HOW ONE NEVER-BEFORE-PUBLISHED TRAVEL WRITER LANDED A BI-WEEKLY TRAVEL COLUMN
An Interview with AWAI student Judy Ruck by Lori Appling
LA: Before we get started why don’t you tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?
JR: I am “from” a variety of places. I was raised in the Midwest, spent 17 years in Newport, RI, and have resided in Arizona for the last 15 years.
Prior to February 2004, I was a learning disabilities consultant. I was ready for a major lifestyle change, and the information I read about The Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop in Paris hooked me.
LA: What attracted you to Travel Writing? Had you ever considered being a Travel Writer before you saw our course?
JR: When our work schedules allow, my husband and I enjoy all types of travel. Actually I never thought much about becoming a travel writer but rather a travel agent. That was only wishful thinking.
I expected to come away from the workshop being able to write well enough so that magazine editors would seek me out. That hasn’t happened yet but still, I attended the course with great expectations, and they are now being fulfilled.
LA: You’ve recently had some success getting published and I hear you talked a local editor into giving you your own bi-weekly travel column. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
JR: With a little nerve, but without being pushy, I approached a newspaper editor in my hometown. The paper has a circulation of 65,000 but did not have a travel column. I soon convinced him that the newspaper and its readers needed one! The editor wanted to see my clips but I didn’t have any. I suggested to him that I submit a few articles strictly on speculation. He agreed, and I went home and reworked a story I started in Paris. I also submitted an article about a bus ride in Barcelona. He liked both ideas, and now I have a biweekly column in that newspaper.
LA: What other travel writing projects are you currently working on?
JR: Tom Schueneman, editor of The Traveler and former course graduate, recently published one of my articles, “Getting a Fix of America in Paris.”
In addition to my biweekly column, France Today, which is published 10 times a year, has agreed to publish two of my articles. One is about a Sunday dinner in Paris and the other is on a French actor I had the luck to interviewAnd I do mean luck! With a phone call to a Paris production company I was able to finesse my way into an interview with the actor while he was on the set. My husband went along as my assistant and camera person. It eventually all came together.
LA: What specifically about the travel writing workshop do you think helped you so much? Why would you recommend it to others?
JR: I cherish the information Jen Stevens, Steenie Harvey and John Forde presented at the workshop and continuously refer to all the valuable information contained in the workbook. They gave me such a great understanding about the importance of “hooking” the reader right from the start with those first critical sentences. In addition, I only write about places I have been and rarely include myself in the article. My goal is for readers to put themselves in the articles I write.
LA: What advice would you give to new students who haven’t yet had an article published?
JR: Don’t ever give up. If you derive pleasure from travel writing, keep writing. Always maintain a positive attitude. Eventually your article will sell.
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]