Category: "writing"

What’s to be done with the present tense and its unending popularity among travel writers and editors? In 2001, in his introduction to The Best American Travel Writing, Paul Theroux was already denouncing it, calling it “precious, self-regarding, a distraction.” It had been years since Theroux had taught, so he was unaware that it is also anathema to writing teachers, who spend a good deal of their time changing verbs from past to present in stories by students who forget that they started out in present and inevitably move to the more natural, and accurate, past tense (often before subconsciously reverting to present again). Life would be so much easier for everyone – students, teachers, readers – if travel stories were told in retrospect. Travel writers, we know you survived your journey, otherwise we wouldn’t have your words about it, so don’t pretend you’re still out there. And travel editors, free your writers – and readers – from the present. Unlike the past, it has never been called ‘a foreign country.’

By Thomas Swick • Category: Americans, writing

true

12/01/17 09:41

A true travel writer would rather write a memorable line than see an unforgettable sight. (I remind myself of this as I sit at my desk and gaze at friends' photos on Facebook.)

By Thomas Swick • Category: writing

I got a rejection on Giving Tuesday.

By Thomas Swick • Category: writing

Every once in a while I shoot off emails to all the editors holding my stories, inquiring about their status. Then I get up and move away from the computer, as if from a wasps’ nest I have recklessly disturbed.

By Thomas Swick • Category: writing

A few days ago I read over for a final time a piece that an editor had requested. I had a nagging feeling that something was missing in the lead. I thought about it for a few minutes and then a light went on. I typed in a parenthetical remark consisting of three words. Two of them – they were connected by an ‘and’ – immediately became my favorite words of the piece, two of the best words I’ve written all year. Not just because of their appropriateness but their symmetry. The delight I got from coming up with them has lasted (clearly) through the week.

By Thomas Swick • Category: writing

It’s a tough time for freelancers who aren’t writing about Trump or sexual harassment (ideally both).

By Thomas Swick • Category: writing