Having written one book that took me on a 45,000 mile journey around the world, and being in the middle of another that sees me doing an 18,000 mile sea journey that hasn’t been attempted by any other living writer and which the leading sea travel companies told me was impossible, I now consider myself to be as much a travel writer as a beer writer. Given that those book stores kind enough to stock Three Sheets invariably put it in the travel writing section (next to Bill Bryson – get in!) rather than the food and drink section, I’m obviously not the only person who thinks this way.
So when a fellow scribe suggested I joined the British Guild of Travel Writers, I thought, why not? The British Guild of Beer Writers is a great laugh, a good bunch of people, with social events that are both great fun and good opportunities to meet people. Straddle two different genres of writing, get double the fun.
But it was not to be. Because I, my publisher, my agent and the nation’s bookstores are mistaken. You see I’m not a travel writer at all. I’m a beer writer who travels, and that’s different. It’s not as good.
The impliction seems to be that if I’d done exactly the same journey without beer, then I would be more of a travel writer. It seems you’re either one thing or the other, so Bill Bryson must be confusing the hell out of everone at the moment: he seems to think you can just write in an entertaining manner across various different genres, and so long as the core idea of your book is appealing, it doesn’t really matter what genre you call it. What an idiot; he’s clearly going nowhere.
“If, however, your situation changes and your work becomes broader in scope, do please let me know and I will arrange for your application to be reconsidered,” said my rejection e-mail.
Broader in scope than going twice around the world? “Beer in space” anyone?
If I had satisfied them, that would have got me to an interview stage. An interview. To decide whether I’m really a travel writer or not.
As Oscar Wilde said, “I wouldn’t want to be a member of any club that wouldn’t have me.” Hang on, that’s not right…