Elizabeth Gilbert

I Finally Get Twitter

twitterTwitter seems like a requirement for anyone with a business or a message. Everyone has it but I didn’t know a single person who actually liked it. When I asked friends if they were on twitter their responses sounded more like “Yeah I floss.”

Setting up my account for Writers Work (yes, please follow my new twitter handle), I finally saw why tweeting is fun. The key is you can’t just tweet about your own material and then never read the wall. Here’s why you should spend some time on twitter:

  • Unlike facebook, you don’t have to scroll through a thousand ads.
  • You can connect with big names. For instance, I was reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book and I wrote a message about it, using her handle, and she wrote back to me in seconds! You can’t do that with any other social media platform.
  • You can get really focused news. For instance, with my Heso twitter handle I follow a variety of people, but with my Writers Work account, I only follow writers. Now when I go on my twitter account for WW, I get to see hundreds of quotes about writing, and encouraging articles.
  • It’s really fast. Sometimes I don’t post things to my blog because it’s just a short thought, however that thought is perfect for twitter. I can post it, and go back to my writing without working for an hour to develop that thought into a fleshed out blog post.
  • It’s really easy to develop a following. I picked up 100 followers in the last week just because I’ve been posting more and following more people.

For a long time I didn’t see the point of twitter. All the hashtags and @ symbols were confusing and unpleasant to read. I didn’t spend any time reading other people posts. Nothing would happen when I posted a link to my blog. Like everything, the more you put into it the more you get out of it. You need to click the favorite button on tweets you like. You need to retweet the posts you like. Soon, people will start doing that for you!

Who are some people you would recommend following on twitter?

Women are not that bad

I was browsing the aisles of a small book store when I overheard two young women talking.

“I’m trying to remember the title of that memoir that’s supposed to be like the male version of Eat Pray Love,” one said.

“Oh, I bet the male version would be much better!” the other said.

“I know! I can’t stand women authors. They’re so self-indulgent.”

Just recounting this story makes me shake my fist and say out loud “Why I oughta!” And let me remind you that these were women. I picked up a large book to hide behind and followed them around the store. I learned that they were English majors at NYU. COME ON! Was their dream to one day put their heart and soul into a novel just to have two catty girls dismiss it  because the author wears a bra? Why were they hating on women authors? It was like their professor told them that women can’t write and so they had to repeat the sentiment to sound smart. I would read Barbara Kingsolver over William Faulkner any day.

And so, in the spirit of defending my gender, I am posting a link to one of my favorite TED talks and it happens to be by a woman – Elizabeth Gilbert. I love her vulnerability and insight when she talks about the effect of fear on creative people.

Spain Travel Narrative

I’m leaving for Spain today! I’ve always wanted to go, so now I’m doin’ it. For a whole month! First I’ll be taking a two week Spanish course in Salamanca at Don Quijote language school. I’ll be living with a host family, which I’ve never done before, and honestly that scares me. Hopefully we’ll get along. Afterward my boyfriend, Mike, will be meeting me in Madrid. We’ll take the train to San Sebastian, then Barcelona, Granada, and Cordoba. Muy Bien.

from About Spain Travel blog

OK, here’s where the challenge comes in. Traveling is one of the things that supports my HeSo. And I’m supposed to be finding ways to get paid to do what I love. The obvious answer is travel narrative. So how do I become the next Bill Bryson, or Elizabeth Gilbert? The truth is I’ve been to some pretty crazy places, and experienced amazing wonders. I took a plane ride around Mt. Everest, I swam in a bio-luminescent bay in Vieques where the water glows neon green when you touch it, I had Shabbot dinner with an 11 person family in Vienna who I met only an hour before. I’ve been to Nicaragua 10 times. My family bribed a guard to get into Catherine the Great’s Palace in Russia. So how the heck do I get paid to tell these stories?

A picture I took at 30,000 ft in the air

Well let’s be realistic. Publishers are not going to be knocking down my door to give me a book deal when I come back from Spain. So what are the baby steps?

I visited a great site called The Travel Writer’s Life. In an article titled, Go Magazine Editor Orion Ray-Jones on the Kinds of Travel Articles that Glue and Editor to the Page, Christina Merchant interviews the editor, Orion Ray-Jones. Here’s what he says about how to get published:

Be original. Bring me topics that will surprise and intrigue me, and develop innovative ways to present them, both in terms of how you report the story and how you structure the language. That first-person travelogue of syrupy, adjective-laden writing about a Tuscan wine tour is too painful to bear. I know there’s wine in Italy, and unless you’re famous, I’m not interested in your diary about tasting it. Surprise me! There are so many bad clichés in travel; avoid them.

An article by Bonnie Caton said that the best way to get published is to write something unique about a small town. In other words, editors are overwhelmed with stories about wine tasting in Tuscany, finding love in Paris, and art in Barcelona, but they don’t get many interesting stories about the Socrates Sculpture garden in Astoria. That’s good to know, but it’s not going to help me right before my trip to Spain.

That got me thinking. Can I write a local story about traveling? I started looking up the American sister cities for the cities I’m visiting in Spain. It turns out Madrid and NYC are sister cities. And so my goal is to write and sell a story about similarities and differences between NYC and Madrid.

Roy Stevenson, gives these steps in his article, How Long Does it Take to Sell your First Travel Story:

1. Collect every bit of information you get, and take a ridiculous amount of photos. You might think you’ll remember everything, but you won’t. Editors love when you supply your own pictures. Make sure you take many different angles. You might take only close ups, but the editor might want the look of wide open vistas.

2. Create a long list of all the travel journals, magazines and websites that you would like to sell to, and send the query letter to all of them. Yes, all of them.

3. Be fearless. The only way to get published is to keep putting yourself out there. No one is going to read stories off of your laptop. Or at least they’re not going to pay you to do so.

So this is going to be my first attempt at making some HeSo money. Wish me luck!