I’ve been a busy little beaver these last few months, feverishly writing away on some of my favourite things: travel and all things Venice. It’s been an exciting time, and to see my name in print in official magazines and travel websites has given me thrills that I thought only a spritz aperol could provide.
My foray into freelance writing however has meant that I’ve been beavering away much less on my blog than I’d like. It is, after all, my lovely little blog that’s opened up all these new doors for me. Not bad for having just started my Venice ramblings a mere nine months ago.
Anyone who knows me will know that I’ve harboured secret writing tendencies for as long as I can remember. I wrote my very first story when I was nine year’s old called Mama’s Ghost. I recall proudly showing the story to my mother who remarked that I certainly had a vivid imagination. A childhood filled with Sweet Valley High and the Babysitters Club will do that to you.
Although life took me down another, albeit still pleasant, life path, my writing ambitions never truly went away. A flicker of ambition was re-ignited, however, when I stepped out of Santa Lucia train station and into a frantic and dusky Venice for the first time.
In his essay ‘Italian Hours’, Henry James noted that there is nothing new to be said about Venice. He is, of course right. Thousands of writers over the years have written about Venice, adoring, praising, lamenting, criticising, and admiring her many beauties and flaws. And I felt my own compulsive urge to write on my first visit, noting everything I did, everyone I met, things I saw, Italian phrases I learned. I began keeping Venice diaries, buying a new notebook for every trip. I didn’t want to forget any detail of this beguiling city.
The same could not be said for the vaporetto system. I was quite happy to forget the heated arguments we had with one another. ‘I don’t care what the guidebooks say’, I raged in one notebook whilst staying on the island of Giudecca, ‘the water buses are not simple to use. You think you’re going to go one way and then you go the other. You finally get on the right number but it goes the long way around the island, taking sixty minutes to mosey ingratiatingly slowly along the Grand Canal when, if you could conduct an act of God and walk across water it would only take ten minutes to get to your destination.’
I am pleased to report that the vaporetto system and I are now on better terms and no longer causes me quite so much angst.
Alas, when my book case started sighing under the weight of all my religiously completed Venice notebooks, I realised that I had in essence, completed a literary tomb about Venezia that could rival War and Peace. As I attempted to re-organise the (Venetian) lion amount of notepads in my book case, my eyes fell upon the notes I’d made for one of my earlier trips to Venice, when I was but a poor student cum poor graduate. It was titled, Venice for the Economically Challenged, and it was filled with nuggets of ideas on how to enjoy the splendours of La Serenissima without having to resort to remortgaging your house. It was travel-finance gold, I thought. I should be sharing the gospel with others who worship at the House of Venezia.
And that’s how my Venetian-shaped epiphany happened. I’d write a book about my favourite place in the world. It would be part travel memoir, part travel advice, offering die-hard Venetophiles another book to savour, nostalgize, and romanticise over, whilst offering newbie wannabe Venetophiles safe economic passage through the financial hazard that Venice can be, leaving them free to fall inevitably in love with the city.
Sure, there may not be anything new about Venice in my book (thanks Henry James), but Judith Martin hit the nail on the head when she surmised that a true Venetophile doesn’t care if it’s been said before (No Vulgar Hotel: The Desire and Pursuit of Venice). A true lover of all things Venice will gleefully lap up anything that makes even the slightest reference to their beloved city. They’ll watch a cooking show (even if they hate cooking), just because it is set in Venice. They’ll endure a two hour Bond movie just because it has ten minutes of footage in the lagoon. And they’ll read countless memoir books just so they can nod their head in sage agreement at the author’s contemplations of an experience they’ve both shared or a place they’ve both visited. There may be nothing new to La Serenissima, but we love her all the same. We are a strange breed, us Venetophiles.
All this being said, before I start banking on the hardened Venice lovers to rush out and buy my little book, I need to finish it first. I’ve been working on it for the last three years, so I wouldn’t put in any Amazon reservations quite yet. At this rate, you’ll be more likely to find out who actually burned down La Fenice than read my completed book.
Nonetheless, my recent flurry of writing activity about my favourite place in the world is inching me that ever bit closer to my Carrie Bradshaw and Sex and the Venetian City-esque dream that I’ve been harbouring all these years.
It may be one small step into the writing world, but it’s one giant vaporetto trip for Little Bella.