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:
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.
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.
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.