Education of a Travel Writer
It’s a long lonely road to become a writer, tells Harold Stephens, and although the getting there is difficult, he insists it’s not impossible. Stephens is a prolific writer and dedicated to his profession. He has written more than twenty-five books—travel, adventure, biographies and novels—and over four thousand magazine and newspaper stories, TV and video scripts, movie documentaries, and just about anything that has to do with the written word. In the beginning, when he had the dream, he was told to give it up. “You’ll never make it as a writer,” editors told him, as did most everyone else.
This is his story, how he became a writer. His intent is not to advise those who want to write how to be writers. He merely tells readers how he did it. But be warned! Those who might want to follow his example must take care for his approach is not the orthodox method taught in schools nor learned from how-to books. Stephens adheres to Ayn Rand’s philosophy: “The process of writing cannot be taught, not because it is mystical but rather because the process is so complex that a teacher cannot supervise the process for you. You must practice to learn.” Stephens gives us some revealing information on how writing has evolved into what it is today. He tells us about some well-known writers, from James Michener to James Clavell, who he personally knew. He firmly believes: “We learn mostly from our mistakes and from the mistakes of others.”