Working in Seattle

Hello everyone! Hope your Tuesday/Wednesday is going well.

Lately I have been reading blogs that have “Wordless Wednesdays.” Have you ever heard of that? It’s when blogs have a series of pictures, or one picture instead of a prose post.

I do not think I’ll start doing Wordless Wednesdays, but I did want to share some fun pics I took of writing in Seattle yesterday with you. Nothing serious today- just fun Seattle sunshine and latte art from a place you should definitely check out- Zoka coffee shop.

The Space Needle with sun in Seattle

Love it when the sun comes out in Seattle!

With the flash!

Different angle- no flash.

Love the new pattern.

about 1/2 the way through

Ah, I love my coffee while writing. It makes me more productive, although I usually don’t order lattes. Just regular black coffee. I am also very glad to have finally found a few places that serve delicious lattes (although coffee is everywhere here, truly great coffee shops are bizarrely difficult to find in Seattle, which shocks me). Zoka definitely makes one of the best lattes I’ve ever had in my lifetime.

In other good news, these pictures were all taken with my cell phone camera, as are many of the ones I post here. If you have a larger screen, you might be grossed out by the poor image quality/ pixels. However, my wonderful friend gave me an old Nikon digital camera yesterday. As you might have guessed, I will use it to take pictures, and will then post those (way better than cell phone quality) pictures to the blog! I’m very excited about it, and hope that it will make your reading experience better.

Do you drink coffee while writing?  Something else? Nothing at all?

Let me know if you have any suggestions!

Cheers,

Miss E

Writer’s March, a Recap

Hello readers,

As you may remember, I had entered a challenge for the event Writer’s March (discussed in this previous post).  My challenge to myself was to write at least a page a day of personal writing every day for the entire month of March. I am here to give you a recap of my experience.

So, I may or may not have written sporadically, as I always do. At first, I tried to write my page every night before bed, but that only worked for about 10 days. Then, I started writing my page (or less, or more) in the mornings and while waiting for my tutoring students. I did not necessarily accomplish my goal, but I also wouldn’t call the challenge an unmet failure either. There wasn’t a page of personal writing every day, but some days I wrote thousands of words of personal writing, including the start of a fiction story that might become something interesting.

I did write a lot more in my journal for the month of March than I have been. Even if it was only a few sentences some days, I think it was quite productive. I did think about it practically every day, although some days I actually just forgot. Oops.

So, at the end of this month what were my creative gains?

  1. Learning more about my writing needs. I didn’t realize how that daily practice of writing non-fiction articles had really shifted my writing tone, until I started trying to write fiction again. It was a pretty startling change. I think I need to keep following other writers’ blogs, and keep challenging myself to write for myself even if I am tired.
  2. I started singing, more cell phone pictures, and oil painting again. Oddly enough, thinking of what I needed to do in terms of writing opened up a lot of other creative outlets for me. I have also been more inspired lately to dream big, and have decided to create a list of creative goals for myself to enrich my life.

    Typing for Pemberley (and many other projects)

  3. Despite the fact that I was partaking in a challenge for Writer’s March, I also seemed to keep encountering facts and information about NaNoWriMo, the writer’s month in November that challenges people to write an entire novel in a month. Information about this event kept popping up this month, in books and on the internet. I think it’s a sign I need to write a longer work soon, a thousand words (ish) a day.
  4. I have learned that I need to be more kind to my wrists, and to write with pen and paper as often as possible. I am also going to start stockpiling money for a new computer. The tiny netbook was great for riding my bike around, but it is a little cramped for being a professional writer and working on it all day, every day. Nope, pen and paper are my friend I also think more clearly when I write with pen and paper as well.

4.5. My reading increased pretty dramatically, although I keep losing my books (so not sure I can count this as a whole gain). Really, losing books is quite a nuisance, and has never happened to me as much as it has this month. I am starting Ulysses, am reading short stories from Jane Austen Made Me Do It, was almost done with the Happiness Project (before I lost it), reading another Jane Austen continuation, The God of Animals, and a few other novels currently.  (I promise to have a book review for you in the coming weeks!) I am very close to the end in a few, if only I could find them.

I highly recommend checking out the Writer’s March site for helpful writing discussion and writing tips. Even though I may not have reached my goal in the traditional way, I did it in my roundabout way, which is really generally the way I do things, and has worked for me so far. It has been rewarding. Thanks to the creators of Writer’s March for their support, and thanks to my readers as well.

Cheers,

Miss E

Fun Center in my Mind: Best Songs for Getting in the “Write” Mood

What music is the best for productive writing? Well, it depends on what you are looking for that day. Some people can write with the same type of music on in the background every day, and some prefer to have no music at all.

I am unfortunately always most productive when I am surrounded by silence, like a vacuum- sealed library study room, but I love music, and try to incorporate it into my day whenever possible.

I usually listen to music when I write for at least half the day, and if I am in a loud coffee shop, I find headphone music incredibly useful for drowning out distracting conversations of patrons around me. As you may know by now, I do a “writing song of the day” on the Looking for Pemberley Facebook page. These songs often range from slow and gentle folk or blues, to fast-paced and energetic Cumbia music. Since I am looking for music that puts me in a certain mindset, I usually pay more attention to rhythm and tone than I do to the lyrics when choosing these songs every day.

Music can open up the "Fun Center" in my brain, provoke thought, and put me in the mood to write.

I have pretty eclectic music tastes, and like almost all types of music (with the exception of some scream0 and country music). Syncopated and complex beats are really interesting for me, since I was a percussionist back in the day. However, they are often very distracting for me and require my full attention, so I don’t like to listen to them when I am writing, even though I love them.

If it is raining outside, I will either try to pick a song that reflects the somber mood of the weather, or something more energetic to lighten my own mood and make writing easier.

Usually, I will listen to my Pandora stations or use another online streaming platform, and the song that first grabs me and gets me in the writing groove will be the one I share with you. Some days, I post the writing song of the day later in the day, because it takes that long for me to hear a song that puts me in the “write” state of mind.

I often listen to other music when driving (in the days when I had a car), cooking, or dancing than I do when I am writing. Writing music for me is also very different than editing music. In fact, when I am editing, I prefer complete stillness around me or music without lyrics. Although I can write faster without music, I enjoy adding it to the mix and seeing how it affects the finished product.

There are two ways that I combine music and writing.

  1. Listening to Music while I write or type. When I am listening to music, I am interacting with it, even when I write. Songs with a steady beat but kind of subtle lyrics really help me too. I can type to the beat of a song, or listen to music while I am writing that has presents the tone as the one I am trying to convey: energetic, melodramatic, alternative, edgy, angry, macabre, joyful, exploratory, etc. in very complex ways. Music is the best way to get me feeling a specific way. A great example of this is the song: 
  2. Reacting to a song after the fact is the other most frequent way I use music for my writing. Some songs do really have amazing lyrics, or fascinating tones (especially in classical music) that can conjure up dramatic stories in my head. When I was in middle school, a friend and I used to make up sagas and adventures that would be set to the songs we were playing, and it kind of became a habit. One example of this is the song: 

If there are lyrics, I think about what type of people or places they are referencing and it can spark a million subsequent thoughts. This is one of the reasons that sometimes I just can’t listen to songs with words or catchy refrains when I am writing- I end up Google searching lyrics and trying to learn them for my next Karaoke adventure.

Good writing songs, for me, need to fulfill one of these two roles- as mood/energy music, or as story inspiration in a way I can write and interact with, either during or before the writing process.

What makes a good writing song, in your opinion?

Cheers,

Miss E

Writer’s March

It can be a great thing to set goals for yourself in any area you want to improve in. Goals can give us direction and purpose, but also help us become more aware of our own needs.

I joined Writer’s March last night, and my resolution was to write at least 1 page a day for myself. It goes during the entire month of March, so you totally have time to join!

As stated on their goals page, I am a freelance writer, so I am writing all day, every day. I also write on the weekends and at night. One of the reasons I am a writer by profession is that I just very much enjoy writing.

However, I would also like to spend more time writing interesting posts for Looking For Pemberley. I also think that to continue being passionate about my writing, I need to write for myself.

Pretty! Maybe this can inspire your writing?!

What falls into my definition of writing for myself?

  • journal entries
  • short stories
  • personal blogging
  • writing for fun
  • poetry
  • cathartic writing

What does not count as writing for myself?

  • professional e-mails
  • e-mails of any kind, for that matter
  • articles for clients
  • comments on blog posts
  • typing search terms into Google 😉
  • letters of recommendation for former students
  • anything written with the intention of selling, advertising, or distributing to mass audiences via social media or blogging

1 page a day might seem like a tiny goal, but for me it feels pretty challenging. I currently don’t write for myself most days, not even a few words. Hopefully my goal will help revitalize my personal writing life, and improve my writing in other areas, including Looking for Pemberley. I would love to write more often here, and to write posts that you enjoy.

If you haven’t heard of Writer’s March yet, check it out! The talented writers working on that site have great insights into the life of writers, professional, student writers, and casual writers.

All the best,

Miss E

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

Moby Dick Door

I have been posting pretty frequently this week, primarily because all of Seattle was shut down in what you may have heard termed the “Snowpocalypse.”

Yeah, it snowed for a while, and it was cute.

We actually had skiiers going down our hill because the city doesn’t have plows (or very many of them).  Also, trapped inside with what could only be equally dramatized as the absolute the worst cold of my life for the past week, I have gotten a lot more time to rest and be online.

When I was looking for pictures to post onto my blog background, I came across a fun picture that I wanted to share with other Literature Nerds out on the internet.

A few years ago, I painted this on my closet door, in devotion to one of my favorite novels:

Image

Needless to say, it was an art project born of boredom and no regard for how much doors actually cost. However, I still quite enjoy it to this day whenever I visit my parents. Not sure they quite do, but I suppose it may have been better than some things you can put on a door.

The lower panel has a picture of Pip falling upside down in the multitudinous depths, and the door itself has quotes from the text all around the perimeters.

I believe one of my favorites is still the one I painted in the center underneath Ishmael who is floating on the coffin life-buoy.

“Dissect him how I may, I go but skin deep; I know him not, and never will…” Oh yeah!

Anyone want me to paint scenes from Literature on their doors for them?

Having a huge nerd moment,

Miss E

The “Best” Way to Say Goodbye

“Best?”

I have been thinking about something often lately. If I’m honest, it’s something pretty dorky and academic, although as you may have noticed, looking for pemberley supports both of those things. This post has nothing to do with my current or previous research, thesis, or the research of my friends and former colleagues that I am aware of, although if one of you rhetoric folks is reading and would like to speak up about this, I would love it.

For some reason I am endlessly fascinated by e-mail closings. I currently work in an office setting, and sometimes I send out e-mails to various contacts all day. My go-to e-mail closing, instead of sincerely or regards, etc. is “Best.”

Even though I have signed my e-mails with this closing for around 3 years now, I never thought I would adopt “Best” or become so attached to it as quickly as I have. There are unique and interesting ways to sign letters and e-mails, but best is a popular closing in academia. It is short, sweet, and somewhat formal, and has a nod to the closing “All the best,” but with less effort. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here is an example of what I mean by “Best” –

“Best,

[Insert Name]”

I like the closing now, but it has taken me a few years of exposure to warm up to it. I had a professor in undergrad who signed their name with “Best,” but this professor’s name also began with a B, so it was alliterative. However, a couple of years into college, I realized that more and more profs were ending their e-mails this way, and it drove me nuts after a while. I really thought they were all copying my first professor who did it, until I got to grad school. Then I realized that a lot people sign using “Best,” and I began to see the appeal of it in my own e-mails, despite being frustrated that I couldn’t come up with something more creative.

It was after I have re-entered the 9-5 working world, and have continued to sign my e-mails with “Best,” that I have realized not many people outside of the academe sign their e-mails this way. Common closings I see at work include:

No Transition Word:

[end of message text.]

[Insert Name Here]

Formal:

“Sincerely,

[Insert Name Here]”

 “Warmest Regards,

[Insert Name Here]”

Emphatic:

“Thank you!

[Insert Name Here]”

“Cheers!

[Insert Name Here]”

You get the idea. There are various e-mail closings, and people choose their closing for different reasons depending on the e-mail, the message, and the audience. Each closing is a specific rhetorical choice, but I feel like “Best,” more so than other closings, could be considered a rhetorical move that signifies busy but still professional, casual but still fairly traditional, and generally an academic.

I may be reading into this a little too much, but I have yet to get an independent e-mail or first response e-mail in my inbox at work from a non-academic that closes with “Best.” On the other hand, most of the e-mails I receive from other academics – although not all academics sign with the same closing of course -usually do seem to end with “Best.” When I use it, I do feel like I am marking myself as an academic, and that I specifically use it to enter academic conversations. What do you guys think?

Best,

Miss E