Michael Totten

Writing While Traveling

by Michael J. Totten
I find it difficult to write the long dispatches you’re accustomed to reading while traveling. It takes the better part of a week for me to transcribe the interviews on my voice recorder and the observations and quotes in my notebooks, organize and upload photographs, and write a well-written and thoughtful feature-length article. It doesn’t make much sense to spend so much time doing all that while I’m paying for a hotel room and need to be out doing field work. None of my material from Kosovo and the surrounding area is time-sensitive anyway.
In a few days I will be home and can sit down and do some serious writing. I’ll try to have another short piece or two for you to read in the meantime. Thanks for being patient while I’m abroad, and thanks again to Tony Badran and Lee Smith for helping out when they can.
The Balkans is a bottomlessly fascinating region where everything I’ve learned in the Middle East is turned upside down. It’s like an alternate history novel here, and it’s too bad the region fell off the media map after September 11, 2001. (The Kosovo War, if you recall, occurred only two years before.) If the Kurds of Iraq are instructive foils for Arabs — and they are — they’ve got nothing on the Albanians in Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Albania proper.
PS — Considering the latest developments in Lebanon, I most likely will return to Beirut again sooner than I expected.