Client Spotlight: I Am Not Making This Up

Erla Zwingle writes about her life in Venice, Italy on her blog “I am Not Making This Up“. It’s been running since April 2009 and there are hundreds of articles on everything you could want to know about Venice, good and bad!

My blog is about what I call “real Venice” — not the postcard, touristic, guidebook viewpoint of the famous city (though I’ve also written a guidebook) but the everyday life of what is an amazing, surprising, frustrating small town.
I Am Not Making This Up

I focus on two primary aspects: What it’s like for me to live here, things I do, people I know, etc, and what’s like for the few remaining Venetians who live here. It’s a struggle for everybody but there are many compensations.

In other words, the blog is my response to the question people often ask me: “What’s it like to live in Venice?” Often followed by “I really envy you,” “It must be amazing,” “I wish I could live here,” and so on. To which I apply a blast of reality, for better or worse.

I have two main types of readers: People who have been to Venice, sometimes many times, and who want to know the city better, and those who haven’t been to Venice but would like to imagine they have. In any case, my reader is someone who has some context — either through lots of travel, or interest in history, or interest in curious places and things — for the viewpoint I give on the city.

I have been fascinated, since the first time I came here as a tourist in 1985, by the world “behind the curtain,” so to speak. Everyone who comes here inevitably remarks that the city seems like a stage set, but I prefer the life backstage.

I wasn’t able to satisfy this curiosity as a tourist, but things changed when I came here as a journalist in 1994 on assignment for National Geographic to write about exactly the city that I wanted to know (“Venice: More than a Dream,” National Geographic, February 1995). Unexpectedly, I fell in love and married a Venetian and have been here ever since.

I started writing the blog because I got fed up with the endlessly repetitive stereotypes and outright misinformation that is written about the city. It’s unbelievable how many wrong ideas people who don’t live here manage to accumulate about Venice and how few ways they have to correct those ideas (assuming they care).
I Am Not Making This Up
My blog is my way to address that imbalance between truth and myth. It’s pretty much a personal crusade, though I suppose if somebody wants to imagine a mythical Venice that exists only in fantasy, there’s nothing wrong with that. What I am combatting are the published statements which range from moderately incorrect to completely fabricated.

I named my blog “iamnotmakingthisup” to reinforce the fact that whatever I write is verifiably true, because many, many things that happen here seem impossible, though true, and many things which are written about the city are also impossible and untrue.

I am an American, a professional journalist and have written for publication for more than 30 years; among my best articles are the 20 or so stories I’ve written for National Geographic magazine (where I also spent four years as a full-time editor).

Because my work has taken me to so many different places I’m sometimes characterized as a travel writer, but that isn’t quite right. My few attempts to write for travel magazines have been disasters (I suppose because I’m not inclined to tell people how to travel, where to stay, or what to eat).

What I do is write about subjects that require me to be in some foreign place that happens to be the location of some other event or problem, but not as a place to go to on vacation. Though if you feel like going to Lagos, Nigeria on vacation, go right ahead.

Being a complete imbecile where computers are concerned, undertaking the blog was a big step forward into unknown territory, and you (and Andrew) have been my life-savers. Your intelligence, knowledge, kindness, and patience have kept me going in assorted difficult moments and I have come to depend on you both for quick answers and good sense.

I can’t say we’ve worked together on anything in particular, I’ve just thrown you urgent questions which you have answered with fantastic skill.

Thanks Erla! If you want to be featured in a client spotlight, please simply contact me.