I plan on backpacking around Europe this coming winter and into the spring and summer. Six months looks good. We’ll see if I make it that long.
My plan is to pack a few clothes, my laptop, camera and phone, several scrawny notebooks, and only one or maybe two books. And I already know which writing book I’ll carry with me everywhere I go: The Travel Writer’s Way, by Jonathan Lorie.
This is a style book. It’s heavy in a way that consumer texts usually aren’t; it feels like a textbook but costs $20. The cover is rugged (as every travel-related book ought to be) and the pages are slick like pages in a magazine, but not delicate. He interviews a whole bunch of active writers, editors, publishers and book store owners. The first part of the book is all about writing and style.
The best part of this book is how he explains how to write. It isn’t just about travel writing—because there’s so much cross-over between all kinds of writing—but his explanations for simplicity excite me as a writer and teacher, and give me a way to explain it to students:
“It’s trying to take you down that street by offering straightforward observations in language so plain that you don’t notice the writing, you only notice the streets (Lorie, 9).”
His book is filled with these gems of seemingly simple sentences explaining concepts that I know by reading and practice, but don’t always know how to explain to new writers. Here’s another great concept to simplify further what he already said:
“The sentences are very easy, with no punctuation to clutter your walk down that street (Lorie, 9).”
The best parts of this book are it’s explanations of how to write, what to read, and interviews with professionals. He also gives some suggestions for making money with travel writing, but that isn’t the primary focus of this book: the focus is to pay attention and take notes as a traveler, and to tell your stories with entertaining simplicity as a writer. This is the book I will take with me into Europe. And I’m sure to read it over and over again.