Posts by: "Marcia DeSanctis"

February 2, 2017
Happily, Tin House put my essay on Graham Greene’s The Comedians online. It originally ran in the journal as a Lost & Found. Here are some photos of the Hotel Oloffson in Port-au-Prince today. In the book, Greene called the hotel Le Trianon.

Last year, I wrote an essay about my mother and her love of Morocco. This week, it won a Lowell Thomas Award from the Society of American Travel Writers in the Personal Comment category. It’s my fifth essay that has been honored by the SATW, and it gets more exciting every time. Here’s what the judges said: 1-SATWFoundation_2012_jpg

Silver: Marcia DeSanctis, “Time or the Sahara Wind,” Tales To Go
A photo album brings back memories not only of trips taken but also, as importantly, of the photographer herself — the writer’s mother, who now is lost in the mists of Alzheimer’s. This personal and poignant story reminds readers of the fragility of life.

Again, the photo in the story.

Again, the photo in the story.

This is me, back then.

This is me, back then.


I’ve been asked a lot lately how I became a travel writer. The answer is, by accident. But it was this story – about a woman I met in Moscow, a memoir from the Cold War – that launched my career. I submitted it everywhere (and I mean everywhere – one fancy editor said, “There’s not enough to it,” when he passed) and finally, it was accepted by the literary magazine, The Coachella Review. Then, someone suggested I submit it to Best Women’s Travel Writing, Travelers’ Tales essential series that should be required reading for all budding travel writers. I never thought of it as a travel story, but I since have learned that travel writing defies categorization and comes in all shapes and sizes. I wrote a version that was quite a bit longer and updated to reflect a recent trip to Moscow, and it was accepted for the anthology. That year, it won a Solas Grand award for Best Travel Story of the Year. Then, Masha won a Lowell Thomas Award for Essay/Personal Comment from the Society of American Travel Writers, and last, was published on Geoex by my friend and fellow writer, Don George. In short, Masha launched my career.

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I never thought I’d contribute to the vast canon of writers-on-writing essays, but here is one, called ‘There is No Handbook for This’ that I wrote about second-career writers (like me) for The Millions. What I meant to say, and hope it somehow came across is that, every one of us took a different path to get here, and all are singular and legitimate. No matter what our method, and what our level of success, we all spend our day the same way: in imperfect solitude, battling doubt, swatting away the distractions that gallop across our consciousness. A lot of the time, it is anything but pleasant. Always, it is my choice to be doing this.

I am writing because I want to. My work originates in the shadowy recesses of the mind and even in the most parched or fallow times, it is still the land of plenty. There is success, failure and everything in between. But mostly there is the labor, the constant lassoing of thoughts into sentences. It would be difficult if it weren’t actually so simple. Or maybe, it’s the other way around.