The multi-talented and lovely Joanne Mallon has tagged me in the writer’s blog hop. This involves answering a few questions about how and what I write, then passing it on to a few more writers-who-blog.
First of all, I hold my hands up to say I’m not the best travel blogger. I don’t post regularly enough. And I’m technically illiterate.
What am I working on?
Last year I did a bad thing. I persuaded my husband to leave his well-paid job and set up a website called Travel de la Crème. It’s a collection of the best 500 luxury hotels in the world (according to me). The USP is that we have visited them all ourselves. We are half way through– I’m editor and write all the reviews – and should have them all on the site by next autumn. Feedback from the hotels is really positive and when I’m not crying from fatigue with so many back-to-back trips, explaining to my friends it’s not a holiday, or finding another way to describe a marble bathroom, I feel really upbeat about it.
Alongside this, I keep up my freelance travel writing. Recently I’ve written an art story about Majorca, updated a guide to Cape Town, written some packing tips, a first-time visitor to India article and I’m working on a social history piece.
I’m also writing a book about interesting people in the luxury hotel business.
How does my work differ from others in this genre?
I’m not a great one for round-ups or top tens, although I have written a few. I know it’s the way of the world, but prefer to write about a place I have visited, rather than research the whole story off the Internet.
I love trying new things, so I’ve written about learning to scuba dive in Madeira, trying out cryotherapy in Austria, novice sailing in the British Virgin Islands, cooking healthily in India, cheetah tracking in Africa, pasta making in Italy, being taught to play golf in Sicily, langlaufing in Switzerland and stand-up paddle boarding in the south of France.
Why do I write what I do?
I feel some compulsion to write, to share.
With a teaching background, I also like to unpick complicated things and try to explain them in simple language. So I try to write about useful things that will help people and in my travel writing, I try to give a sense of a place.
I find people fascinating and love to know about their work and why they enjoy what they do. I’ve interviewed architects, musicians, artists, farmers and chefs. I don’t really care who has had a butt lift but am interested in the young mother in India working barefoot on a building site with a baby on her back.
I’ve always travelled and I’m fortunate to have visited so many wonderful places. I say ‘fortunate’ deliberately rather than ‘lucky’, as I think you make your own luck.
How does my writing process work?
I’m usually at my desk by 8.30am.
Although we both work from home, we have separate offices. I’m very quiet and don’t like any distractions at all. I can’t even have the radio on. Which is a shame, as I love music. So I do my music catch up at lunchtime or in the evening. I spend the first hour making a ‘to do’ list and answering urgent emails. I have a Moleskine book that is always with me and I write notes (in pencil only) every time I think of an idea, or read or see something. I have another wired A5 notebook at my desk. It used to be scraps of paper until I lost something important. You learn. I have little time slots for my work and make sure I stick to them. I suppose I’m quite organised but as a former full time working mother, I’ve learned to be.
I always bash out something then refine and refine and polish until it is perfect. I sleep on it and then check it again before I file. I don’t believe in writer’s block. You don’t have great chefs saying, ”Sorry, no food today, I couldn’t think what to cook.” I do believe sometimes you can’t think of what to write, but the best thing is to write something and then improve it. I always try to have the work finished well before the deadline. Unpredictable personal stuff comes up sometimes and I’m glad to have got my work out of the way.
Endings are very hard in travel writing. I try to have a theme running through as that makes it easier.