April 2, 2013 — For the past two years I’ve been participating in Lassen County’s Lit Jam by holding a travel writing workshop, one of many workshops offered during the one-day event.
Last year I was new to Lit Jam and didn’t really know what to expect. This year I found myself looking forward to it, and wasn’t disappointed last Wednesday, March 27.
It’s probably no surprise writing is a practice near and dear to my heart, and it’s stimulating to be around so many people who love words. Reading through the workshop descriptions alone was enough to ignite the creative spark and I wish I could have attended some of them.
It’s also a huge community endeavor to organize and pull off this event. This year’s organizers, James Hall, Patti Thurman and Sophia Wages, were the force behind Lit Jam but many other individuals and organizations contributed time, goods and effort.
Lit Jam is also a chance to take stock of the direction of writing and media. More and more venues are opening up for aspiring writers and artists. YouTube videos, podcasts, blogs, not to mention all the social media outlets are not only becoming accepted means of expression but some savvy people are figuring out ways to make money from them.
It’s hard to imagine where we’ll be in another 10 years.
Travel writing, like so many other jobs in my life, was something I just fell into. For most of my life I’ve carved out my professional life with a combination of teaching and writing, sometimes a little more teaching, sometimes heavier on the writing side.
I was teaching at a college in China, but freelancing on the side when the editor of Tiger Airlines in Singapore contacted me. She had read the blog I was keeping and asked me if I’d be interested in writing some reviews of restaurants and resorts in Hainan, where I was living.
From there I moved onto other magazines which eventually took me all over southeast Asia to places I never imagined I’d be going. The pay was lousy but it covered my travel expenses.
Maybe the very fact travel writing is a labor of love, not of money, is part of why I love these workshops. No one turns to travel writing for wealth. Writers gravitate toward this type of writing because they love adventure, meeting new people and immersing themselves in different places.
But a person doesn’t have to go to the other side of the world to be a travel writer. Every place is a destination for someone, and there are plenty of stories in our own community to keep the ambitious writer busy for a lifetime.
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