Thursday, September 20, 2012

Letting Go of a Dream

I am stepping away from my dream of being a travel writer.

Wait. Hear me out.

This is not a "boo-hoo-poor-me" post. Far from it. I've been asking myself some hard questions and reevaluating my long- and short-term goals. I've been asking myself what I really want.

When I was single, the idea of being a travel writer seemed practically perfect in every way. I knew I wanted to write, and I knew I wanted to travel. What else did I need to know? I could get paid to travel! What more could I possibly want???

(Yes, the excessive question marks are necessary. They are meant to evoke a feeling of anxiety in the reader--aka you--as well as to show the impractical idealism inherent in the aforementioned "dream" and the dangers of expecting two goals cobbled together to be a worthy lifetime goal.)

(Maybe I've done too much literary analysis lately...)

Anyway, maybe you can see where this idea could go wrong. If you can't, I'll tell you something that it has taken me a year to learn: Just because I like traveling and I like writing does not mean I like the genre of travel writing.

Photo by brewbooks on Flickr
I have never had any desire whatsoever to attempt to persuade readers, in a half-page article, that lying on a beach in Costa Rica is better than lying on a beach in California. Or that they should spend thousands of dollars staying in a wildly extravagant resort in Spain. Or that they should blow their retirement on a one-week cruise. And that's a big part of travel writing.

It would also mean, well, a lot of traveling. Of course, I love traveling, but I love doing it my way. I don't want it to be dictated where I should stay and what I should do and exactly what I needed to write about. I don't want to spend half my life sitting on a plane. I want to have a normal life, with a family. And I want to write what I want to write, not some forced enthusiasm that will sell a cruise or a flight.

Basically, I wanted to avoid the bulk of travel writing and focus on one tiny aspect. I wanted to show people the part of the world they had never thought existed. I wanted to expand people's understanding of other peoples and cultures.

Am I leaving that behind?

Nope. Not at all.

I'm freeing myself. I'm letting myself out of a box--a beautiful box, but still a box--so I can be free to live and write the way I want to. To let my writing be part of the life I want to live, not to force my entire life into a career. No. Other people can find happiness that way, but I can't. I'm getting married, and having a family is now real to me, and I want to be there for them.

Photo by juliejordanscott on Flickr
It was amazing how, as soon as I got engaged, I just let the whole idea of travel writing sort of melt away without consciously thinking about it until the last couple weeks. Neither my fiance nor I want to spend all our time traveling, although we do want to travel as much as we reasonably can. It's almost like I always knew I would never be a travel writer; I just needed the push to realize that it wasn't even what I truly wanted. 

So, you ask, am I just throwing myself into the abyss? Am I going back to square one, where I had no idea what I wanted to do? In a way I am, because I'm opening myself up to new possibilities; most important, the possibility--actually, the probability--that I'll do lots of different kinds of writing throughout my life, and I won't ever limit myself to just one genre.

But that doesn't mean I have no idea what I want to do. Actually, I do have an idea. I'm still playing around with it in my mind, but I'm planning to post about it within the next few days.

This seems like a good time to remind you that I love comments. They seem to be a dying race, though. I blame myself, and I am publicly announcing that I will try harder to write posts that are interesting enough that you might have something to say in reply.


  1. I hope when you do travel you write about how it connects to education or how you changed someone's life in the process.

    1. I do plan on that. I don't want to NEVER write about travel; I just don't want to limit myself to that. I will probably still end up doing some travel writing. That is, I will definitely travel, and I hardly think I'll be able to keep from writing about it. :)

  2. That's all right- I'll do it for you ;) But I'm glad you're not feeling sorrowful about this so much, as happy in finding a new direction. I can't wait to see how your life progresses. I'm so glad we're friends, and you're such an inspiration. Miss you!

    1. Thanks, Kaylee! I totally feel the same way about you. I love stalking your blog and being inspired by you. :)

  3. Does this mean you're changing your major or minors?

    1. Mostly no, but a little bit yes. I'm not changing my major. I hadn't decided exactly my minor(s) yet, but the only one I was sure of (editing) is the only one I'm going to do.

      I'm not totally changing my course. Actually, I am staying on the course I was on, I'm just changing my destination. (I guess you could say I hadn't gotten to the fork I taking this analogy too far?) So anyway, don't worry, I'm not going to be in school for a thousand years because I keep changing my mind. :)