This was the ‘About Me’ post for the former incarnation of this blog ‘Every Notable Patch of Grass in Romania’, which was retired when my Lonely Planet assignment wound down and I prepared to abandon my post in Romania for travel and the culinary delights of Italy
Well, in truth, I’m not traveling through and writing about all of Romania. I have a co-author – actually a “coordinating author,” kind of like a senior author – who is in on the plot. His name is Robert and he is doing that hell-hole Bucharest and all of Transylvania. I’m doing everything else, that being the regions of Moldavia, Northern Dobrogea, Wallachia, Crisana, Banat, Maramures and the entire country of Moldova.
Geographically, I’m doing the doughnut and he’s doing the hole. But it’s quite a hole, as Transylvania is tourism ground-zero in Romania and every little grouping of houses has parlayed their resources to appeal to tourists in some fashion and all of that needs to be visited and written about. So, even though my physical territory is much, much larger, in terms of word count, I am writing just under half the book. Got that?
My work will go into three different LP books; “Europe on a Shoestring” (just a paltry few pages there), “Eastern Europe” (slightly more) and “Romania and Moldova” (the entire book, obviously). The work on Shoestring and Eastern Europe are due at the beginning of June, the Rom and Moldova book, in September, though I hope to be done long before then. The books will hit stores in January and June of 2007.
As this is my first time out for LP, I’ve got a massive learning curve to plod through. I’ve only ever had to do one city at a time before this for magazine articles, able to lollygag around the area for five days, often staying gratis in five-star hotels, to leisurely gather my research and absorb the atmosphere. Now I’m racing through several cities a day (visiting every notable patch of grass, per the title of this blog) and getting sparing sleep at whatever broken down hostel is nearest my location when it gets dark.
LP has already flown me to a very productive new author seminar in London and between that and my limited experience, I’ll just have to wing it. My sole advantage is that I am already a resident of Romania, meaning I can retreat to my apartment in Iasi to rest or break up the trip whenever I need to. Usually, authors just bulldoze through their assigned countries, taking notes, thousands of digital photos and collecting a suitcase full brochures, maps and business cards, then sort it all out after they return home. Sounds like a blast, eh? Well, the upshot is the experience is invaluable and the pay is reasonably good. I’d have to pitch my ass off to dozens of magazines and travel to three or four different cities each month to earn the same wage freelancing. Both approaches have their pluses and minuses. I already know I like magazine work. I’ll let you know about this guidebook stuff in June, if I live to coherently tell the tale.