If you are planning to travel and write about it afterwards, the message of They Went is that you can travel as an incomplete person and work out who you are by traveling to other places, or as a complete person who wants to see another part of the world. Adrea Lee and Vivian Gornick were reporters who were incomplete persons working out their own minds. Calvin Trillin and Ian Frazier went out to report on the United States with completeness in their every step. Mark Salzman and Tobias Schneebaum did their travels without an audience in mind. But Salzman wrote about where he visited, and Schneebaum wrote as a way of dealing with past events and "personal demons." All six authors include practical advice for travel writing, if you look for it. From Frazier you can see the example of visiting a place, reading about it, and revisiting it to see it more clearly. You can follow Frazier's advice to take the favorite things you want to write about most and put them together as a book. From Lee you can learn "to draw on whatever passion and empathy you can, based on your own experience, and then step back and stay out of the picture." From Salzman you can learn to string together "small, jewel like episodes" into chapters for your book. From Gornick , how to keep files on people you know and not let your subject get away from you. From Trillin you can learn how to "individualize by specific detail" in your writing, and from Schneebaum you can learn that you should use a journal to organize you experiences.
Volume 6 (1991)of the NYPL Writer's Craft annual series; includes Ian Frazier on the American Great Plains, Andrea Lee on living in Russia as an Afro-American, Mark Salzman on China, Vivian Gornick on Egypt, Calvin Trillin on writing about America for The New Yorker, and Tobias Schneebaum on Indonesia; the editor is William Zinsser, the author of the classic "On Writing Well".