Globejotting Newsletter: The Imperfection Edition

From Saigon to Borneo… and a Nifty New Online Travel Writing Course!

By Dave Fox

Photo: Mikhail Kryshen / flickr

Photo: Mikhail Kryshen / flickr

[I don’t usually post my entire newsletter on this website, but at the moment, I am scrambling to catch a flight to Borneo and slapping the newsletter up here is the quickest way to make a couple of announcements. If you’ve been waiting for the launch of my new online travel writing course, it is now available at a special “beta launch” discount price! Scroll down to the second section for details. Then… keep scrolling for my upcoming travel schedule!]


Greetings! Welcome to the “Imperfection Edition” of this newsletter.

Part of my role as a writing coach is to help people write well. But sometimes, we get so wrapped up in doing things perfectly that it squashes our productivity. That’s why I’m hastily slamming out this newsletter – with virtually no editing. To show you it can, and sometimes should, be done.

(Okay, the real reason I am slamming out this newsletter so hastily is that I have to catch a flight to Borneo in less than 17 hours and I have many things to get done.)

I’ve got three things to tell you about here. I’m giving myself 30 minutes to tell you about all of them… starting… NOW!


Saigon Book Update and Why You Should Start a Scary Project

I flew to Saigon last month to begin work on a new book. I arrived on a Tuesday afternoon. I was happy to be back. I met friends for dinner. I had a beer and watched the traffic chaos on my favorite street corner. It was a fun evening.

I woke up the next morning with a crippling sense of dread.

I already had half a book’s worth of stories and other material from past visits. But the info I needed to gather on this trip was going to be difficult. I was writing about a neighborhood with carnival feel to it. It’s where most of the budget travelers gravitate. And while hanging out in so-called “tourist ghettos” is generally not my style (I get wild out of doing non-touristy things and getting away from the rest of the tourists) I have always been drawn to this particular neighborhood.

I worried about two things. (1) Was it “fair” to write a book about such an atypical part of Vietnam? And (2) was I qualified to write this story? It’s easy to drink beers and people watch and collect crazy anecdotes, but there are more important issues beneath the surface. Some street vendors survive on two or three dollars a day from the tourists they sell stuff to. There is growing prostitution in the area. I am offered drugs every time I walk down the street – something that never happened there five years ago. Young children are working as street hawkers and/or pickpockets through the middle of the night. It seems clear to me there’s a mafia-style control over the neighborhood. Could I get to the bottom of these tales? Would people talk to me about these issues? If they did, would they tell me the truth? Was it safe for me to even be asking?

I dreaded getting the story wrong.

Things got off to a slow start. It took me several days to find my groove. But with the help of a few good friends who translated and helped me approach people, I eventually started unearthing some moving tales, and even a real-life ghost mystery.

I left Saigon excited and energized. I do not have all the information I need yet so I’ll return in the fall. I’m now convinced I have a winning book in the works.

The moral of this story: Sometimes, when we take on a big project, it can intimidate us at first. It’s easy to panic, or give up, or not even start, because you can’t figure out how you’ll get to the finish line. The way you will get to the finish line,  is to just start moving. Let the process take you where it will. There might not be a guarantee you’ll succeed, but demanding such a guarantee can crush the probability it could happen.

Do you have a big project in mind you’ve been too intimidated to start? If you’d like to share your experience with Globejotting readers, in exchange for some inspiration to get moving, I’d love to hear your story. Drop me an e-mail!


Write Phenomenal Travel Tales!

… Speaking of stories… after two weeks of focusing on my writing, I returned home to Singapore and remembered there was something else I had promised to focus on: the launch of my new online travel writing class. With summer travels looming, I wondered if I could get it finished in time. I considered delaying everything until August – but I hate promising to release a product and not meeting my self-imposed deadline.

So I slogged through the editing process, and the basic version of the course is now ready. There will be additional bonus materials coming in August or September, but you can get the six fun and information-soaked lessons right away… and… if you order before I release the rest of the materials, you can get the course at a special “beta launch” discount price.

This course picks up where my book, “Globejotting: How to Write Extraordinary Travel Journals” leaves off. It will teach you how to shape those “rough draft” journals into enthralling travel tales you can send to friends and family, share on a blog, or publish professionally. I teach how to write compelling tales that will leave readers riveted and editors asking for more. Past students from this course (from the older version of the workshop) give it rave reviews.

Sound like fun? You can start immediately! Sign up now and your workbook should arrive via e-mail within minutes. You’ll find full details here:


Upcoming Adventures

Speaking of slogging, I’ll be slogging through the jungles of Borneo for the next couple of weeks. Kattina and I fly tomorrow afternoon to Kuching in the Malaysian part of the island. We’ll pass through Brunei (a new country for me) and Indonesian Borneo as well. My nature-obsessed wife is threatening to bring me on new wildlife adventures in search of orangutans and proboscis monkeys, rhinos and pygmy elephants. We’re also looking into a homestay with one of the island’s indigenous groups, and some gratuitous beach time.

Kattina will be working with me on new writing projects and also some short travel videos. She’ll be writing for Globejotting, and attempting to coerce me into new ridiculous situations.

After three weeks in Borneo, we head to Bali and the Gili Islands, then home to Singapore for a week before we travel with friends to northern Vietnam. Then in the fall, I dive back into Saigon.

Stay tuned to for updates. Right now on the website, you’ll find several stories from my trip to Saigon, and new tales from Burma and Botswana.  We’ve also got two new guest writers: Lois Podoshen confronts a slithery intruder in “Suburban Safari.” And Laura Venecia Rodriguez explains how and why to incorporate yoga into your travels, even if you’ve never done yoga before.

With two minutes to spare, this concludes this hasty edition of the Globejotting newsletter. As always, your comments and questions are welcome and appreciated!

Published on Sunday, June 9, 2013

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