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Archive for March, 2010

I’ve got a new interview with the anthology’s editor, Stephanie Elizondo Griest, up on World Hum — we talk, among other things, about travel writing’s traditional gender imbalance and whether there’s a distinction to be made between “women’s travel writing” and “travel writing by a woman.” Check it out.

Also, if you’re in the New York area, World Hum’s hosting a launch party/reading for the book tonight at 7pm at Idlewild Books. It should be a great event — I’ll be there in spirit.

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And out like a dine-and-dasher; I have no idea where this past month went. I’ve been keeping busy — I spent the first week of March in the Pacific Northwest, five days mid-month road-tripping the Dempster Highway, and am just back from a weekend in Skagway, AK for a cross-country ski race. And of course I’ve been hard at work, too. Way back at the start of the month we published my annual Travel Movie Awards — the Oscars are long over, but if you haven’t yet checked this one out please do.

I also did an interview with the crew over at SoSauce earlier this month, and realized that, having done a handful of these things now, I should probably collect them in one place. So here goes: In addition to the SoSauce item, I’ve got an interview at Nileguide, and a video chat with Go Galavanting.

Some highlights from the month in World Hum features: We published Lover’s Moon, a Pico Iyer original that sheds some light on his inner soundtrack as he prepared to write “Video Night in Kathmandu” — that was a thrill. I also loved this excerpt we ran from Carl Hoffman’s new book, “The Lunatic Express” — The Mad Matatus of Kenya — and thoroughly enjoyed Tom Swick’s latest musings on the state of modern travel writing.

Up next? An Easter weekend cross-country ski trip, a flying weekend visit to Vegas, and a trip home to Ottawa before I head down to Barbados for some much-needed warmth and sun.

My first winter north of 60 is very nearly over. Maybe a commemorative plaque is in order?

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I wanted to draw attention, briefly, to this essay we published at World Hum last week: Inspiration, Travel Writing and L’Esprit Frondeur. It’s by Atlantic correspondent Jeffrey Tayler, and it’s about how he became a writer. I always get a kick out reading the “how I got started” stories of writers I admire, but I especially appreciated this one for making an important and surprisingly regularly overlooked point:

I’d like to clarify something fundamental. I take for granted that if you want to be a writer, you’re a wordsmith, a lover of the classics and a connoisseur of literature. Writers must, initially and throughout their lives, be readers first and foremost, and readers not primarily of journalism, but of the classics, both modern and not-so-modern. I also take for granted that aspiring writers know how to compose a proper declarative sentence and don’t misuse words. Reading the classics will help hone your ear, but there are many good books on usage out there and writers should read and digest them and reread them. Inspiration and an esprit frondeur won’t help aspiring writers who don’t know the basics of their craft. No matter what motivates you, no matter what experiences you have and seek to put down on paper, editors buy well-written words, and your writing has to be exceptional if it is to see print.

In all the talk about building your online brand, social media, and so on, this basic point – that aspiring writers should love words and know how to use them – can sometimes go overlooked. So thanks for the reminder, Jeffrey.

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