Today:
*** Writing Lesson Learned from Christopher Columbus
*** Along a Narrow Street in Venice…
*** Practical Writing Prompt of the Week: Write From the Heart
*** Reader Feedback: Last Week in Santa Fe

Dear Reader,

You know the story: Christopher Columbus set sail in 1492 in search of a water route to Asia. He thought he hit India (thus he named the natives “Indians”) but he had actually landed on Cuba and in other parts of the Americas (mostly South and Central).

Turns out that the native people weren’t the only thing Columbus misnamed. When he landed in the New World he also named the local chiles “chile peppers” because they spiced up his food like the pepper did.  It wasn’t until nearly 200 years later that botanists figured out that chiles aren’t actually peppers at all. They belong to an entirely different botanical family.

Today, people use both terms interchangeably. Folks in Santa Fe — where I spent last week for our Ultimate Photographer’s Workshop — call them chiles.  But you, like me, probably call them chile peppers or chili peppers or even chille peppers — depending on which dictionary you use to check your spelling. (By the way, the same story holds true for bell peppers, jalepeno peppers, and the like — none are actually peppers. They’re all chiles.)

So why am I telling you this?  Because things like this can create problems for travel writers. It did for me last week. Here’s why…

In Santa Fe, the workshop attendees and I got a quick history lesson about chiles from the Executive Chef at the Coyote Café. (By the way, travel writers heading to Santa Fe should know that at dinner time in the Coyote Café there are four seats set up at the bar where you can sit and watch the artists prepare your food. Executive Chef, Benjamin Hargett, says that he talks to the folks in those seats and will happily give them a quick history lesson, with tastings, of his beloved chiles. So if you’re writing an article about Santa Fe, and you want to know more about the food scene, reserve a spot at the counter. The folks there know their stuff. They’ve authored 16 books and cookbooks on Santa Fe food.)

Anyway, back to my story. After our lesson in chiles, I went back to my hotel room and wrote the next day’s eletter. If you missed it last Friday, you’ll find it here: True or False? Cayenne Pepper Keeps Your Feet Warm.

In that note, I talked about the chile lesson and named the restaurant where I’d picked up this bit of historical/culinary intelligence. So far so good.

But then things began to go wrong.

When I finished with the issue, I sent it to an editor for a quick read before asking someone else back in the office to send it out.  The computer spell-check doesn’t like the word chile spelled with an E instead of an I. I didn’t tell my editor I’d put it that way for a reason. (And, given that I’d sent it to her late at night, she probably figured I’d mistyped it.) So she changed all my references — turning “chile” into “chili pepper.”

And that’s the way it went out.

When I opened the published issue, I felt like an idiot. Well, really I felt angry — because I was going to look like an idiot to anybody who knew — as I did — the distinction between chile and chili pepper.

Now, it’s not that big a deal. After all, people — as I said earlier — use the terms interchangeably. But it doesn’t change the fact that I know better. And it’s my name that’s on that piece.

My point here is this: Editors change things. Usually for the better. But sometimes they introduce errors.

Once, in a piece I’d written about a shuttle service, the editor deleted a sentence that explained you needed to make a reservation in advance. Several readers wrote in to complain about my coverage. They’d shown up unannounced and couldn’t get a ride.  Talk about frustrating. For those travelers. And for me.

Here’s the thing, though: I probably could have avoided both situations had I simply done a couple of things differently.
I’ve asked seasoned travel writer, Jen Stevens, to share with you a few tricks of the trade to help ensure you never find yourself despairing at your own published article. Look for them in the next issue: “How to Avoid Editing Errors.”

Stay tuned… and don’t forget to scroll down for today’s writing prompt…

— Lori
Lori Allen
Director, Great Escape Publishing

[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.]

PRACTICAL WRITING PROMPT OF THE WEEK:

Yesterday’s featured publication was about a writing contest sponsored by Transitions Abroad magazine. The editors are offering $500 to the winner. The prize will go to the 1,000-3,000-word article that best describes “a moment or moments which capture the sense of immersion in another culture.” Contest details here: http://tinyurl.com/2vu8bv .

Even if you don’t plan on entering the contest, this is a topic that’s worth exploring. Last week’s writing prompt asked you to think about the things that travel teaches you. This week, think about the ways travel changes your point of view.

Consider a specific travel experience. Remember how what you saw and did affected you? Did it change the way you see things back home? Did you experience something that could be inspiring to others?

This weekend, set aside some time to write a travel essay that incorporates those discoveries — a story from the heart. Just remember: While you’ll be writing using “I,” don’t overdo it or you’ll get in your own way.

READER FEEDBACK: What Our Workshop Attendees in Santa Fe, NM. Had to Say about Our Most Recent Ultimate Photographer’s Workshop

“This workshop gave me more than I ever dreamed I would learn. I feel like now – I can get started.” – Jackie M.
“Rich is very approachable and knowledgeable for all levels – amateur to pro. His personal approach is refreshing.” – Melissa S.
“It was a tremendously valuable experience in a number of ways. Very motivating – I need that every now and then.” – Bob S.
“I was able to understand concepts which previously intimidated me! Rich is so accessible.” – Viki H.
“Shelly is a dear loving person who has amazing knowledge and an easy way to helping others to learn.” – Bobbie H.
“This workshop was very beneficial if you want to use photography in any way. It’s good for all levels of experience.” – Laura B.
“This is my second workshop but first photo workshop. Very much enjoying all the experts at AWAI.” – Janie G.
“I really appreciated Shelly’s info and expertise and learned about two areas that I probably will consider now and would not have before: stock and model/portrait photography.” – Jeannine B.

[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.]

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