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Media Minds: Becca Hensely

Becca Hensley: Travel and Lifestyle Writer

Becca Hensley isn’t just a travel writer—she’s been described as “the writer’s writer” by her peers due to her undeniable knack for storytelling and vividly painting a picture with her pen. As Becca describes herself: “Always curious, an on-the-go bon vivant, I publish tales for travelers–and write about other lifelong indulgences that fall beneath the umbrella of travel: food, wine, spa, art, beauty, fitness, design and beyond.”

With an expertise in all things Austin, international travel and lifestyle and a focus on the less obvious luxurious experiences in life, Becca Hensley has been published in hundreds of notable media outlets, including the Travel Channel, USA Today, National Geographic Traveler, Weddings & Honeymoons, Destinations and the Austin American-Statesman. She dishes on hotels, food, drink, spas, art, design, people and nature.

In addition, you can read her monthly columns in Austin Monthly and San Antonio Magazine. Want to learn what makes Becca Hensley tick? Read on.

When did you know you wanted to be a journalist?

I never really wanted to be a journalist. But, I always wanted to be a writer.

What made you decide to become a freelancer?

I have been a writer since before I could write. I had no choice. It is how I process the world. I have never really done anything else.

What did you see as your big break in establishing yourself as a freelancer?

As a freelancer, you think the big break is what is coming next.

As a freelancer what are your biggest challenges and biggest opportunities?

The biggest challenge is that you never make enough money. The biggest opportunity is that you live like you do.

Today you are an amazing source regarding all things Austin and traveling. How do you manage it all?

I have voracious curiosity—and I satisfy it. I love juggling. And I have what the French call “art d’ vivre”—I live life with gusto to the fullest. The writing is part of that.

What makes a good story?

A good story is poetry. It stops you in your tracks and awakens your curiosity. It draws you in like laughter in a bar or the smell of bread baking on a back street in Paris. It challenges you to do it justice. It makes a difference in its telling. It changes the world—just a little bit, even if it is merely about skincare or a lamp. There is always something prodigious and human in every good story. A good story won’t let you stop telling it.

What story, in your career, are you most proud of?

That is impossibly hard. The stories I love the most are the ones where I feel like I nailed it—I told the story I wanted to tell. The ones I love best are always in the first person, without overdoing it. They use poetry and metaphor. They paint a picture, which people can’t stop talking about. They make my clients proud. And, when I read them later myself, I wonder, “Wow. Who wrote that?” Then, I realize, “Oh, it was me!”

What interview experience stands out in your mind?

I have interviewed so many outstanding people. My favorite interviews, though, were Pink Floyd in Stockholm at the Polar Prize festival and my ongoing and multiple interviews of Picasso’s former model, Angela Rosengart, now age 81, who runs an art museum in Lucerne.

As someone that writes for so many publications, what do you feel is happening with the role of the freelancer today?

I think lots of people are using freelancers. Our biggest problem is drawing a strong line between ourselves and wannabe writers or bloggers. Everyone should write for fun, but they should not join our fray. It takes a lot of hard work to get where we are—it isn’t a game or a hobby. It is our lifeblood.

What’s your biggest pet peeve as a writer?

When you kill yourself to get a story in by deadline, only to discover the editor is on vacation for a couple of weeks. And, PR professionals who don’t do their homework or trust your record.

What story do you wish you could have covered or hope to to cover?

I have seen the gorillas, the tigers and a dazzle of zebras or two—but I still need to see some polar bears.

What famous historical figure do you wish you could have interviewed and why?

Dian Fossey because I love gorillas, Anne Sexton to know her pain, Edith Head so she could design a dress for me, Flannery O’Connor so we could talk Catholicism, Rasputin so I could decide if he was mystic or sham.

Why is journalism rewarding to you?

Don’t tell anybody, but I would write for free. If I don’t write, I might explode. I don’t have a choice.

What makes you tick and why do you do what you do?

Abundant curiosity, a need to live life to its fullest, a penchant for art, style and color, a great love for humanity and nature, and an addiction and obsession with words, metaphor, and storytelling drive me like nothing else. Seriously, what else could I do?

To stay in-the-know on the latest from Becca Hensley, follower her on Twitter at @BeccaHensley.

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