Don George on Travel Writing,
Blogging & “Working for Exposure”
Don George is a legend in the travel writing world, and has been for more than a quarter of a century now.
His resume reads like an aspiring travel writer’s bucket list: Since getting his first full-time gig at the San Francisco Examiner back in 1980, he’s served as a travel editor for the San Francisco Chronicle, Salon.com, Lonely Planet, National Geographic Traveler and BBC.com. He literally wrote the book on travel writing– appropriately titled Travel Writing– and he’s edited more than a half-dozen literary travel anthologies (including Lonely Planet’s latest collection, An Innocent Abroad).
Perhaps even more impressive than his accomplishments as a writer and editor, Don has invested an impressive amount of time and energy into education and nurturing up-and-coming writers and bloggers. Not only through the Bay Area’s annual Book Passage Travel Writers and Photographers Conference, of which he is co-founder and chairman, but also through his speaking engagements and workshops at conferences such as TBEX.
Coincidentally, the first time I met Don was after my own appearance at TBEX as part of the Opening Keynote Session on Responsible Travel in Cancun last September. He was one of the first people to come up on stage and congratulate me on a job well done, which– given the fact that GGT was partially inspired by my love of National Geographic– was deeply humbling. I later attended his session on Travel Writing, where his passion for the craft of storytelling and his earnest desire to help bloggers become better writers proved incredibly infectious.
On the last day of the conference, Mary and I noticed Don and Tim Leffel, whom we’d also met the day before, having dinner with our friends David and Veronica James (a.k.a. The GypsyNesters). On our way out of the restaurant, we stopped by their table to say goodnight, and they insisted we join them for drinks and dessert. We talked about travel, writing and the future of blogging for hours, and I knew then that I needed to talk to Don more in-depth for GGT’s Interviews series.
What follows are the highlights of our hour-long conversation, which veered from his earliest travel memories and the beginning of his career as a travel writer to his thoughts on how bloggers are impacting the landscape and advice for those wanting to break into the freelance writing world. It’s a long one, so grab a cup of coffee (or beer) and settle into a comfy chair for a conversation with the coolest Travel Editor you will ever meet… Continue reading