“One day, you’re just doing what you love, and all of a sudden the next day, you can’t get through the checkout line at the grocery store without someone pointing at you and shouting your name.”
The woman who said those words knows intimately what it’s like to be famous, what it means to have your name on a marquis, and how quickly it can happen.
Spoken by bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert during a book tour around the United States — promoting the follow-up to her epic tale of “one woman’s search for everything across Italy, India, and Indonesia,” or as it’s more commonly known, “Eat Pray Love” – they underscored the many anecdotes she shared on the tour about writing in relative obscurity for decades, and then suddenly being declared a hit based on her experiences.
“I didn’t set out to be famous,” she said. “I just wanted to share the story.”
Whether you love or hate “Eat Pray Love,” you can’t deny that it touched the hearts and souls of millions around the world – it has sold more than 9 million copies – and it put Gilbert’s name in lights.
In the decades before it became a bestseller, Gilbert was toiling away as a cook and bartender, and then as a magazine freelancer, but although she wrote a few short stories and had one book published – “The Last American Man,” a biography of a quirky naturalist – very few people knew who she was.
Gilbert put her life down on paper and transformed it into something magical to be shared by all – and you can do the same thing.
Just start writing it down
If you have something to say, well, there’s no time like the present, right?
Gilbert has talked about how people came up to her after “Eat Pray Love” and said things like, “I have always wanted to write a story based on my life,” and her response is always, “Well, then, why don’t you?”
It’s true that writing takes some discipline and skills, but it’s also true that anyone can do it – you just have to start somewhere and keep going.
Remember that your story is yours alone
No one else has lived exactly the way you have. While many people may share a similar background or have some of the same things happening in their lives, your take on it is unique because you own the reactions, feelings and insights associated with it all.
And, in fact, it’s the commonality of the human experience that makes an epic story about one’s life easier for others to relate to – and we can learn from each other through our shared tales.
Gilbert initially wrote “Eat Pray Love” as a series of letters to her good friend Darcey Steinke, who offered feedback and kept her going.
You don’t have to do the same, but it is a good idea to have someone in your life to help hold you accountable as you work on your story, someone whose instincts you trust and who will be honest with you about your work.
In addition, consider taking a writing workshop, joining a writing club or take writing classes – not only will you become more proficient, but you also will find like-minded writers who can provide an invaluable network.
Here at Great Escape Publishing, famous is what it feels like to be a travel writer.
You go from everyday traveler, to red carpet VIP. And all it takes is an assignment letter from 1-2 publications to crank up your stardom level another notch. You go from three-star hotels to five… from only a few activities on a modest budget to seeing everything a small town has to offer with your own personal chauffeur paid for by the tourism board.
Of course, seeing your name on your story in a print magazine is the icing on the cake, too.
If you’re already a writer, welcome!
If you’re not, you’re in good company. We started as a group of “untourists” making our way around the world in search of a more unconventional way to travel. Today, we’re travel writers and photographers.
We don’t have degrees in journalism and we haven’t spent years in photo school. We’re just everyday folks who like to travel and we pay for it by selling our stories and photos to magazines, newspapers and websites across the globe.
If you like to travel and you’d love to see your name in lights, try travel writing. It’s a small stepping stone on your path to mini-celebrity.