Today I am talking with Judith Fein, international travel journalist and author of the book Life is a Trip: The Transformative Magic of Travel. (Read her blog posts here.)
Judie, thanks very much for agreeing to participate in my series of interviews of thinkers and practitioners who have ideas that are valuable for the legal profession.
Let's start with your telling us the story of how you became a travel writer. What drew you to this profession?
I had no idea that travel writing was a profession, but I have always been a traveler and a writer. My last incarnation involved writing movies and TV in Hollywood--which everything thinks is very glamorous because you get to party, eat and hang with the Hollywood set, but trust me when I say that for me it was less glam than wearing a cardboard box to observe weeds growing. It sucked the soul out of me--whoosh-- and I rumbled around wondering why I was doing it for l3 years. The actual writing was fine, but the abuse, dysfunction, craziness, and head-banging frustration finally made me say, "Basta." And once I had really basta-ed, I had no idea what else to do for a living. I was, as they say in French, "entree deux chaises," between two chairs. My butt was hanging out uncomfortably, not sure where to sit in life.
One day my sister called and said there was a new travel show on national public radio--called "The Savvy Traveler." I knew it was next-to-impossible to get a gig, but, at my sister's New York-style urging, I recorded a crazy story about what happened when I checked into a monastery for a silent retreat, and ending up having a food fight with a nun and almost getting arrested on a dark road. I sent in the piece, and four days later they called to invite me to be a regular contributor on the show.
Hmm, I thought, after a while. Maybe since i have a national presence I can ask a newspaper if they're interested in one of my travel stories. Bingo! Then I queried other newspapers, magazines, and pretty soon I was a real travel writer. I expanded to the web early on, and have never looked back.
Thanks, Judie. Your response made me think about how I define profession. Most of the readers of this blog are practitioners of the law, a traditional notion of profession. But, now that I think about it, I see the word as including the sense of calling, or the embodiment or product of something you are professing to the world. Of course, many lawyers don't feel called to the practice, and are unhappy. Many of these unhappy, stressed