Travels in Europe: Writing On the Road


This is the sixth in a series of posts about how travel, reading, writing and communicating intersected during my five month European backpacking trip.

working.jpgEven though I set out on this adventure with no specific travel writing assignments or objectives (except to capture details in my journals), after about a month on the road I decided to pitch a few story ideas that kept surfacing in my mind. On a train ride from Lyon to Brussels in late March, I fleshed out my concepts and a few days later sent off query letters to editors at two publications.

A month later, I received a favorable response from one publication and had several email exchanges with the editor about how to move forward with submitting a story that suited their needs and audience. By May, I had a focus and a deadline. I figured I could manage to produce one well written story in 30 days as I traveled through five countries. My deadline was just days before I was due to attend a World Cup soccer match in Germany.

The most challenging task for this gadgetless gal throughout the writing process was locating computers that had access to Microsoft Word!! Many Internet cafes I encountered did not have word processing software, so I relied on generous family and friends who offered use of their home PCs for research and writing sessions. There were a few stressful moments along the way, but in the midst of World Cup mania, a lifesaver with a laptop helped me get the final article uploaded and submitted on time.

In late June, I was notified that my story was accepted for an upcoming issue, pending some additional minor edits. These were done immediately on the PC of a pal in Madrid and finally, with the help of yet another friend in Portugal, the photos and final text were submitted again. Then it was just a waiting game…

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And today it still is.

When I returned from my travels, I checked in with the editor and learned that my article would not appear in the issue it was originally slated for. Slight bummer, but I knew that this was the way things often go in the wonderful world of writing. I twisted it into a positive — I now had an opportunity to secure better photos and make a few tweaks to the text. The revised article will all be finalized by next week…and then the waiting resumes.

It will probably be the new year before my article appears in print, but I’m hopeful that it will happen. And if it’s bumped again, or even scratched, the effort has not been in vein, because I’ve learned tons from the process and proved to myself that I enjoy this and want it enough to stay positive and persist. If and when the article does make it into print, I’ll be sure to write a follow-up post about what happens.

Tomorrow I’ll end my month-long Travels in Europe series with final thoughts and some practical tips for writers who wish to turn stories into published work after an extended journey.