Travel Writing in Your Own Backyard
This week, I’m prepping to teach a free workshop on travel writing for the Eugene Public Library–Thursday, May 24th, at 6 PM. My family and I have lately returned from 10 weeks in Costa Rica, and another 5 spent bopping around the United States. I’ve amassed more stories than I can ever hope to have time to write; however, I’ll be telling workshop participants on Thursday that you don’t necessarily have to wade in a crocodile-filled river or share dining space with White-faced Capuchins in order to get a good travel article, profile, or essay. Sometimes, compelling stories appear in your own backyard.
On sunny weekend mornings when we’re not off to Portland, or the Oregon coast or desert, we like to kayak Coyote Creek right outside of Eugene. Sure, it’s not exotic to us, but smart travel writers know that describing a familiar locale with an eye for evocative sensory details can bring a place to life for readers both regional and national. This month in Horizon Air Magazine, you can read my essay about getting my five-year old daughter to enjoy kayaking on Coyote Creek.
This Thursday, I’ll be encouraging workshop participants to think about the intriguing stories in their own hometown. Busy magazine and newspaper editors in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, and other large cities don’t have time to kayak Coyote Creek. They look to freelance travel writers to bring a little-known region to life with narratives about our waterways, our mountains, our public markets and festivals and quirky events such as Eugene’s annual ZombieWalk, captured in multimedia by UO Journalism students for KVAL.
This seems like a good time to mention one of my favorite travel writers, Diane Daniel, whom I talked with last year for an article on interviewing tips from successful journalists. I love her blog, “Places we go, people we see,” which gives background information for her published articles frequently published in The Boston Globe.
But what if you’re bored with your own backyard?
Interested in learning more about travel writing and photography, as well as exploring the stunning beaches and jungles and waterfalls and wildlife of Costa Rica? My husband, Jonathan B. Smith, and I will lead a week-long workshop–”Costa Rica Creative”–next February, in the mountainous region of Rincon de la Vieja and then in Playa Samara where we lived for several weeks. Interested? Feel free to send me an e-mail and I’ll give you the details!