In our Member’s Spotlight series we feature interviews with the lovely girls in our community! This week we talked to Amanda, Novelist!
Hi Amanda! Please tell us a bit about yourself:
I’m from Australia, but yearly vacations didn’t suffice so I set off on a two-year adventure around the world. I’ve visited over 50 countries, lived in Bali for six months and now I’m hoping to call New York City my home.
What is your location independent job?
I’m a freelance journalist, copywriter, creative writer and soon-to-be self-published author. I write conversational, humanised content for a variety of PR, marketing and advertising agencies, as well as editorials and feature stories for magazines, news platforms, websites, and blogs.
I’ve had the honour to work with over 120 clients in Australia and globally. Some of my clients include News Corp, Google, TedX, South Australian Tourism Commission, Royal Caribbean, and Japan Tourism.
How did you get into this line of work? How can others do the same?
Yes, I’ve always worked in communications. I studied public relations, then returned to university to complete my masters in journalism.
What motivated you to pursue a life as a travel writer?
I love travel because it’s the best way I learn – about myself, other people, and the world. I wanted my writing to be a platform to convey my worldview (and encourage others to understand theirs).
I’ve always had an affinity for people and places. Writing became a way for me to make sense of the world. I’ve travelled extensively, so fusing my passions, travel and writing, was a natural progression for me.
I’m not just a travel columnist for News Corp (among other brands), I’m also an essayist for Loco Travel Magazine – a platform I launched to satisfy my truth-seeking thirst for human-centred depictions of travel.
Can you go into a little more detail about this ‘truth-seeking’ part of you?
We travel-loving ladies are all guilty of scrolling through Instagram and getting FOMO for a place we haven’t been. But how often do we see photos that capture the come-down effect of travel?
Well, for starters, there’s nothing exciting about being delayed and waiting hours in an airport, draped across the departures floor.
Because of this, we tend to form a skewed idea of what travel is. And more importantly, how it changes us on a deeper level. I wanted to use these lessons to empower my stories.
What challenges have you faced as a traveller? (How did you overcome them?)
Interestingly, of all the journeys I’ve been on, both creatively and in my travels, it was the emotional process of ‘coming home’ that was most challenging, and, as I later discovered, the most rewarding. What began as a cathartic travel debrief to help understand my emotions upon returning home, turned into a book, The Inner Fire.
It’s an exploration of what I call the “phoenix cycle” experienced by all travellers: New experiences growing into great joy then fading, followed by absence and grief, and then back into something new.
Western society teaches us that loss equates to grief. Travelling teaches us that the Little Grief is everywhere; that this grief isn’t about experiencing a death of some part of us.
I explore the question of ‘what if this is just the spark of something new?’, and answer it through my two years living in the “phoenix cycle.” Peppered with the lives and experiences of others who have experienced life-changing shifts, this book takes you on a journey: An emotional ride through some of life’s deepest, sometimes unexpected, feelings.
Culture shock is a well-used term and something that, as a society, we know to prepare for. But what about the opposite – reverse culture shock? Whether you’re a leisure traveller, volunteer, a digital nomad or expat, the psychological journey of ‘coming home’ is a topic that doesn’t get spoken about enough.
Although it’s not fully understood, almost every traveller experiences it in some part.
Travelling is so much more than sightseeing. It’s an unpeeling of layers, as I like to call it – a removing of the lens. All experiences we have accumulate and change our identity.
Often, we don’t realise how much we’ve grown until we return. We come back with an evolved character, yet we’re expected to slip back into our old environment, like nothing has changed.
Tell us a bit about your book:
I use personal anecdotes to colour this part-narrative, part self-help book, which weaves through themes such as home, place, loneliness, identity construction, memories, addictions, and psyche. I introduce the voice of both travellers and non-travellers, because we all go through major identity shifts in life – something that I wanted to draw comparisons between.
The Inner Fire provides readers with frameworks and suggestions on how to overcome detachment in an empowering way, using real-world examples and psychological input.
For example, one theory I explore is the W-Curve Hypothesis Mode, which details the four phases to leaving and coming home: The honeymoon, crisis, recovery and adjustment.
Upon returning ‘home’, the traveller experiences a honeymoon period where they are the centre of attention, for a short time, reconnecting with old friends and spending time with family.
Everything is still new, something that the traveller has become accustomed to while being away. Yet cultural differences and the stresses of re-entry soon replace the honeymoon period. This can happen quickly and plunge them into severe, reverse culture shock.
Readers will learn about psychological adaptation and can use my findings to help their own journey.
The Inner Fire will be released early next year.
What advice would you give long-term travellers who struggle with this reverse culture shock?
We all go through it. Whether you returned from a two-week trip or have relocated and are visiting family, the emotional journey of ‘coming home’ is a process every traveller experiences. So, just remember that you’re not alone in this, and it doesn’t mean that you won’t reconnect with your culture. Sometimes, it just takes time.
And what advice would you give a girlfriend who wanted to start out as a traveller?
Go for it girl! It’ll give you gifts that you never would have imagined. But, try to avoid going in with an idealised view of the lifestyle. Like everything, it has its downsides too.
Make sure to follow my character-driven travel essays on my travel platform: https://www.locotravelmagazine.com.
For business enquiries, contact me via my creative writing business: http://www.amandasmithwriter.com.au.
Quick Fire Round:
When I feel lonely, I… remind myself that there’s a difference between loneliness and being alone. Usually, I’m not lonely, I’m just physically alone.
My favourite location for travelling workers is … I fell in love with Lisbon, Portugal, last year.
The one item I always pack is… my MacBook.
My favourite tool/app/resource is… to be honest, I love checking out local Facebook groups whenever I get to a new city or country.
In 5 years time I want to … be speaking on a TedX stage as a thought-leader on the topic of reverse culture shock and how movement affects our identities.
My all-time favourite quote is …
love the life you live, live the life you love.
Thank you so much, Amanda, for sponsoring this blog interview ahead of your upcoming book launch! We wish you all the best with your launch. It’s also coming at a great time because I think as digital nomads, a lot of us are familiar with the struggle of reverse culture shock when returning to our home countries.