I’m going to England this summer for a friend’s wedding, and afterward, my friend, S, and I will hop around Europe for two weeks, so I have been thinking a lot about travel writing, trying to wrap my mind around it, and trying to fit it into my writing life.

David Miller from Matador Network wrote a piece called “Travel Writing at Ground Level,” in which he explains the idea of Ground Level writing as putting god in the details. This is also true for fiction writing. But then the article highlights the value of reporting and warns against the haziness of attaching POV to travel pieces. So, travel writing is to be stripped of POV?

photo by mikebaird on Flickr

This concept is a complete 180 from how the synapses fire for fiction or creative non-fiction. When studying creative narrative in my MFA program, I have lived through years of reaffirmation of the idea of writing from a POV. Story characters have filters, just like real people have filters. One character looking at a deserted ghost town would notice different things than another character. Memories are called up. Fears are tugged. The idea of telling stories through POV filters is so ingrained in me that I need to be super aware of writing with another goal in mind. Travel writing, being a form of journalism, draws strength from objectivity. Thinking about writing from this perspective might befuddle fiction-biased minds. It’s like that ballerina that spins one way for some people and a different way for others. For me, the ballerina naturally spins to the right, but if I concentrate hard enough, she turns the other way, just like that.

Now, my question is, is there a type of writing out there that is in between? Is there a type of filtered travel writing? A creative non-fiction travel writing? Or does it simply become creative non-fiction? I generally don’t like thinking about writing in categories, but I’m trying to capture a vague thought here.

Does anybody know of a travel journal that focuses not on the places themselves but on the traveler’s experience of them? Bill Bryson’s books, maybe? Anybody?

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