Last night at Borough Belles we had a book themed meeting with 3 fantastic speakers coming to talk about different aspects of book publishing. One of the speakers was Gemma who is curating female travel stories for a upcoming book that she is self-publishing. A Girls’ Guide to Traveling Alone will feature short, non-fiction stories about the pleasures and stresses of travelling alone as a women.
Gemma was inspired by the fact that when she was travelling she couldn’t find the type of travel book she wanted to read by other solo female travellers. This approach really appeals to my DIY ethos and I love the idea of making the book that you couldn’t find when you were on the road. It also combines my two loves of mine – travelling and storytelling.
Part of the reason people travel is for that sense of adventure or having a good story to tell at the end. In fact sometimes I have felt that some people are doing it much more for the story than actually having the experience. Travel writing is a great way to share the joy that you experience but also to acknowledge the aspects that make travelling really hard work sometimes.
Travelling is wonderful and one of my favourite things. I love discovering new parts of countries whether that is here or abroad but there are also elements that are tricky, hard and sometimes down right unpleasant. There are definitely days when I have felt tired, not wanted to repack my backpack for the twentieth time, felt sick or had weird paranoia that the boat/plane/bus you are on should potentially not carry people anymore. There are times when you push yourself to do things you would never do a million years otherwise and I love that it can take you slightly out of yourself.
Experiencing the highs and lows on a trip definitely makes you feel more confident and self-reliant. Some of the issues that came up in the talk last night about emotional resilience, overcoming fear and anxiety about having experiences on your own; how to negotiate tricky or sometimes dangerous situations; kindness of strangers which all felt really familiar. For me when I set off for a trip a couple of years I was really worried about how much I would enjoy it “on my own” but the truth is you always meet amazing people along the way. People who can change your experience on the world.
The challenge for Gemma’s book is selecting the experience you want to talk about and making the story compelling enough. Gemma is aiming for the book to empower by sharing experiences so people might recognise situations or learn ways of handling them in the future. I hope that lots of people share fantastic adventures and also experiment with the way they tell their stories. One of the fantastic thing about the Night of Adventure is how people tell their stories in unique and amazing ways.
If you would like to enter a story, Gemma is looking for entries from social media submissions on Twitter and Facebook. I’d also love to hear if there are women travel writers you really admire. After Gemma’s talk I have been wracking my brain to think of some and have have realised that most of the books I love about travelling are written by men. Female travel writers that I have loved reading include Dervla Murphy, Isabella Bird and Elizabeth Gilbert.
I leave you with a lovely quote from Date A Girl who Travels:
“You’ll also recognize a girl who travels by the fact that she’s always amazed at the world around her, no matter if she’s in her home town or in a place that is totally new. She sees beauty all around her, not just the ones featured in travel guides or shown in postcards.”