Friday, May 20, 2016

Travel Writing with Peter N. Milligan

I’m a bit obsessed with travel. I spend my days in my drab cubicle, listening to travel podcasts. I check Instagram multiple times a day, just to see pictures of travelers around the world, and I read a lot of travel books.

For me, a great travel book has just the right balance of humor, philosophy, and heart warm. It should make me want to put it down at least once to check Google Flights to see how much it would cost to fly to the destination (s) discussed. A good travel book should inspire wanderlust.

The first travel book I read in 2016 was Peter N. Milligan’s Bulls Before Breakfast. 

Though I still have no desire to actually run with the bulls, due to my unfortunate propensity for clumsiness, 
I was quite taken with Pamplona, its people, and most importantly, its food. There were a few times while reading about the juicy steaks, tapas, and the peppers that you have to try, that I decided someone should invent a book with an edible cover and pages.
I also have a fascination with sub-cultures, and loved learning about the bull runners and the culture that surrounds the fiestas of San Fermin. 

I thought that Bulls Before Breakfast was a great travel book, so I was very excited when I saw that Peter was on the schedule to speak to The South Jersey Writers' Group.

First, Peter gets bonus points for providing fantastic handouts (and brownies).

Peter’s talk was a nice blend of writing advice and travel inspiration. He shared his four rules of travel.

4 Rules of Travel by Peter N. Milligan
1)  Go anywhere and never with a tour group 
2) Travel with children  
3) Be first (get up early)
4)     The 3 Laws
1)      Eat Well
2)      Sleep Well
3)      Obey

Peter then shared his journey to getting published. He reminded the group of something we hear a lot, but need the constant reminder of, be persistent. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t give up. Peter did not give up. 

First write something, and then get it out there. Keep sending out submissions, even when you have reached the Rs in the Writer’s Market book. Peter reached the Rs, though his agent came from the F submissions. 

Next, once you secure an agent, publisher, editor, etc… be ready for some “intelligent compromise.” This was an excellent term for an excellent piece of advice. You can hold your ground on some things, but you should choose your battles, especially when it comes to ticking off sports broadcasting celebrities or excessively inebriated actresses.

Peter also shared some of the unexpected things that can come from finally having your book out there, like jealousy from friends, demands for handouts (aka-why don’t you just give me a free copy of your book), and even death threats.

Everyone learned the term for what many of us already do, book "fluffing." This refers to the act of helpfully reorganizing a shelf at a book store so that either ones' own book, or a favorite book, is turned out, cover forward. This will increase the likelihood that a passerby will be enticed to take the book home. 

Peter's son said this was the best picture and I had to include it. 
Peter’s talk was brilliant. It was fun, entertaining, and highly informative. I think everyone left with a nice shot in the arm of writing motivation, and a nice dose of travel motivation too.

I wish Peter a good run at this year’s San Fermin Festival, and I, as well as many other South Jersey Writers' Group members, look forward to reading his next book, even though I disagree with the publishers, I would not tire of all of the “Ari stuff.”

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