Finding Inspiration

I am a firm believer that to be a writer, one need only to write.

The past year, I have written about completely disparate subjects in almost every genre, from relationship advice, to composting tips, great wineries in the Northwest, and both fiction and non-fiction for different clients. I have written about reading academic and literary and casual novels, Ryan Gosling, Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, Bollywood/ Kollywood movies, and painting on this site.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the point.

I’ve written a lot of different stuff lately.

And you know what? It has been really fun!

A picture I took a few years back in the Black Hills, South Dakota.

Waiting around for inspiration and writing only when a brilliant idea knocks you over the head will produce little, and will also not give you much practice.

That is how I used to write. I was worried that my everyday writing was too mundane, that nobody would ever read it, etc.

Although it’s tough for me to admit, my identity as a writer has been tenuously forming for years.

Even thought I have always identified with writers and have always enjoyed writing, I never had much confidence that I could be a really good writer. I have that confidence now, but it is because of the daily practice, and the feeling it leads to, rather than coming up with something “groundbreaking” or “great.”

That being said, I now write for a few various reasons.

The primary ones are as follows:

  • I like to read, and I like to create a “finished” product to share with others.
  • I feel compelled to do it, to express myself through words.
  • I enjoy talking, (as anyone who knows me can tell you, I’m sure), and writing is another form of speaking to me.

Like I said before, my identity as a writer has been tenuously forming for years, but I have always wanted to write, to “be a writer,” and to produce written works.

However, it is only recently that I have felt confident in calling myself a writer. That is because lately, I have really dedicated myself to writing on a regular basis.

I took a fiction writing workshop in graduate school, something I’d always been terrified of. Having other readers was empowering. I wrote and edited for a living starting this past summer, (2011).

Now I write all the time. I write articles for you all and for an online magazine, for example. It makes me feel amazing, but I was always afraid of writing before. I think I knew that it would make me incandesantly happy.

I’m ready for that happiness now in a way I wasn’t before.

Some installation art I came across one day in Pioneer Square, Seattle. Loved the paper hanging from trees!

I write to write, but I also do get inspired, and some days I definitely need a push. So, I’d like to share what pushes me to write:

  • Reading. I feel there is a strong connection between reading and being a good writer. When I read the words of others, it is inspiring to me. I feel connected with their psyche, with their way of painting the world around them or around their characters. I find reading endlessly fascinating, and it’s what inspired me to write in the first place.
  • Artwork. When I am looking at art, I feel inspired to create. To draw, to paint, and to write. While living in London for a semester and taking primarily art-based classes, I journaled more than I have in my entire life. Looking at pins on Pinterest and pinning to my boards there is also part of this inspiration for me, as silly as it may sound. Love that site!
  • The feeling that comes from finishing or sharing a piece of art or writing with an audience, for example, with you all here. Not going to lie, it feels great to publish, even when the publishing happens on my own blog.
  • Beautiful scenes in nature, like the above photo from Custer State Park in the Black Hills, one of my all time favorite places for inspiration.

To move beyond writing for myself in my journal has been really rewarding. Audience matters. Readers matter. Thank you all for reading my posts- I truly appreciate you!

As many of you are also writers, I’d love to know- what inspires you to write?

Cheers,

Miss E

The Brownings’ Books

Hello!

I recently found a used book store over in the University District at Magus Books, and had a lovely time browsing the shop for quite some time.

I was most excited when I found two old twin books from the same publishing run, Oxford 1932, for a very good bargain. One is Robert Browning’s Poems, and the other is Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Poetical Works.

They are so fun I wanted to share them with you. Ta da!

The Twin Books

The gold insignia on the cover of each, very simple and elegant.

Don't they look lovely there?

I was interested in them originally because not only are they beautiful and well-looking together, but because of the titles. The super nerd in me noticed immediately that the titles are gendered.

Robert Browning is a “Poet,” also known as a man, and therefore has “Poems.” Elizabeth is a woman, and therefore has “Poetical Works.”

Apparently, despite finishing my masters, I am still interested in examining the language of gender.

Not only does the second title sound more whimsical, it implies that the works are more sentimental, or more feminine. It could also imply, because it is similar but longer than the word “poems” that her work is “Poem- ish.” At first it doesn’t seem like an important distinction, but the more one thinks about it, the more of an interesting move the distinction becomes.

The covers and books in most other manners look about the same. Here are some pictures:

Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Title Page

Robert Browning's photograph and Title Page

As you can see, Robert’s title page has more wording, and is more specific about the works included in his volume. Elizabeth’s has less specific information under the title, and just says “With two prose essays.” So, his work was definitely given a bit more title page respect, although I am not sure that EBB was as well known until later.

I am wondering- does any scholarly reader or historian know when EBB was becoming more popular in the 20th century? I know that manuscripts I read certainly painted this couple as one of interest, and there seemed to have been a very large following of both RB and EBB, so I’m wondering when reception shifted. Of course, there was major bias in the discussion of EBB’s work in periodicals and etc., because she was not only somewhat foreign and seen as eccentric, but was also a female writer.

Btw, the text in both books looks the same:

Inside the Books

Both have sort of a newspaper or periodical quality to them, and are somewhat biblical in their formatting.  Both books have similar font, and the same layout throughout. EBB’s is shorter altogether in page length, but many of her most famous poems like “cry of the children” are included.

Hope you enjoyed my discovery, and if you know the answer to the above query, please pitch in through comments!

Cheers,

Miss E

Pondering Publishing in Barnes and Noble

Today I was at Barnes and Noble, contemplating the demise of Borders and the state of the publishing world today. I felt conflicted. Let me give some context for this. As an English-y person, I have kind of become a bookstore connoisseur. I go to all bookstores and libraries- independent, corporate, independent-used, and coffee shop bookstores. I have even been to a bookstore with a bar. I have never been incredibly discriminating about my bookstores, at least not the ones I will go into and purchase a book from. If there are books there, usually I will buy them.

However, since I have moved to Seattle, a place where local business thrives more than anywhere else I have ever lived, I have been going to a ton of great local bookstores. For example, yesterday afternoon I was in a charming bookstore in my neighborhood, one I was seeking out even on short visits before I moved. So yeah, it’s that amazing.

Anyways, at said charming independent bookstore yesterday, I had the best customer service I have ever experienced in a bookstore. I as having a casual conversation with an employee there who was really friendly. He was stocking books and we began discussing what I like to call “Bus Books.” I ride the bus to work every day, and so far I have finished 3 books on the bus. I don’t read them anywhere else- they are just for my commute. They have to be both light, and intriguing enough to grab me at 6:50am when I may have slept 5 hours the night before.

He knew exactly the book he thought I should read. One by Thomas Hardy- Far From the Madding Crowd. Apparently there is also a very amazingly cheesy looking movie. I have not read much Hardy, but from what he described from the story, it seems perfect for both me and the bus.  Has anyone else read this one or seen the movie?

I found the image a few different places, but linked to one of the websites below with a review of the book: http://myggm.org/book-discussion-far-from-the-madding-crowd/

At the corporate bookstore today, I just wasn’t feeling it. Everything felt so sterile, despite all of the books on the shelves.  All the books were shiny and new, many were hardcover, and almost all of the employees were wearing suits (it was in a fancy pants shopping center downtown).  Compared to the bookstore from the day before, I felt isolated and uninspired to buy.

I have not been buying most of my books at full price this whole summer, but more for cost-cutting and a sort of pseudo rebellion against capitalism. However, I feel guilty about it. About only buying books from my favorite, local, bookstores. Conflicted, as stated earlier. Why?

If we don’t support the bookstores that buy their books directly from the publishers, they may stop being able to make books altogether. I do not enjoy reading from a nook, thank you very much. I want that book smell, that physical relationship with the book where you eventually break the spine from reading it so much. So, in order to keep book production going, and be able to go to my favorite local used bookstore, I may need to buy an occasional book from Barnes and Noble. Because if Borders is any indication, the market for paper copy books is diminishing and may continue to decline as online and paperless media rises. So when I finish my current bus book, I may go to a B&N before hitting up my local place for another one.

What do you guys think? Do the pros of local bookstores outweigh the possible cons?

Cheers,

Miss E