Monday, July 1, 2013
The journey of writing Road Wench - Part Three
The second season was meant to be the icing on the cake, so I could prove myself adept at tour managing, unlike my first season with the god-awful first tour and all my mistakes. But it turned out that my second season was, for a variety of reasons, mostly beyond my control, appalling. There were a handful of good tours but at least half went sour. I was still planning on writing at the end of the season. Bad tours make for good stories, after all. I had one hotel tour scheduled before I finished the season. I was in Amsterdam finishing the budget tour before the hotel tour started, when I met up with a hotel tour manager at the sex show. Where else do you have everyday conversations with colleagues? While the clients were getting shocked downstairs, we stood by the bar upstairs sipping extra strong bourbons and swapping tour tales. ‘I’m a bit worried about doing a hotel tour next,’ I admitted. ‘I’ve never done one before. I’m not sure I’ll like it as much. I love partying with the clients at the campsites on the budget tours’. ‘You’ll love it,’ said X. ‘it’s nice having your own bathroom instead of using the shower blocks’. I had to admit that sounded appealing. ‘The other thing that’s better is that you have more of a say about timings. You still have to work in with the hotel restaurant, but you get to decide, instead of the campsite reps telling you what time you have to depart or eat.’ I sipped my bourbon. Although I wasn’t convinced, it was time to give it a go. If I wanted to come back next season, I had to be able to handle hotel tours. I’d decided during the god-awful season I’d had that I couldn’t finish on such a sour note, so I convinced myself that if I just did three seasons, then I would be content to finish with touring, and return to normal life at home. I might even get my book finished. ‘Have you heard about that book about touring?’ added X. I nearly choked on my bourbon. ‘Rule number five –no sex on the bus. It’s not written by a Contiki guy, I’ve read it, he was Top Deck, but it’s hilarious. It’s all about life on tour.’ Bugger bugger buggery bugger. Had I left it too long? It was August 2001, and unbeknownst to me we were on the cusp of IT-everything, bloggers and facebook and the we share everything generation. More importantly, even though I now had Something to write about, I wasn’t the only one. Anyone who’d worked in the industry, even someone who’d done a tour, could write about it. and now someone, another tour manager from a similar tour company, had done just that. The problem with doing Research by living, was there was no ownership deal on the information or the experience. Uniqueness was the key. And I’d been beaten to it. Somewhat deflated I went on my hotel tour. More things than ever went wrong. We were in Rome for September 11. I was in USA one month later, watching a sheikh get ‘randomly’ searched. I returned to Australia, wondering if I’d have a job to return to. Would anyone still be travelling in 2002? In the end the tours kept running, and I kept touring for three more years. My writing stalled once more. I made a few cursory attempts, with long lists of dotpoints of what happened on tour, and wrote up a few kitschy poems I’d written to share with groups at the end of some tours, summarising our trip. When I made it back to Australia I decided on a brain-change, and went back to university to do a diploma of education. Once more university took up most of my time, and the only writing I did was essays and assignments. I was at a friend’s birthday dinner when two pivotal things happened. I told a story from touring. My friend Nicole was sitting next to me. ‘Are you still going to write up your stories? I’d love to read them,’ she said. Across from her was Angela, a friend of the birthday girl. We’d just met. ‘Are you a writer? I’m in a writing group. You should come along,’ she said. So I did.