Imagine if your epic travels were published in a book for all to enjoy. If you’ve ever wanted to be an author, you’ll love this month’s travel job feature. Down to earth Graham Field, author of In Search of Greener Grass, and his latest release Ureka, kindly shares his honest account of what it’s really like to be an author. He also provides his tips and advice for any aspiring writers, as well as a glance into his exciting travels.
Graham doesn’t have a job that allows him to travel as such. In fact it’s more his travels that afford him his passion of writing. Read on to find out why…
Life as a Traveller
Q. You won the money for your trip to Mongolia on Deal or No Deal. What inspired you to visit this part of the world?
I live in Essex. If you look on a world population map Essex is coloured red, along with Manhattan Island, Hong Kong, Delhi. So for me the thrill and awe is to be surrounded by nothing; untamed, untouched landscape. In Mongolia if Genghis Khan were to come back the only different he would notice in 1,000 years would be the little solar panels attached to 12 volt batteries outside the white canvas yurts.
Q. When you’re not on the road travelling or writing, you install kitchens and bathrooms. You then use the money you earn to part fund trips. How do you cope with returning to ‘normality’?
I am experiencing the closest to contentment in my life I ever have. Experience has finally taught me a few lessons. I like my trips to be about 100 days long – not so many experiences that I can still recall little moments, like taking a wrong turn in Armenia and school children waving through the yellow peeling rusty railings of a playground, their smiles, enthusiasm and awe. That image is not diluted by all the other images of a longer road trip.
I love my little house but like anything in life, familiarity can make you complacent. When my tenant moves out and I move back in, I appreciate it all the more. There are high prices to pay for this lifestyle but I happen to think the rewards are worth the sacrifice, and if I don’t take advantage of my freedom then the price I paid to get it was too high.
Q. Would you ever want to live a nomadic lifestyle on the road?
On a good day when I awake after a deep sleep, to look out of my tent at a sunrise that’s just for me, to boil water on the rekindled embers of last night’s fire, and pack up and ride into the fresh warmth of a new day further into an unknown land… yes, I want to live that nomadic, romantic, simplistic life forever.
Then on days when I’m soaked through, ripped off in a flea bag hotel and doors bang all night, and the next day is still grey and my clothes are still damp…no. What gives me the appreciation of my own place is a long hot bath followed by some good sounds coming out the speakers as I sit by the log burner knowing that the bike is safe and dry in the garage.
Life As An Author
Q. Did you always want to be an author?
Yes, always. There is a book called ‘What Color Is Your Parachute?’. It’s kind of a self help, find your destiny sort of book. After I did all the exercises the formula said I was meant to be a travel author. And now 14 years later I am.
Q. How and when did you decide to start writing?
I’ve always kept a diary. My travel reports progressed from message cassette tapes, to mass emails, to blog to book. I have and still do write for my personal enjoyment.
Q. How do you go about writing a book?
I look at the photos to recall the sites, terrain and weather. I use the voice recorder to hear my mood (elated, scared, bored, indecisive or tired) – the voice like the mirror tells no lies. It gives a sincere reference of how I felt that moment of that day.
I write for about 12 hours, scribbling on post-it notes when something occurs to me that isn’t relevant to the moment I’m writing about. For the last book I slept on the floor in the lounge as it was the warmest room due to the addition of a log burner. In the night if a flash of brilliance ignited a restless mind I wrote it down. Sometimes I wrote from 2am to dawn and then slept a few more hours. The time on the clock means little, in fact it feels almost rebellious to work, eat and sleep when the body craves not when the clock dictates.
Q. Your two books tell the tales of two amazing trips. When you first start planning a trip do you have an idea of how you’d like your stories to unfold?
Absolutely not. Both books are written in diary format as I’ve kept a diary daily for 25 years. The books don’t start with the attention grabbing hook or the big drama; the book unfolds day by day as journeys do. Readers have said they feel like they’re riding with me, feeling the emotions and experiencing the moment as it occurs.
Q. Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring authors?
Read blogs to see what inspires and what is just plain dull. A Dictaphone or voice recording app on your phone is handy to capture that inspired thought as it occurs.
Photos of a new country are best taken in the first few days, before the unusual becomes common place. Those are the photos that will transport you back there and evoke memories and help with descriptive text.
You need discipline to write daily. Go to bed an hour earlier so that you can get up an hour earlier. Momentum is what turns half a page of scribbled line into a book. You also need belief that it can be done. Don’t listen to the naysayers, actually that applies to anything in life.
Be careful; there are rogue publishing companies out there who make money from the services they sell you, not from the number of books they sell for you. The path to publishing a book is harder than any journey I have every taken, but it’s what I have always wanted to do. To write and tell people about the way I see the world as I travel through it is my dream come true.
Q. Would you recommend being an author as a ‘travel job’?
Yes, it’s the best form of poverty I know.
Q. What’s the best part of being an author?
Regardless of how much money and time the book owes me. I receive a message that says, ‘I’ve been riding motorcycles for years and have never been out the country. After I read your book I booked a ferry and went into Europe.’ And that’s it, right there, the priceless reward. I love that my words have inspired.
Big thanks to Graham for sharing his insights with us. You can follow his adventures and enjoy more honest chats in his latest book, Ureka. Even for non-motorcyclists (like me) it’s a great travel read.
Do you want to incorporate your love of travel with passion for writing? Have you enjoyed today’s post? I’d love to hear from you.
There are plenty of other options to make your travel job dream a reality. Every month I’ll share suggestions and insights through interviews with real people – people who are actually travelling the world, or part of it, through their job. Visit the ‘Travel Jobs‘ section of Taylor Hearts Travel to discover more.