Life is full of “ifs.”
So is travel.
And so, too, is travel writing.
As a self-professed writer, I’m always trying to improve my style, tweak my vocabulary, and generally make sure that my “voice” shines through in everything that I write — from e-mails to blog posts.
Over the years, I feel like I’ve settled into this “voice” nicely. As long as my teachers and professors weren’t stringing me along, I’ve been lead to believe that I do, in fact, have a “unique” writing voice in everything that I compose.
I’m proud of this voice. It’s fluid. It’s easy to read. And it’s mine.
But sometimes, I can’t help wondering what my writing would be like if I were funny.
And I’m not just talking about sometimes sarcastic or occasionally witty — I mean laugh-out-loud funny. The type of funny that comes naturally, yet is still somehow unexpected. Funny like Bill Bryson or J. Maarten Troost.
I read plenty of travel blogs with funny writers working diligently behind the scenes. Sally of Unbrave Girl can make even cookies and pants hilarious. Candice of Candice Does the World can poke fun at everything and everyone and still come off as charming. Michael of Go, See, Write can take a typical travel post and turn it completely upside down with his sense of humor.
I love reading all these blogs. I love laughing at them. But, secretly, I’m kind of jealous of them, too.
Yes, I love my writing style. But what if, what if, what if…
It’s not like I have a ton of side-splitting travel stories lurking around untold, or any particularly amusing misadventures that I haven’t written about yet. But I can’t help thinking that, if I were a funny travel writer, I could tell some of my stories so much better.
If I were a funny travel writer…
… I would know all the right words and phrases to use to express how terrifying and yet ridiculously funny it was to be lost in Beijing, only to end up in an all-Asian techno club with 5 other Americans, where I promptly was felt up by a drunk, unnaturally tall Chinese man while a dude dressed like Michael Jackson did magic tricks in the corner.
… I could ruminate in hilarious detail about the time my friend Tucky got locked out of his hotel room in Rome, and was subsequently dressed for dinner using a hodgepodge of clothing from various girls’ suitcases.
… I would be able to properly capture the tear-inducing laughter that took place on an afternoon where I unknowingly left the parking brake on in a rental car in New Zealand, and proceeded to drive for a mile or two down the Wellington Motorway with the car screeching horribly.
But you know what? I’m just not one of those innately funny travel writers that I so admire. And maybe that’s part of the reason why I admire them so much and follow their adventures so diligently.
However, as I’ve progressed as a writer (travel or otherwise), I’ve come to realize that you can’t possibly be or do all things.
Sure, I could competently write a technical manual or an article about geology. Those are just subjects; subjects that can be researched or learned about.
But style? Style can’t be learned. Style and voice can only evolve naturally over the years.
So I have to come to terms with the fact that my writing style has evolved away from funny. In fact, I’m not sure it was ever funny (except maybe during this project). And that’s okay.
I’ve come to realize that, just because I can’t write stories that make you fall out of your chair laughing, that doesn’t mean I’m a bad writer. It doesn’t even mean that I’m not entertaining.
It just means that I’m not funny.
… But I hope you still like me anyway.
Do you ever struggle with your writing style? How do you deal with being frustrated when you can write in a certain way that you wish you could?