This is going to be the last guest post for this year, but trust me, it’s a great one with which to wrap up our #GuestDayTuesdays for 2022! It’s time for another of Jackie Lambert’s awesome Writer’s Travelogue posts, today featuring the importance of adding more than just photography to your travel journals. (Told ya it was gonna be great!) 😀
I know you’re gonna enjoy Jackie’s suggestions, so I’m going to turn the floor over to her right now. Jackie, you’re on!
Thanks, Marcia, and Hi, Everyone!
Is A Picture Worth 1000 Words?
Human beings are very visual creatures.
We have one of the largest brains in nature, and science tells us that half of it is devoted to visual processing. No wonder we love a picture! It’s why visual media is so successful – it stops us in our tracks.
Yet remember how the aroma of disinfectant takes you straight back to school. Or the scent of a particular perfume reminds you of a favourite aunt. In evolutionary terms, smell is one of the oldest senses, lodged in one of the most primitive parts of the brain. Even the simplest, single-celled organisms are able to detect chemicals, which is basically what our senses of smell and taste are all about.
Any creative writing course worth its salt will instruct you to write with all five senses, and here I’m going to look at why.
In my last post, I mentioned my trip of a lifetime to Zimbabwe in 1994.
A photo of me at Victoria Falls can’t tell you why locals call it Mosi-oa-Tunya – The Smoke That Thunders – but I can describe to you the deafening roar of 550-million litres of water dropping 300 feet a minute; how the sound shook me to the core of my being, and how cool droplets of spray misted my skin beneath the blistering African sun. Nearly thirty years later, those words in my journal help me recall the sensation in a way that the photo never could.
The real joy of my notes is that they have kept a record of something much more profound than a pretty view, or a group partying in a foreign bar, drinking brightly coloured cocktails filled with umbrellas and foliage.
My journals remind me what I was feeling; the raw fear of being held underwater by one of the most gigantic rapids on the Zambezi River with the guide’s words “You DO NOT want to fall in here…” reverberating around my head; the steam train taste and smell of a cloud that I parachuted through; the unbridled pleasure of swimming with playful sea lions every day in the Galapagos Islands; the desolation of dragging myself away from these wonderful adventures to return to the daily grind of earning a living…
My travel diaries also help me remember conversations, such as the chat with a refugee from life, who I met near her home in paradise, deep in the Costa Rican jungle,
“The crocs ate my ducks and a boa constrictor swallowed my cat. One night, I found a Fer de Lance pit viper in my bed!”
My scribblings transport me to the musical soundtrack of the time; a quote that struck a chord; or recommendations from fellow travellers for a whole new adventure. My husband, Mark, and I planned our honeymoon in Costa Rica around such recommendations. Our second holiday together, whitewater rafting in Colorado, came about because of tips given to us by a Costa Rican rafting guide.
As authors, we work with language. Our job is to express mood and meaning; to articulate atmosphere and emotion; to distil out the essence, interpret, then verbalise it.
What kind of image does this conjure up?
We went for a walk. It was beautiful! Later, we had dinner overlooking the beach. The sunset was gorgeous – we absolutely love it here!!!!
Did you say “Nothing much”?!
That’s why we need to get creative with our descriptions. Why was the walk beautiful and the sunset gorgeous? Multiple exclamation marks can’t express that, but five senses can;
- What did you see? – strange colours, views, birds, other people, mountains, waterfalls, reflections, herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically across the plains, something else?
- What did you hear? – a favourite song, birds, the wind, a brass band, an inane comment, water, a fairground, aeroplanes, silence, something else?
- What did you touch / feel? – sun on your skin, ice-cold water, dragon scales, a warm puppy. Did you run my fingers through a field of barley, a child’s hair, something else?
- What did you smell? – fresh grass, pine trees, a fish market, boiled sweets, farmyards, flowers, the sewage works, your auntie’s perfume, the disinfectant that took you straight back to school, something else?
- What did you taste? – ice cream, a lovely coffee, the worst beer in the world, foie gras, adventure…
I hope it’s obvious that adding this kind of colour to your descriptions will make them much more interesting and evocative.
Have a go at describing your next sunset, meal in a restaurant, or anything else using as many of the senses as you can and see what happens.
To inspire you, I have included photographs of three ‘beautiful’ sunsets from our travels in Albania. They are all one hundred percent natural – I don’t use filters – and all very different. How would you describe them?
My experiences on the Zambezi and in the Galapagos are immortalised in Alyson Sheldrake’s travel anthologies Itchy Feet and Wish You Were Here. If you would like to check and make sure I wrote using all five senses, both books are available on Amazon!
Three Travel Stories books are also available as part of a Box Set, with 17 (yes SEVENTEEN!) bonus chapters, featuring NYT bestselling and award-winning travel writers. My bonus chapter is A Honeymoon Horror Story about my exploits in Costa Rica with serpents, white water, and cockroaches the size of Tonka trucks.
Author Jackie Lambert
Fans of Jacqueline (Jackie) Lambert’s doggie/travel blog, www.WorldWideWalkies.com said, “You should write a book!” So, she did. In fact, she’s written five…
If you’ve ever considered giving up work to head off into the sunset with surfboards on the roof–or you just like dogs, travel and humour, her Adventure Caravanning With Dogs books are for you.
The first, Fur Babies in France, was described by one reviewer as, “Laugh out funny and a great travel guide”. It tells how she and husband Mark gave up work, accidentally bought their first ever caravan, then decided to rent out the house, sell most of their possessions, and tour Europe full-time with four dogs in tow.
Dog on the Rhine; “An inspirational travelogue” follows this intrepid couple as they get more adventurous, and head into Germany, The Czech Republic, Slovenia, Croatia and Italy. But just to prove that Living the Dream is not all sunshine and rainbows, they return home to a huge Fidose of reality…
Dogs ‘n’ Dracula; “Armchair travel delight” gives the full low down on how Jackie and Mark set off for Spain and Portugal, but decided to turn left…
Pups on Piste is a “Fun and interesting book” about the trials and tribulations of their first ski season in Italy, during which a ski instructor tells them, “Don’t miss the turn, or you’ll go over a cliff.”
In her latest memoir, It Never Rains But It Paws, released on 6th May 2022, Jackie and Mark race against time to leave the UK before Britain leaves the EU. Brexit could mean their four precious pups would be unable to travel. Then, a few months into their trip, the pandemic leaves them trapped in the epicentre of Europe’s No. 1 coronavirus hotspot…
She is currently working on her sixth book, To Hel In A Hound Cart – A Road Trip Through Poland In A Pandemic, which will be published later in 2022.
In her first year as a published author, Jacqueline was delighted to receive multiple five-star reviews, a letter from Prince Charles, an invitation to Bucharest to collect an award for Dogs ‘n’ Dracula, and Amazon No. 1 Bestseller status in the German Travel category for Dog on the Rhine. Some of her travel tales BC (Before Canines) have been featured in travel anthologies, alongside other bestselling and award-winning authors.
You can check out all of Jackie’s books on her Amazon Author Page HERE.
Or grab them one at a time here:
Year 1 – Fur Babies in France
Dog on the Rhine
Dogs n Dracula
It Never Rains but It Paws
And you can reach Jackie on social media here: