip to Sappho's Leap to get new inspiration for my play "House of the Muses". But I have been inspired by the time spent with my friendshere, and just 'bing' back in Greece. I have tried to focus on writing travel articles though,and have garnared more material for this. (another reason for my disappointment about the amorgos trip was that I had really made an effort to connect with the tourism people there and thought I had been successful in impressing them on my reasons for being there. Instead I felt as if we were treated like just another tourist.) Well, in the end, I've been doing this on my ownnow for over 25 years, quite successfully, so I don't really need a 'group' to do it. I guess I just need more experience inpromoting myself. Maybe what I shall do in future is start my own travel website, and if I do, I shall remember not to be nasty to my contributors and try to pay them at least a little stipend for their effort.
"Don't allow something or someone to cast a shadow over your life - this shadow seems to block your source of illumination andhappiness. these shadows -- experiences or attitudes -- have no control over y ou. You can release negativity and the cloud of darkness is lifted."
the Daily World