First Things First….Know Thyself

Krakow, Poland

It’s been a rough two weeks in the world of travel writing and travel photography.

Forbes Traveler has “downsized” to practically no editorial team and last I heard, existing articles will be merged into

The winner of World Nomads Antarctica Travel Scholarship has endured some borderline savage backlash from bitter losers.

A New York Times writer was given the pink slip after participating in a totally unrelated press trip to Jamaica.

Parallel to all this, a couple of really solid and insightful articles have been running on the Traveler’s Notebook lately. From tackling the issue of free and comped trips in Do Freebies Undermine Honesty in Travel Writing? to a followup essay on transparent writing in Material Transparency: Manifesto on a Writer’s Personal Brand.

My thoughts on press trips? Never been on one, but I’m certainly not opposed to them. Especially since discovering lately that some editors and “select” writers for a glossy magazine frequently travel on press trips, while freelancers hoping to place articles with said magazine are barred from doing so according to their guidelines.

Talk about transparency issues, but I digress…

Most recently, the excellent essay, Your Travel Writing Doesn’t Matter! implores writers to tackle a few thought-provoking questions such as “What stories can we tell that matter?” (a very subjective issue as different stories matter to different folks) and “What should our goals as individuals and as a community be?

Seems like the whole travel writing industry is currently reflecting. Individual writers are re-evaluating their craft and where they stand in relation to other writers. Writers are beginning to dig deeper.

Approaches to this conversation vary. Some lash out negatively. Others try to see the middle ground. Others seek direction from others. Some try to box others up within neatly defined boundaries.

My thoughts on all this?

Know thyself. Period.

This may sound like the passive-aggressive or easy way out, but step back and truly reflect on these simple words. If you know yourself, your strengths, your weaknesses, and your true goals and purpose in life, external forces and influences within your control really won’t dampen any inherent resolve or visions.

Know thyself.