“Half of all the harm done in this world is due to people who want to feel important.” [T.S. Eliot]
Let me start by saying I find this to be pathologically true whenever I ghost-write for people who are or want to feel very very important. Presidents, ambassadors, cabinet members, CEOs plus an assortment of little and large celebrities. But of all my assignments, the most intoxicating are writing travel brochures. These, my fellow unimportant citizens, are those slick illustrated paeans to the paradisaical beauties of some distant city, country, or best of all island.
Just think about this for a moment. There you sit — on some gray wintry day in Chicago — and you get to weave a tapestry of exotic treats that can lure the reader to plunk down a few grand in order to experience this paradise-on-earth. Like where…? Like anywhere they pay me!
OK, it’s sorta prostituting your Thesaurus for a fee, but what the hell. If your words can create this wonderland for your readers, it’s a no-cost, 10-minute trip to the stars. Of course if they actually decide to pay for a two-week vacation there, well you better hope your superlatives weren’t too far off the mark.
By superlatives I mean the way a travel writer gets to wax eloquent about “the hidden back streets in Greenwich where every night hungry poets feast on their dreams in shadowy step-down cafes,” “secret inlets along this ragged island shoreline hide their daily treasure of Zorba-like fishermen hoisting great Hemingway-fishes from the sea,” “thousand year old fortressed cities peek out at the seen world from the unseen memories of past glory,” and “when you feel the hot white sand and cool blue waves here, every nerve in your citified body realizes that this is the home you’ve been waiting for all your life.”
The check they pay you is nice. What’e evern nicer is this chance to play God. Play her by creating an entire world in less than six days at your very own keyboard. Maybe it would be a better world if more people spent more time writing good things about it. You think…?
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