Posts Tagged 'Writing'

Pick Your Own

When I gather articles to share it sometimes feels a lot like wandering through one of those Pick Your Own orchards. When I was a kid we used to visit the strawberry fields, and later blueberries, and towards October, the apple orchards. (For sunny childhood memories, I highly recommend letting your kid stain her or his hands in berry fields)

But oh boy, the internet is like everything in season all at once. And not just berries and apples, but also mangos and starfruit and Cava. The infinite choices, and the enormous wealth of apples–er, articles–give me two contradictory instincts: I want to grab every single article worth sharing--totally unrealistic, and pretty greedy as well–but I also want to search every single tree and find only the ripest, roundest, juiciest articles.

So I’m going with secret method 3, which is the various interesting fruits I’ve picked up along the side of the road from Colorado to Columbus.

Only The Juiciest Links

The Return of The Printed Blog via Cision Navigator

Time to Let Go of Social Clutter via Leigh Reyes

10 Best books of 2010 from the New York Times. Except–wait–the Early Word blog has been collecting all of the “Best Books 2010” lists. Like literally, every one that has been published. So if you need reading recommendations, they’ve got the motherload.

I love this list of the 10 Happiest Jobs from Mint.com blog, and their commentary.

Side Note: I really love the Mint.com blog. I always hesitate to follow financial blogs because all they write about is, well, money. They leave out all of the subtle non-monetary things that affect the economy and one’s finances. And yeah, I get that money is the bread and butter of a capitalist society, but frequently financial writers/bloggers/journalists just seem to have blinders on. Money doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and I like that Mint’s financial blog is thoughtful, ethical, and culturally conscious. Plus they always have great infographics.

Gender Analysis predicts the gender of any homepage, using… some sort of data, I’m sure. If I had the free time, I’d contact this website to see what their method for analysis is. (P.S. Thanks to FPNOkami for the tweet that eventually lead to me this!)

Hooray for inspiration! Slide show review of 2010 watercolor artists (via Brush – Paper – Water)

It’s never too early for wish-lists. In this case, from the new Exaclair catalogue (via Rhodia Drive)

The best articles from 2010 on art, marketing, and social media (via FineArtTips.com)

Why You Learn More Effectively by Writing than Typing (via Lifehacker)

A post on Fearless Creativity from the Etsy Storque. I could use a little fearlessness right now.

In the News – InkGeek / ArtGeek Version

» 50 best blogs for watercolor artists (via Web Design Schools Guide)

» The Lost Art of Letter Writing (via The Guardian)

» Reading, Writing and Revelation (via Ode Magazine)

» I’m utterly infatuated with the watercolor-calligraphy hybrid on this wedding invitation. I think I want to get married just for the crafting possibilities.

» The New York Times came out with their 100 Notable Books of 2010. Yummy reading.

» Um, On the off chance that you someday need to know how different types of paper affect the waterproof-ness of waterproof inks, read this thread!

» General Inquiry: Has anyone ever bought a fountain pen from Etsy? They’re always so beautiful; I just want to read a review first…

» Also, look at this beautiful watercolor!*

» Russell Black is a watercolor artist based out of Utah. I love the way his bright, blocky style works with the softness of watercolor.

Russell Black

» I’ve been seeing Marion Bolognesi linked a lot around the internet over the past week. (I wonder what caused the sudden jump on the hip-meter?) I first caught her work a few months ago; she’s got that great fashion-vibe.. and super technique when it comes to facial features.

Marion Bolognesi

Can you tell I spent a few hours on Etsy yesterday? As a rule, I rarely let myself browse Etsy because I can easily waste an entire day browsing instead of oh, say, actually creating something. But it’s good to indulge every once in a while, and thus the linkage love.

Sigh, I should open up a shop myself one of these days… it can’t hurt to try, right?

Airport Exercises for Writers

Being something of a shy girl, you’d think that airports would overwhelm me the same way that theme parks and state fairs do. But airports are some of my favorite places, especially the teeny tiny local ones and the big international ones. They’re a writer’s dream: basically a full cast of characters to pick and choose from.

Airport Exercises for Writers

Look at the makeup of the crowds waiting at each gate. Study the general differences between gates and imagine what that says about the place. For example: On my recent flight, there was a disproportionately high presence of camo and hunting boots at the gate to Akron, OH.

Try to guess who’s visiting that place and who’s flying home. A lot of the people flying from Denver to Ohio had small babies. It turns out that a lot of young couples move to Colorado, but have to take the baby to visit their parents back East. Maybe this shows that we as a culture still have an idealized view about “moving out West” to make a fresh start, or to get away from family…

When you book your flight, schedule a leisurely layover. Think about it this way: you may spend a whole day in airports but you won’t rush to catch a flight, and you can use the extra time as professional development. Grab a drink at the bar, set up in a central area, and…

Watch. Airports are emotional places. People say goodbye, part ways, start new lives, reunite with old friends. Watch those stories unfold, and make sure to record as much detail as possible.

Eavesdrop. People don’t really read anymore when they’re waiting for a flight; they talk on their phone. Oftentimes, they talk about the trip from which they’re returning (or on which they are embarking). On my flight back to Colorado, a group of six black women with leopard-print luggage, obviously close friends, were discussing their friend’s son who had either a) committed suicide or b) been institutionalized (couldn’t quite figure out which). Apparently this kid’s dad had experienced similar problems, and they wondered if it was genetic; mostly, they talked about how their friend (the mother) should have dealt with the situation, and how she should deal with it now.

Use your flight to write. It’s the ideal setup for a writer: no internet for distractions, a handy tray that doubles as a desk, and snacks served right to you.

Putting the NaNoWriMo Pledge to Work

I admit that I’ve had mixed feelings about NaNoWriMo, the cult-like offshoot project celebrating National Novel Writing Month. I wrote it off as the domain of fanfiction nerds, and I felt that it prioritized fast writing over good writing. Our culture is already saturated with bad writing, thoughtless publishing, and excessive wordiness, and I’m not sure if we should be encouraging people to add to that.

On the other hand, it’s a program that gets people writing, which is undeniably a Good Thing.

The goal is to write a 175 page (50,000 word) novel by midnight on November 30. NaNoWriMo defends the “kamikaze” approach where the only thing that matters is that you reach the finish line:

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that’s a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

(from the website)

I respect this approach: many writers are so intimidated by the vision of a finished, perfect work that they just flail around, stunted, during the writing process. NaNoWriMo’s approach says: set aside your dreams of book jacket designs and New York Times reviews. Just write.

Aspiring writers also have trouble grasping the concept of “work ethic” when it comes to writing. Like any other job, a writer must sit down at a desk and produce words on a page, even when the Muse is MIA.

So that’s how I’ll be using the NaNoWriMo challenge this November: to sit down and get working on some projects I’ve had on my Big Career To Do list. I don’t expect to finish by November 30, but I do expect to have a draft sitting on my desk, and to be finally in the momentum of the project.

Artist/Writer Stranded Without A Book

I’ve written before about the importance of journals, art journals– whatever you want to call the Blank Book that causes you to stop, reflect, and articulate. Art journalers may not use text the way that a ‘traditional’ journaler does, but art journals still offer the same benefit; instead of articulating in words, the journaler is visually articulating his or her experiences, thoughts, feelings. The important thing is the reflection and processing of the, um, ‘external’ world.

So basically, I’m Without A Book.

Right now.

–> Look, no panic mode! (Okay, maybe a little panic mode). I finished a wonderful Fabriano Venezia art journal right before leaving on my road trip. (For the record, the Venezia journal was reviewed by Biffybeans as “glorious,” and I have to agree). But now it has been three weeks, and I’m still without a Book.

It turns out that this is quite the interesting experiment for an artist and writer. I’ve found that all my journaling energy has been redirected onto many different projects. Not only have I been using several different sketchbooks, but I’ve also begun some large-scale paintings, which I don’t do very often. As for writing, I’ve been directing a lot of that energy into poems, which I’m mostly composing on half-empty Rhodia pads around the apartment.

In general, it feels a lot more productive. Maybe it has been valuable to let go of my perfectionist tendencies and just CREATE, no matter the surface and no matter the medium.

But, I do have a fancypants new journal in the mail, so look for an upcoming review.

In the meantime, here are some sketches: (as always, click for full view)

A picnic lunch at Manitou Springs

10 minute sketch of our tent, just as it got too dark to draw.

Writers Who Paint, Painters Who Write

Funny how moving into an apartment makes you remember all the little things you don’t own, and have always borrowed.

…like pencil sharpeners.

I’ve been doing a lot of art lately, including a large acrylic painting for the wall of our apartment. I haven’t painted in a very long time, so it was a good exercise. Art is a good balance to writing, which I’ve also been doing a lot of. I’m beginning to submit to chapbook competitions– mustn’t let my poetry major die after graduation! And because writing requires so much critical thought, so much paying attention… Art is like therapy for a writer.

A College Career in Journals

My senior year of high school, I carried a moleskine notebook with me at all times. I was slowly (and painfully) detaching myself from high school, and I didn’t speak much that year– everything went into the book. It was sort of a compulsion, really: I had this tiny, meticulous handwriting, and I wrote in complete, cohesive sentences, often in essay-style. I copied down every quote that was meaningful to me, every conversation I overheard, nearly every unique thought that passed through my mind. And I neatly pasted in every receipt, ticket stub, every scrap of paper that I came across. My doodles were always photo-realistic, never imaginative. Looking back on it now, I see that year as a process of collecting the disparate scraps of myself before leaving for college.

So then, the turning point: I went to see a film with my dad, and my bag was stolen from under my seat. With my journal in it.

…and I learned the very important lesson, that you should always keep yourself whole enough to survive a stolen book.

Catharsis

I think my mistake was trying to make it honest and beautiful at the same time. I remember writing down horribly secret things that I had never spoken or written before: mortified, and brutally protective of the book afterwards. That honesty was necessary, but I had to set a lot of very restrictive boundaries for writing at the time: I only wrote in pencil, because I didn’t want to see any crossed-out mistakes. I would erase and re-erase until I had accurately articulated the feeling, event or thought that I wanted to convey. If I forgot to paste a ticket stub in, I felt furious– like something was missing and the book was incomplete. And I never allowed myself to go back and read my earlier writing.

After that book was stolen, I didn’t journal for my entire first year at college. It was too painful, and I was exhausted. I didn’t have the energy to put my life together so compactly again.

As it turns out, that painful transition was a Seriously Great Thing. For the first time in my life, I really embraced the place that I was in (which is to say, college). I explored it. I introduced myself to people, I put myself out there, I took risks. I cut my hair off. I got straight A’s, fell in love, twice, and began to see myself better, and more clearly. Basically, I put my energy into my life instead.

Back to the Book

But let’s face it, I’m a creative writing major: I need some paper in my life. I transferred schools, feeling infinitely grateful to my first college and peaceful about leaving it. This time, when I returned to the habit of writing things down, I began using a pen. Which meant I crossed things out, a lot, and my handwriting was larger and looser. I also discovered how inferior moleskine paper is.

And this time, I tried to be okay with leaving things out. I sought a balance between living my life, and distilling it onto paper. I reconnected with the art of writing itself, received my first fountain pen from my dad, and began to think more critically about the environmental impact of being a writer…

I can’t say that my three years of living at Kenyon were more meaningful than my first year at Hollins. But I can say that (slowly and consciously) I began to integrate writing into my life in a healthy way– a way that I could see playing into my future and my profession.

And shucks, it does feel nice to look at that stack of notebooks and know that my tumultuous, rewarding college career is messily contained within it.


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