The Other Side of Writing

Does the outside world think that writing is just writing? Are you visualizing a clean desk with a solitary chair and state-of-the-art computer set up?

Today I’m on a twin bed in the house that I grew up in. I’m surrounded by the more important papers that were on my desk at TT. Expense reports, “Bookselling this Week,” an airline confirmation print out for my speaking gig next week, a royalty statement, and submissions to Whose Panties are These. On my nightstand is a review copy of Alexa Thompson’s Antarctica on a Plate and Anthony Holden’s Big Deal: One Year as a Professional Poker Player. A collection of business cards, a guide to the Australian Book Trade (Thanks Larry, Susan, or Krista), and a box of blank cards waiting for thank you sentiments add to the disarray.

Today the phone was near glued to my ear. I finalized an assignment as the first “Feature Editor” for, where I’ll be paid to blog up a storm about hotels for the next three months. Comments and edit requests came in for my BREAK article, and I have two days to turn them around. Knocked off my to-do list was getting Susan a book order for two upcoming gigs, arranging my hotel and car rental for the Detroit speaking engagement, and sorting out accommodations for the rest of the week. And since my memory is foggy, I think this is half of it.




So, what’s this part of the trade called? The business end? To find out what other travel writers think of the business end of travel writing, check out the interviews on

Sure writers write. But how often do we talk about the selling, editing, and marketing side of the assignments? Lucky for me, I love this side. But it’s easy to feel like you haven’t done anything if 5pm comes and all you can remember are emails and phone calls. If you want to make sure you get to your writing, set a fixed time to turn to it. Or don’t start the computer until you’ve written for an hour. Easy for me to say, and much harder to do!

What am I going to do about the challenge? Take it day by day and make sure that I have work to be proud of by the end of the week. And of course hire a Catholic, ruler thwapping, envelope pushing, fact checking, lunch making, tyrant of-a-personal assistant as soon as feasibly possible.