Raise your hand if your envious of the travel writer,
the person who enjoys a carefree life of adventure where days are spent visiting exotic locations, meeting colorful and fascinating people, and extolling the delights of charming restaurants, bistros, taverns and historic saloons? When trapped in the mind numbing world of cubicles, power tripping bosses, subsistence level wages, impossible to meet deadlines, or days spent slaving under a broiling sun, it is hard not to. Then, you peek behind the curtain and the cubicle doesn’t seem so bad after all.
I have been telling people where to go for fun and profit since 1990. That has provided my dearest friend and I with endless opportunity for memorable adventures, for meeting wonderful people, and for priceless friendships. On occasion, I have also had mind numbing jobs and endured belittling bosses, often to support the writing habit and ensure that we continue the eating habit.
In all those years, I have yet to meet a writer that pays the bills by writing, or a writer that could imagine doing anything else in life. The fact is, the travel writer writes because they enjoy it, because they have a passion for sharing adventures and for inspiring road trips, and because like the prospector of old or the person who faithfully buys a lottery ticket every week, they can’t help but believe fame and fortune awaits them with the next book. In short, we are dreamers.
We are also passionate and just a bit delusional. We like to think that our writings, and the related projects that we develop to support the writing habit can play a role in making the world a better place to live. As an example, a weekly Facebook live program launched to promote me, the Jim Hinckley’s America brand, and subsequently my books morphed into a community affairs program. Somewhere along the line colorful and interesting presentations developed to draw people to book signings, and as an income supplement, transformed into community development and revitalization venues. A video series developed to further awareness of Jim Hinckley’s America became a means for magnifying the promotional efforts of small rural communities, and to present these overlooked places as fascinating destinations. Next came a podcast.
Enter William Shakespeare. A book can easily consume a year or a year and half, and that is working six hours a day, five or six days a week. More often than not, the advance is less than $10,000. In fact, $5,000 or less is common. If an author has a half dozen books or so in stores, it is possible, but not common, to expect $7,000 or $8,000 from royalties. As the supportive projects such as the podcast, presentations, videos, and other programs grow in scope and reach, more demands are made on my time.
I was literally at the crossroads, a decision had to be made. Abandon some of the projects including those involved with community revitalization initiatives, and focus entirely on pursuit of the dollar through the writing of books, of feature articles, photography, and the making of presentations. Then I read a biography about William Shakespeare and how patrons made it possible for him to focus on his work, and still eat. So, the patrons program was launched. Fast forward to this week.
With support from patrons, I have committed to expanding the Facebook live program. In addition to the weekly community program, there will be short programs from businesses, and over lunch, coffee, or beer with travelers. The idea is to foster a sense of community and community purpose, in Kingman and along the Route 66 corridor. Linked with this will be short videos developed for the Jim Hinckley YouTube channel.
I have also committed to development of the podcast for similar reasons. To that end I have been diligently working to update a computer, install new equipment graciously provided by a patron, and learn how to use it. Likewise with the development of a video series in partnership with MyMarketing Designs (Promote Kingman, Promote Route 66), and expansion of the presentation series that will foster an awareness about the importance of linking tourism with economic development planning.
It can all get quite chaotic at times. I often liken this to juggling cats and chainsaws while riding a unicycle after a long evening spent sampling craft beers. The act is quite entertaining for those who watch. However, it is not for the faint of heart.
Still, I can’t imagine a more enjoyable way of life, especially as I am fortunate enough to have a very dear friend that is supportive, and that is as much a thrill seeker as me. I am also fortunate to have people who believe enough in my endeavors to provide the needed support.
So, do you still dream of becoming a travel writer?