Thursday, 27 October 2016

A Sense of Place 4 - 'Nets' by Philippa Hawley

Travel writing can be a short diversion or part of a long journey. The resulting pieces can be short or extended, resembling either flash fiction or a longer short story. Travelling may give rise to an article or even result in a book.
    For example, Bill Bryson, well known for his ‘Notes from a Small Island’, started off as a newspaper column writer, before writing ‘A Walk in the Woods’. This was about walking the Appalachian Trail with his friend and was, in 2015, made into a film. Another who used travel for inspiration was Chris Stewart, with ‘Driving over Lemons’, descibed as an optimist in Andalucia.
    As a student, one of the first travel writing books I became aware of was Eric Newby’s ‘A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush’. Written in 1958 this adventure, told with British humour, captured many a young person’s imagination over the following decades.
    Sometimes however our aims are less ambitious. It’s great to record our travels, and maybe use a diary to detail the sequence of events. Alongside that, it can be interesting to focus in on one small thing – a meal, a sight, or a character you met. This might ‘show’ the feelings you experienced while away from home, rather than ‘telling’ the reader every step you took. It might also keep your memories alive.
    This is the approach I took in entering a recent travel competition, which asked for a 50-100 word travel highlight. My 94 word piece called ‘Nets’ can be seen here. Re-reading it, I am immediately taken back to the beautiful Monte Isola, on Lake Iseo in Northern Italy. Have a look at the published story: