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Books in the eGeneration:

“Travel Writing” is More than Travel Books



I started my travel blog over a year and a half ago. I read that it was a non-negotiable aspect of becoming a contemporary writer, even a writer who wanted to earn a living through the craft rather than blogging opinions on the latest iPod (which incidentally earns a lot of people a living). I’d made it my mission to put seven years worth of university towards something related to the degree it earned me: Creative Writing. It was not fiction, as I’d once planned, but travel writing, something much more in-tune to my life since graduating in 2005.

Starting off, I wrote about life as an expat in Russia and the grammar qualms of being an EFL teacher. Some of it was interesting (I think), some of it humorous (to my wife), and all of it fairly self-indulgent. I was writing about me for an audience of people who knew me, or potentially were in need of a new and distant friend who liked to write about himself. Most of the entries, however, I enjoyed writing, and I was sure they were improving me as a writer. It felt right in some way, but I also recognized that I had not garnered the thousands of readers necessary for a blog to earn you some income.

This month, when the last of my internationally-shipped travel books had all been read and my new shipment was in the abyss of Guatemala City’s post office, I stumbled upon a fantastic article about 10 of the Most Inspiring Websites for Aspiring Digital Nomads. I bookmarked it and ignored for the next week. Then, in a fit procrastination—I’ve been having trouble getting the travel words out lately—I opened it up. Lo and behold, I was inspired. Many of the websites/blogs were about creating websites and blogs. Others, such as Nomadic Matt, were more travel-y. Whatever the case, a new fire was set alight.

Firstly, I downloaded an ebook. I’ve not been much of ebook reader, partly because of a dusty pre-Twitter/rugged nomad attitude and partly because my wife uses the iPad and I the laptop. (Seriously, who reads a book on a laptop? Or, for that matter, calls himself a rugged nomad then mentions using a laptop in the same sentence?) Anyway, inspiring website number one was The Art of Non-Comformity, which sounded fairly heady but proved to be as practical as philosophical. The suggested reading for said website was How to Be Awesome, which I enjoyed. Next thing I know, I’m downloading a book: 279 Days to Overnight Success.


Now, I’ve never read a self-help book in my life, feeling that I’m pretty adept at helping myself. This seemed like Chicken Soup for the Writer type thing, but Chris Guillebeau had sucked me in a little (and it was free). I wanted to read what he had to write. Fresh coffee on the coffee table, reclined on the sofa, Emma in the bed reading Spanish Harry Potter on the iPad, I mouse-d my way to the .pdf on my desktop and started. It was really good. Interesting. It was, as promised, very inspiring. I began making notes for a new blog as I read. I began thinking of how blogging might provide me a little more stable income than freelancing. I took another step into the 21st century world of writing.

After his book, after having looked at all the inspiring websites on the list, I got sucked in again with the list’s honorable mention: Smart Passive Income (Smart Passive Income wasn’t in the top ten because the blogger is stationary). However, the site has officially stoked me and pushed me over that final hurdle into acting on my impulse to blog for dollars. Patt Flynn, the generous author, takes readers through a step-by-step recounting as he makes his own income-generating site. Honestly, I’ve read a few of these sorts of articles, trying to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing, and for once I feel as though I understand what that is.

So, while my book review is a little unconventional this week, maybe less book-y than normal, not quite 100% vagabondish, I’m recommending these two sites. Travelers and aspiring writers, curious cats and kitties of all sorts, I think, would get a great deal from them. Over my last couple of months in Antigua this year, I will be working on this project—my new blog—with the hopes of “launching” it before I leave. What better can one say about a piece of writing than it has literally inspired me to change something in my life.

Don't forget to visit my current website/blog, Jonathon Engels: A Life Abroad, for loads of articles and thoughts about travel and being an expat. And, while you're at it, join my Facebook page.

Posted by jonathonengels 09:40 Archived in Guatemala

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