Black Butterfly Press
Dr. Maxine Thompson
Dont go into the city alone, the blonde tourist warned me at the port of Belize. They will cut off your arm for your jewelry.
This was in October 2004, when I went on a Caribbean cruise which, among other islands, stopped in the country of Belize. As I have a friend (whom Ill call Natalia) who grew up in Belize, this made me curious as to how the people actually lived.
Instead of jumping on a tour bus, I decided to get out of my comfort zone and go off the beaten path. I found a group of men standing outside the gates of the port, clamoring for customers to get into their cabs. Finally I chose the most friendly-looking man and climbed into a taxi, which was actually a jitney. On this hour-long ride around the island, I, not only felt deliciously alive, I saw Belize through Natalias eyes.
My driver, Raoul as Ill call him, assured me that the people would treat me kindly because the island is largely supported by tourism. First, he took me to the richer side of the island. This side of town was comprised of small mansion-like homes, wrapped around by lush palms, which belonged to the prime ministers and the dignitaries. The neighborhood was sedate and quiet as all the inhabitants were at work.
Afterwards, we blundered through the back streets and alleys of Belize, and I met the everyday denizens, including the derelicts.
Looking back, in what Raoul described as the hood side of the island, I noticed that the largest house belonged to that of the Obeah woman. This house was chalky white and resembled a mausoleum. It stood out like the Taj Mahal in a trailer camp as it was surrounded by what can only be described as windowless hovels and wooden shacks. Suddenly I realized and appreciated how much Natalia had accomplished by coming to America from this third-world country. (Truly, Natalia had given me an accurate picture as to how underdeveloped the country was.)
But this trip also made me think. How can a writer improve his writing through traveling?
These are just some of the benefits I gained.
1.. Travel gives you a broader frame of reference from which to write.
2..You get to see how people in other parts of the world live.
3..Travel helps you learn how it feels to walk in another mans shoes.
4..Travel satisfies a writers curiosity and can give you life-changing information.
5..Travel gives you a fresh perspective on life and expands your horizons before you close your eyes in death.
Travel helps you fill out the small details of your writing projects. These were some of the ideas that I gathered while traveling. Some will be used in future projects.
1. From my trip, I absorbed many small details, which eased their way into my novella, Second Chances, a story about renewal and resurrection in life.
2. People are basically generous. As people opened up to me, I found everyone has a story.
3. I learned about the haunted hotels in Galveston, Texas, which is an area of research Id like to look into.
4. I learned about the flood in Galveston, Texas, which killed over 8,000 people in 1908. Id like to research this story more.
5. On the cruise, I took classes in traveling around the world safely, which cultivated my desire to travel around the world.
6. I also took a class on feng shui, which I found to be useful as a fictional plotting tool. (Pronounced fung- schway, this is the ancient Chinese art of manipulating and arranging your surroundings to attract positive life energy, or chi, so it can flow smoothly, unblocking any obstructions in your body and environment. Feng Shui evolved from the theory that people are affected for better or worse by their surroundings.)
Most of all, since this trip, I discovered that travel not only broadens a writers horizons, it is a lucrative way to make money as a travel writer.
As a writer, how would you like to travel the globe and find out how different cultures live? What if you could do this, stay in five-star hotels, and have an all-expense paid for trip? Moreover, what if you could get paid for writing articles about your travels? Wouldnt it be nice to supplement your income as a novelist?
Bottom line. The largest journey is the internal journey that you go on when you travel. I believe the best writing should Tell me something I dont know. Therefore, when you travel, you will encounter the unknown.
Some resources to help you sell articles, including travel articles are the following:
1. Writer”s Market — this annual publication lists 8,000 or more (mostly North American) publications that buy articles — travel and others.
2. Writers & Artists Yearbook — A directory for writers, artists, playwrights, writers for film, radio, and television, designers, illustrators, and photographers. This is a good resource for British and European markets.
3. The Guardian Media Directory — Also focuses on the British and European markets, this listing contains over 10,000 contacts, from regional newspapers to publishing houses.