I used to love telling stories about travel. I’d sit on buses and trains and hostel beds, hunched over a notebook, scribbling away and filling it with stories from the road. Capturing encounters with new people, little kindnesses from strangers, or funny things that someone said. Or just trying to capture the spirit of a place: the sights and sounds and smells. On a trip I’d write down every single thing that happened to me, because all of it seemed new and exciting and special.
But then I became a blogger, and that’s very different from a writer. In many ways its better, especially because I get to make my living doing little more – in base terms at least – than being unequivocally, unabashedly myself. I post photos of myself and tweet whatever silly thing I’m thinking, and somehow that’s turned itself into a sort of pseudo job that allows me to keep on travelling as much as I want to.
But the writing that comes with this different to the writing I like. It’s about traffic – about getting people to read. It’s about clickbait titles and SEO. The thing I love about blogging is that I can be useful – by sharing advice and guides and budget tips – and maybe even sometimes inspirational. That I get emails and comments from people telling me I’ve helped them, or inspired them to book a trip. The thing I don’t love about blogging is that more often than not, the post that will get read is a guide or a top ten or something else that is useful or interesting or funny but that doesn’t quite capture the spirit of travel or the reality of a destination or just the warmth and joy and thrill of being on the road.
For the longest time, I’ve been complaining about that, but not really doing anything about it. I continue to focus all my energy on creating either the posts that a client is paying me to produce, or on the ones that might please the all-knowing, impossible to-please Internet God that is Google. I have a finite amount of energy and a lot of clients to make happy.
It’s been on my mind for a while that I wanted to start a series of the stories that never get told. These are the things that don’t fit with the brand-message of press trips, or simply might never get read because they’re not really about anything. They’re just short stories about the little joys and quirks of travelling. About the kindnesses of random strangers or the weird things people say. Stories that try to capture what a place or a scene or a moment was really like – the good and the bad of it. They are simply short little stories from the road – stories that meant something to me and that I want to tell, regardless of whether or not they get read.
Because what’s the point of being a writer with no boss or editor or agent, if you can’t write exactly what you want to every once in a while?
So every now and then (let’s not try to stick to a schedule)… I thought I’d try to publish one of my untold stories. Funny things that happened on a press trip. Interesting people I met. Chaotic nights of drunkenness. Moments that were special simply “because”. Things that show why I truly travel – for the people and the special moments, not just for the blog traffic. Just little notes from the road that mean something to me, and let me practice the kind of writing I like. I hope you’ll read them…