Saturday, January 5, 2008

What are you waiting for?

It's the New Year and, like everyone else, I've been taking stock of the last year and making some resolutions for the year ahead. The usual line ups for me are: get fit, lose weight and stop falling for foreign men. Though, this year it has been my career that has taken out top honours on my resolution list (mind you, I do still need to break the foreign men habit!).

Sitting around drinking with a group of friends just before the New Year was tolled in, one of my friends posed the question: If you could do any job in the world, what would it be?

My mind went blank. I couldn’t think of any other job I’d rather be doing apart from what I currently do; travel writing. So when it came turn for my answer I simply said “I want to be a better version of me”, for which I was booed mercilessly and told to come up with a real answer.

Eventually conceding, I added that I wouldn’t mind being a singer. After all, I hear Britney Spears’ job might soon be free. Though, considering I’m tone-deaf and wouldn’t know a melody if I stumbled over one, I think Britney is safe… well, at least from me for now.

Fortunately for Britney and music lovers everywhere, what I realised that night was, I like who I am: a tone-deaf travel writer who likes nothing better than belting out her favourite song (current fav: Gwen Stefani’s What you waiting for?) at the top of her lungs while driving down an open highway in search of her next adventure.

You might think I'm a little crazy, after all, who wouldn’t want to be a travel writer – right? You get paid to jetset around the world, stay at all the nicest places, sample the local cuisine and suss out the newest attractions. What's not to like?

Sadly, reality doesn't live up to the hype – travel writing is not as glamorous as it seems. It’s tiring, it’s lonely, and, unless you are Bill Bryson or one of his cohorts, it doesn’t pay particularly well. And while being a travel writer you may have the freedom of being able to live wherever you want (visas permitting of course), it also means you often, as in my case, lose your sense of home (more on that in a later post).

For years I have been struggling with my identity as a writer – even going so far as to out rightly reject the "travel writer" tag in a desperate attempt to “settle down”. So for me the realisation that I liked what I did was an epiphany. As it turns out, I really am WILD ABOUT TRAVEL + WRITING!

The thing is, in the past when I have been covering a country, a city or an area for work, especially when I've been working on a guidebook, it has always been about getting the facts - where's the best place to try local cuisine? what's the newest and hottest night spot? what bus do you need to get from city A to city B? - not about the fascinating experinces I've had, the interesting people I've met or the amazing things I've seen. These stories, like the time I met a Transylvanian Count and had dinner with him in his castle in Romania, have been filed away in compartment in my memory labeled "Must Tell Someone Someday". But life is short, and if I don't start sharing them soon they will be lost forever.

My New Years' resolution, thus, is not only to be a better version of me - to be a better travel writer - but to share my passion and my experiences with others. To help me achieve this goal I have started this blog where I will keep you all up-to-date with where I am and what I am doing (even if it is just sitting at my desk and writing up my latest project) and share with you all the millions of wondrous experiences I have as traveller as well as my best tips and hints for anyone who wants to follow my route.

So if I am not "writing something worth reading" this year, I'll be "doing something worth writing about". After all I'm not getting any younger, and as my girl Gwen and I have warbled together on numerous occassions (granted she had no idea!), what am I waiting for?

Happy New Year!

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