24 Comments
Jul 3Liked by Lottie Gross

Oh my goodness, this is a great read, Sian. As a travel writer and mother of three, it is not the easiest of careers to balance, however, it is very much possible and incredibly rewarding. I do agree with Emma, the judgment I've had for being a travel writer and "abandoning" my children when I go on work trips, despite the fact they have two parents, two sets of adoring grandparents, and I rarely went away for more than five days, maybe once every six to eight weeks, meant that I was a pretty hands-on mother for most of the time. But haters gonna hate. And they have had additional benefit some incredible trips and experiences. It makes me furious when women are judged for their career choices when men get a free rein. Good luck! Sending positive vibes ;-)

And THANK YOU for mentioning Rhonda's brilliant piece on Wayward Wimmin.

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Jul 2Liked by Lottie Gross

Also I love the tweet of the day and Lottie's article about the roundabout. I started out in journalism working on a magazine for fresh produce retailers ... I loved doing profiles of fruit and veg shops in obscure English towns or going out with plum farmers to their orchards, but there were a lot of articles about shelving systems and I once had to write 2,500 words about packaging. These days I wrote about really interesting topics relating to classical music, but I NEVER get word counts of anything like 2,500!

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That sounds like great fun!

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In my fresh produce mag job I often had to go by train from south-east London to places like Mansfield or Pershore or Hull. One day the stationmaster at Denmark Hill gave me a really piercing look and said 'You went somewhere before, didn't you?" I think this was some sort of shorthand for 'You go to places I've never heard of, or that none of my other customers go to ...'

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Jul 2Liked by Lottie Gross

Thank you Sian for your honesty and generosity in sharing your difficult experiences. It's so hard to get the balance between efficiency/reliability and persona; circumstances right, isn't it? Much easier to pretend we're at editors' beck and call 24-7. I'm at a different stage in life from yours but had real qualms recently admitting to a new editor who has taken over one of the mags I write for that I really do prefer to review music from physical CDs if possible, rather than from digital downloads, because I have osteoposoris and RSI, and I find scrolling up and down documents and clicking on different streamed tracks quite painful. Sitting down on a sofa, putting a CD into an old-fashioned machine and letting it run for an hour while I make notes with pen and paper and read the information about it from a printed liner booklet gives me a welcome break from my desktop computer. As soon as I'd pressed 'send' on the email explaining this I wished I hadn't and wondered if I'd be judged unfavourably by someone half my age who lives in a digital world all the time.

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Thanks for reading, Clare! This is exactly right – I think reliability as a freelancer is so important, and I hate when I can't deliver on something I've promised. I actually did email a brilliant editor after I filed this piece because potential travel dates would clash with my ovulation window and she couldn't have been more helpful and supportive. There is space in this industry for empathy!

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I'm very pleased to hear it. Perhaps we all just need to be brave and acknowledge the challenges ... articles like yours will really help. Good luck with everything you hope for!

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Bravery is such a good quality, but I think it's much easier when editors and orgs meet us halfway,. Here's hoping for a positive shift, it's much needed.

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Thank you so much for sharing this piece, to say it is important feels redundant, but I'll mention it anyway. So much of our lives and work is hidden from view, especially when our lives revolve around the words we choose to share. That very process, of carving out paragraph and blending sentence after sentence, masks so much of what is real, whilst we try our hardest to do the opposite, bring the world to the reader in a way which engages, which sticks.

I truly appreciate you sharing this, thank you.

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Even when we write personal essays, there's much that isn't shared.

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Yes! I think that, sometimes, I put more of myself into my fiction than I do in the personal essays I share! Hiding truth in story is an age-old art and mechanism.

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I guess I meant that we carve out zones of personal. That being said, the 70 or so essay publications I've had since August 2021 are pretty personal and say things I never imagined sharing. https://www.levraphael.com/essays.html

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Jul 17Liked by Lottie Gross

“if only those without obligation take commissions and press trips, whose stories are being told? Who is being overlooked? “ Yes, very much this. I’m now an unofficial carer to my elderly mother and these days it’s stressful going off on press trips/travel generally, whether for articles or book research (or even for a break). But I managed to weave my current preoccupation with death /second half of life into a travel piece exploring death culture in Vienna. At least doing it, I felt more aligned with where I am at now….

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The caring situation is so hard isn't it? I really feel for you. Sounds like a really interesting piece btw – where can I read it?

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“…Whose stories are being overlooked?” THIS.

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I ask this question a lot <3

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This is heartbreaking to read because it resonates so profoundly. I'm not a travel writer or anything close, although I'm aspiring to do more writing and I follow your newsletter with keen interest. I played premiership level rugby and competed internationally in power sport whilst trying to conceive, eventually giving it up because it was too hard when internally you are either desperately willing your body to house a baby or you are devasted because your period has arrived. Too many tears shed. I now have a beautiful boy and girl, both IVF babies, both miracles in their own way, but the emotional, physical and hormonal rollercoaster will never leave me, and even now the sight of a pregnant woman makes my heart break, and the sick feeling of desperation to return. I send you all my love and best wishes, and if you ever want to talk about the journey you are on with someone that understands, I would be more than happy to chat.

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Thanks for writing. I cringed when you wrote about the current month travel booking after period comes, because that’s me too 🥹

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What a brilliant, refreshing post. Sending all the good vibes xxxxx

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I am in a very similar position and I really really appreciate this, Sian! I think a lot of people feel like they can’t/shouldn’t share their experience of trying for a baby, let alone how it intersects with their freelance work, so big thanks for throwing light on this.

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So glad you decided to write this Sian, you raise some really important points that I’m sure others out there are struggling with too. It’s very true what you say about certain people’s stories being overlooked without more flexibility available to them. Thanks for sharing your personal experience, wishing you all the best on your journey x

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Thank you, Jennifer! x

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Fascinating story! Blending seemingly disparate lives is a challenge.

When the pandemic came, I felt a burst of creativity because I couldn't/wouldn't travel and many of my personal essays were about memorable trips. I'd published a travelogue/memoir titled My Germany some years before, but travel essays per se were something new for me, and exciting, like this one: https://www.literarytraveler.com/articles/rushing-to-berlin/

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