It may sound odd, but when I embarked on the Writers Bureau course a good few years back, I had no idea what being published really entailed. I honestly thought in my naivety that you could write what the hell you liked and someone would be up for publishing it. Oh, how wrong I was! Writing is a craft like any skill and the world of publishing is a tricky and complicated business. So, I was very quickly going to have to learn how to do it well and how to do it right to even have a smidge of a chance.
First and foremost, throw the ego out the window and write the masterpiece in your spare time. The money is going to come from the hours you spend on targeted articles and other freelance work.
Improve your acceptance rate by researching the markets you want to write for.
Hone your writing skills so the style you use and the content you produce is suitable.
Then, spend the time to review and revise.
It goes without saying - be reliable and professional. The majority of freelance work is recommendation by word of mouth.
Follow guidelines when submitting. There are times to be maverick, but this is not one of them.
Keep your options open.
And finally, be prepared to work and work and work - sometimes at the most unsociable of hours!
That being said, you must ALWAYS stay true to yourself. As I tweeted earlier this week: "There's a lot of (hash tag)writing advice out there but I believe it's mostly about instinct. Based on that, I'll either win or fail (hash tag)thatisall."
Back to Tanzania now for Number 20 of "29 of the best", this time in the north and camping on the Ngorongoro crater rim. It wasn't as comfortable as Bots - no beds, no loos with views and only cold water to wash away the dust in a grimy shower block - but the location was incredible. Pictures don't do it justice and neither do words. Just go there to see it to believe it!
Luckily nothing snuffled through our tent that night, but the ladies next to us had a warthog going for their shampoo. It's a local tipple don't you know...
Bizarrely, there was mobile phone reception right down in the middle of the crater, so I was texting the wildlife feast before me to Colin. I don't necessarily think this is a good (ethical) thing but, at the time, having cheetahs lounging all over our vehicle took my breath away. To be that close...
Before I hit you with number 20 on the list, here's a recap of 29 to 21...
29: Family time in Albufeira, Portugal
28: Celebrating Songkran Festival in Bangkok, Thailand
27: Wild Dogs in Mikumi, Tanzania
26: Microlighting over Vic Falls, Livingstone, Zambia
25: Wild camping in Botswana
24: Sibling time in Brittany, France
23: Clubbing in Belgrade, Serbia
22: Entering a pyramid in Cairo, Egypt
21: Walking safari in Mlilwane Game Reserve, Swaziland
In October 2006, I took my mum and big sis on their first ever safari to South Africa and we also had a couple of nights mid-tour in the little Kingdom of Swaziland. The King had just married his 13th or 14th wife when we arrived - imagine that! We stayed in these funky beehive huts and took a walking safari out in the game reserve. We saw plenty of what I call "tame game" - antelope, zebra, wildebeest, that sort of thing - no big cats because Mlilwane doesn't cater to any. The danger on this safari were the crocs, but I'm pleased to report we didn't have any casualties. The whole experience whet my appetite for more adventurous walking safaris like the ones being offered in Ikoma, Tanzania... On the way out of Swaziland, we stopped at Swazi Candles craft shop and watched the workers making these beautiful animal shaped candles. I just had to buy some!
As a kid, you study the Egyptians countless times at school, so how chuffed do you think I was when, in May 2008, I realised a childhood dream of mine - to go inside a pyramid... I had 48 hours in Cairo and a hotel inspection list as long as my arm, but I had to see those pyramids. Being able to walk around inside, just me and my guide, was incredible - even if the stench of ammonia and the 40 degree + heat was unbearable. I was beside myself with excitement! On that trip I also got to see the Spinx, some beautiful hieroglyphics (which have always fascinated me) and the legendary burial mask of Tutankhamun. I barely scratched the surface of this magical country, but it just made me want to go back for more and more and more. And I will!
Hot clubbing prediction for you coming in at 23 - Belgrade is where it's at! Wait for Easy jet to start flying in and it'll be full of hen and stag parties and Irish bars in no time... We explored the club scene whilst we were there in October last year. People open up their basements for parties, but I also loved the regular nightclubs. Great beats, buzzing atmosphere and interesting concepts in a city where, despite its recent history, I felt strangely alive. An interesting fact for you - the Serbs are a very tall race. I felt like a midget in comparison. Also check out this Supermarket Concept Store in Belgrade by studio reMiks. Pretty darn innovative :)
Drank the best pina colada in the world this weekend people. OMG, it was delicious! Head on over to Guanabara, a fab Brazillian club in London if you wish to experience it...
Ok, so on with the countdown and rewinding all the way back to June 1998 now. We took a family camping holiday with Sunsites to Brittany, France and I remember one of the last days we were there, my siblings and I headed down to a little beach we'd uncovered earlier on in the 2 weeks. Like most things that happened more than a day ago, I don't remember much of what we talked about, but I do remember that we sat on the rocks there (in the heat of the day - couldn't do that now!) for a good 4 or 5 hours chatting and watching the tide go right out and then come all the way back in again. When you're young and your brother and sisters are always around, you don't really appreciate one another. You fight with each other, annoy each other, shout, laugh, cry... yet I can honestly say, hand on heart, for those precious few hours we spent together we were all the best of the friends.
Really laughing my head off at Miranda Series 2 guys and girls, and also really enjoying the camaraderie between Indie authors on Twitter this week. I've made so many new friends and I can't wait to have time to delve into their work.
Now, back to my 29 of the best... Still in November 2005 and sticking with my favourite continent Africa, we stayed in some of the most beautiful lodges during a "flash" trip through Zambia and Botswana - flash because we zoomed around a lot of Bots in just a week and we were also reccing a new in style tour - but my highlight was actually the 1 night we wild camped. 3 things you can't beat when you're camping on safari - a loo with a view, a glorious bucket shower to wash away the sweat and the sand and the dust, and drinking beers around the fire under a jet black African sky. It was magical. That same day, we'd driven very very slowly through a dense herd of elephants, just us and the elephants and they were so close, you could reach out and touch them. I didn't take pictures because I didn't want to startle them, but that intimate encounter will stay with me forever. Words cannot do it justice.
Enjoy the piccies!
An early morning microlight flight over Victoria Falls... Let the pics do the talking... SIMPLY INCREDIBLE
We'd flown all over Southern Tanzania in our 5-seater Cessna, spoilt for choice game driving in the Selous, Ruaha, Mufindi and next up Mikumi. This would be the final stop before flying north to Arusha to see and experience the busier safari circuit. As soon as we got off the plane in Mikumi, our driver-guide whisked us on a mini, private safari en route to the lodge. Sightings of wild dog were crackling over the radio and we found the pack after a little while. I don't really remember much of the event other than that I sat and took it all in, appreciating the spectacle. This trip was my introduction to game viewing in Africa (a tiger safari in Sariska, India had whet my appetite the previous year) and I was loving (absolutely loving!!!) every moment of it. I had expected to see lions and some of the other Big 5, but certainly not wild dogs. Those unexpected, unplanned happenings are always the best.
Blogging is an amazing concept so here I am giving it a whirl. You'll get words. You'll get pics. Sometimes a vid or two. You'll get tongue in cheek, the odd humble opinion and an honest insight into my travels and writing life. Maybe even a few gems along the way. I'll be musing on home turf as I see more and more of the UK and sharing my experiences further afield on holidays and adventurous trips across the globe.