We're in the middle of a recession, right? And people are not only afraid to travel because of terrorism, they're cocooning at home, saving their money, and not going anywhere. So if people aren't traveling -- not to mention the sorry job prospects in the publishing industry these days -- why is there this ambitious four-week travel writers' seminar, at $150 a person (or individual sessions for $50 per), at Easy Going Travel Shop & Bookstore in Berkeley (1385 Shattuck Ave., 510-843-3533)?
Jeff Greenwald knows. "Governments come and go, but the lure of travel is eternal," laughs the Oakland author/wanderer, whose April 17 talk at Easy Going focuses on the nuts and bolts of adventure travel writing. "A lot of people think of adventure travel writing as a terrifically romantic enterprise, but a lot of it is sweating in crowded buses, squatting in dirty toilets, and eating food you wouldn't serve to your parakeet." Greenwald plans to caution would-be globe-hopping journos; after all, they could end up like Daniel Pearl. Post-9/11 world political tension has certainly changed Greenwald's game plan: because publishers are suddenly wary of "dangerous" locales, he resorted to self-publishing his new book, Scratching the Surface, a collection of his best pieces. "It's hard to publish travel books these days," admits Greenwald, who's selling the book from his Web site, www.jeffgreenwald.com . "Writers have to take matters into their own hands."
Easy Going's Wednesday-evening seminar also features writer/editor Don George from Lonely Planet Publications on strategies for selling the story, tonight at 7 p.m.; and author Linda Watanabe McFerrin (Wild Writing Women) on the mechanics of travel writing on April 10. Greenwald makes a further appearance at Easy Going on Thursday, April 11 (7:30 p.m.) to read from Scratching the Surface. Then, on April 24, all three writers conduct a final workshop, after which Greenwald departs for Mt. Kailash in Tibet, the most sacred mountain to Hindus and Buddhists, on assignment for a photo agency. Travel there is restricted by the Chinese government, but that's a risk Greenwald is willing to take while we relax in our armchairs waiting for his next book.
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