Part of my continuing education as travel writer, I started to read intensively travel stories and histories, not only about the city I am living in, but covering as many geographical areas as possible. In the last 3-4 months, on my reading desk I had the following literary experiences:
Bill Bryson – A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail is one of those books that would love to write one day. The good research is introduced delicately as part of the story, you have a lot of lively description, a pintch of human action and humility and passion, many passion. Many weeks after finishing the book I was dreaming about doing my own Appalachian Trail one day. What else can you wait from a book?
How to be a Kraut (kraut is a derogatory term for Germans) by Roger Boyes did not impress me. I found the style superficial and too many beer jokes. It’s nothing wrong to be very critic with what you see around, but there are thousand ways to tell it and too much criticism will not lead the writer too far. It says someone who will never be a ‘kraut’.
Uli Hannemann has apparently a good recipe of success as a travel writer: he writes extensively about the famous multi-culti melting pot called Neukolln from Berlin. The idea is brilliant, but while reading the first book from the series (for me): Neulich in Neukolln I had the feeling that this can be said by many other parts of Berlin. There are many funny personal stories well written included, but I may say that the author and his books are a bit overrated.
The revelation of the last days of intensive reading is, by far, Tim Leffel’s Travel Writing 2.0. Do not expect to get another good lecture about how to write – it is supposed that you already know it – but how to follow a business path when it comes to get money out of your travels. Honest advices and useful tips – as, for instance, to check carefully the terms of conditions of your contract. I fully agree with this line that it is developed in various ways in the book: ‘To pursue the independent path takes real courage and fortitude’ and it is true regardless of your writing area. You need patience, a lot of enthusiasm and passion for what you do and not for the people that buy your work. Regardless how rude and disrespectful they are, you have a different mission and you should fight for it. On the other hand, a travel writer should not forget the practical details of his or her daily life: starving does not look as a good future for someone that needs a lot of energy for challenging travel schedules. ‘Write often, write a lot, write about different things in different styles – there’s how you become great’. It means learning more than basic photography skills, video editing tips, social media and marketing knowledge, a lot of editing work, HTML basics. Regardless of how many years of travel writing you have behind, this book will still have some little well-hidden secrets.