Madrid

I’m a liar

OK just a few posts ago I went on on about the advantages of being alone. How it hightens the senses, builds character, pushes you out of your comfort zone. Well Mother Nature must have read my post and thought to herself, “oh really, Tracy? You love being alone? Alright then I´ll put a hurricane in New York of all places so that your boyfriend won´t be able to meet you on time, and you´ll get lots of extra time alone.”

First off, I hope everyone is safe in New York and New Jersey (yes, I care about New Jersians too) and that there isn´t extreme damage. I know people are getting effected far worse then I am, but this is my blog and if I can´t be self-absorbed here, where can I be? Just when I was starting to think I would go crazy being alone for another day, and the only thing that was cheering me up was thinking I would see Mike soon, I find out that no planes are leaving the northeast coast. I go out to dinner and I´m surrounded by loving couples spoon feeding each other and I just want to smack them. I´m remembering what it was like to be single.

I left Salamanca yesterday and arrived in Madrid around 5. It´s a great city, but I don´t think I´m giving it much of a chance because I´m walking aroung with a cloud over my head. I was supposed to meet Mike Sunday morning and then we would go to San Sebastian together. Since he won´t be arriving until the day we were supposed to leave San Sebastian, I guess that´s off. I could go alone, but I´m tired of doing romantic things alone. Drinking a bottle of wine is romantic when your with your boyfriend, but it´s just sad when you´re by yourself. I want to be angry at someone. It be so much easier to curse someone off, but it´s just nature, and you can´t get angry about that. Or at least it´s pointless. Damn you wind and rain!

That said, at least I learned something about myself. As much as I love traveling, I prefer being with people I love. If a genie said, ¨I´ll give you $10,000 so you can travel around Asia by yourself right now, or I´ll let you have one night to snuggle up watching Dexter with Mike.¨ I think I´d have to take the latter.

Well I´m sure I´ll be in a better mood soon. Sorry for whining.

I´m staying at the Cat´s Hostel which is the quintessential hostel. My room has 14 other people. Everyone´s here to party and get laid. I don´t know where they´re expecting to get laid when there´s only bunk beds and your neighbors are about 6 inches away from you, but perhaps they´re more creative than I am. The hostel is a converted arabic style mansion from the 1800s, so there´s an amazing central area (I´m forgetting my architectural terms) with a fountain and original tile. Right now I´m typing in the dungeon. I assume it´s an old wine cellar but the walls are painted black and there´s a low vaulted ceiling.

Yesterday I went to the Prado. It was amazing to see Las Meninas and Garden of Earthly Delights in person. Also Caravaggio´s The Decension was there on loan. I think it´s really strange how people look at paintings from a distance. I´m always standing as close as possible to see the brush strokes and what colors the artists used, and the different techniques. I´m the person the guard is always yelling at to step away from the painting. But you can´t see all those details in a textbook. In one the paintings of a bunch of saints, one of the saints looked exactly like Robert Downey Jr. It makes me think that he was indeed a Saint, and he sold his soul to the devil to be a famous actor for all of eternity. Think about it, Iron Man would have ruined any thesbian´s career, and yet, he pulled it off somehow. He´s had more comebacks than, well, I don´t know. hmmm.

Well this gave me a story idea, so afterward I went to a cafe and wrote 20 pages of the outline. Yes, I was drinking red wine, yes, the streets were coblestone, and yes, there were people next to me smoking and philosophizing, so I guess I had a pretty European evening.

Spain Travel Narrative

I’m leaving for Spain today! I’ve always wanted to go, so now I’m doin’ it. For a whole month! First I’ll be taking a two week Spanish course in Salamanca at Don Quijote language school. I’ll be living with a host family, which I’ve never done before, and honestly that scares me. Hopefully we’ll get along. Afterward my boyfriend, Mike, will be meeting me in Madrid. We’ll take the train to San Sebastian, then Barcelona, Granada, and Cordoba. Muy Bien.

from About Spain Travel blog

OK, here’s where the challenge comes in. Traveling is one of the things that supports my HeSo. And I’m supposed to be finding ways to get paid to do what I love. The obvious answer is travel narrative. So how do I become the next Bill Bryson, or Elizabeth Gilbert? The truth is I’ve been to some pretty crazy places, and experienced amazing wonders. I took a plane ride around Mt. Everest, I swam in a bio-luminescent bay in Vieques where the water glows neon green when you touch it, I had Shabbot dinner with an 11 person family in Vienna who I met only an hour before. I’ve been to Nicaragua 10 times. My family bribed a guard to get into Catherine the Great’s Palace in Russia. So how the heck do I get paid to tell these stories?

A picture I took at 30,000 ft in the air

Well let’s be realistic. Publishers are not going to be knocking down my door to give me a book deal when I come back from Spain. So what are the baby steps?

I visited a great site called The Travel Writer’s Life. In an article titled, Go Magazine Editor Orion Ray-Jones on the Kinds of Travel Articles that Glue and Editor to the Page, Christina Merchant interviews the editor, Orion Ray-Jones. Here’s what he says about how to get published:

Be original. Bring me topics that will surprise and intrigue me, and develop innovative ways to present them, both in terms of how you report the story and how you structure the language. That first-person travelogue of syrupy, adjective-laden writing about a Tuscan wine tour is too painful to bear. I know there’s wine in Italy, and unless you’re famous, I’m not interested in your diary about tasting it. Surprise me! There are so many bad clichés in travel; avoid them.

An article by Bonnie Caton said that the best way to get published is to write something unique about a small town. In other words, editors are overwhelmed with stories about wine tasting in Tuscany, finding love in Paris, and art in Barcelona, but they don’t get many interesting stories about the Socrates Sculpture garden in Astoria. That’s good to know, but it’s not going to help me right before my trip to Spain.

That got me thinking. Can I write a local story about traveling? I started looking up the American sister cities for the cities I’m visiting in Spain. It turns out Madrid and NYC are sister cities. And so my goal is to write and sell a story about similarities and differences between NYC and Madrid.

Roy Stevenson, gives these steps in his article, How Long Does it Take to Sell your First Travel Story:

1. Collect every bit of information you get, and take a ridiculous amount of photos. You might think you’ll remember everything, but you won’t. Editors love when you supply your own pictures. Make sure you take many different angles. You might take only close ups, but the editor might want the look of wide open vistas.

2. Create a long list of all the travel journals, magazines and websites that you would like to sell to, and send the query letter to all of them. Yes, all of them.

3. Be fearless. The only way to get published is to keep putting yourself out there. No one is going to read stories off of your laptop. Or at least they’re not going to pay you to do so.

So this is going to be my first attempt at making some HeSo money. Wish me luck!