My path as a travel writer has been paved with cats. I began this particular aspect of my career after escorting a group of unknown high school students to Europe in 2002. In the midst of a highly-organized tour overseen by a guide who struck me as a sort of long-suffering punk Mary Poppins, our little group discovered a cat sitting on ancient statuary in a Roman pit. Then we saw another cat, and another, and before long, we’d all run down to cavort with 200 of them at the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary, missing our scheduled Italian dinner.
Ditching your schedule is a terrific way to get publishable pieces. I got back to the States relatively intact and pitched and sold a profile of the Torre Argentina to Cat Fancy Magazine. On Thursday, at the Eugene Public Library, I spoke about how to generate ideas and craft travel articles and essays for magazines and newspapers.
Travel writing as a profession has been mighty strange so far. I’ve written about an ostrich in the Netherlands performing a mating dance for my husband in The Boston Globe, about slogging uphill in the mud with a 30-pound child on my back to reach Portland’s tallest point for The Register Guard, and about a beaver named Hudson for Horizon Air Magazine. Here’s the latter piece, below.
A word of caution to travel writers/photographers–just because your child has trained the family feline to stand on its hind legs once doesn’t mean she can do it again, and this photo–taken by Jonathan B. Smith–took incredible patience, a can full of freeze-dried liver, and me on my hands and knees for three hours pretending to be a cat.
Couldn’t make the library talk last Thursday because you were off traveling? Put your questions about travel writing in the comment box below, and I’ll be happy to answer them.