In the past week alone, when I’ve been asked about my profession I’ve been as honest as possible and told them, “I’m a travel writer. I barely make enough money to pay for groceries each week, but I love what I do.” Three people this past week have replied enthusiastically, saying, “Travel writing is like my dream job.” One of them actually took a travel writing course in her spare time. She’s a lawyer, the second is a doctor, and the third was interviewing me for a part-time teaching position at the University of Phoenix. When I told them exactly how much I make per day writing about travel, they quickly understand why it is “like [their] dream job” – and will likely be nothing more than a dream, as it really isn’t a realistic kind of professional pursuit.
Nights like tonight firmly cement this kind of thinking. I just got back from a social networking function that was hosted by Pacific Edge, the magazine that published my article about my trip to Vanuatu. As I walked around the room introducing myself as the travel writer that wrote the article in the very magazine they were holding, they stared at me blankly. They clearly had not read my article and probably had no intention of reading it.
Despite knowing it all along I’ve finally come to terms with the grim reality of being a travel writer. When I started out as one about two years ago, I was so excited about my newfound “profession.” It was something I always dreamed about. Admittedly, it is something most people dream about but that a small percentage of people actual pursue. An even smaller percentage are actually successful with it.
Conversations like the ones I had with these travel writing dreamers and evenings like the one I just endured make me realize one important thing though: at least I’m living my dream. At least I wake up every morning excited about the world and what I do. I never could see myself holding a high-paying corporate job like many of my friends too. I’m pretty content being a hard-working, poor but happy travel writer who tells stories that are at the heart of the human experience.