My Writing Process

This “My Writing Process” tag has been floating around the blogosphere the last few weeks. As I’ve been tagged by Betsy (new blogger find, and also fellow DC-er!) and I’ve been talking about my intentions to take musicalpoem back to “square one” with the intention to just write, I figured now’s probably the best time for me to be participating in this tag!

What are you working on right now?

I’ve got a few things drafted about travel as I’ve always got travel on the brain! The next stretch of 3-4 months mark a year since a very dark time in my life following a Big Dramatic Breakup that Was Like a Movie Script and I’ve been exploring ideas of how to express the progress I’ve made since then as well as how strangely grateful I am for that period of time, as my life wouldn’t be the same now had those events not occurred. However, all of that is pretty personal, not just for me but for my ex (obviously) as well as some of my close friends. I’m trying to walk the line between telling my story and telling a story that I share with others.

I’m also finalizing stuff for my third book, THREE WORDS SAY THE REST (you heard it first!!). It’s the last in an unplanned trilogy of three books (the first being ONE WORD SAYS IT ALL and the second TWO WORDS SAY MORE) about my time studying abroad in China. Once that’s out the door, I’m going to start working on a similar short story collection about my time backpacking in Southeast Asia.

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

As a writer and a blogger, a unique voice is all I’ve got. It’s all we’ve ALL got, really. I like to think that I write pretty much how I talk, which helps a lot with developing my “voice.” I also write only about what I love or am passionate or fueled up about, so chances are if I’ve covered it on my blog, I’m totally game to talk WAY more about it in person! (Protip for those who have no idea what to say to me on the chance that we meet, haha.)

Why do you write what you do?

I write what I’m interested in or what’s on my mind. I’ve always been writing something since I was a little kid, and with blogging I’ve really hit my stride as having an audience for my writing (no matter the size) really helps develops my voice. I’ll dabble in the personal posts (Happiness, Remember the Mountain) with the ones about food/beauty/travel (The Language of Food in China, Double Cleansing, Travel Tales). It’s a good mix of what makes up who I am in terms of my interests, so I think readers get a really good sense of who the girl behind the blog is.

How does your writing process work?

So… I don’t know if I really have one? I’ll usually get a burst of inspiration randomly and will either jot down a few lines or a potential title. If I don’t have time to write it right away, I’ll come back to it. But if I have the time immediately, I’ll sit and write and crank it out. I tend to rewrite as I go along; I’ll often write three sentences, delete two, and then continue with just one. By the time I’m done writing, I usually just need to copyedit and then I’m good to go!

Link Love, Vol. 63

When Alicia asked in the Jaybird Community on Facebook what our plans were for the weekend, my response was pretty straightforward: hang out with friends, clean/reorganize my apartment, and get some writing in. I’m pleased to report that I can check off all three as “complete!”

Although I didn’t spend as much time with friends as I had thought I would due to some poor planning on my part, the time I did spend with my besties was top notch as usual. I’m in DC for the next few weeks before my next work travel (if you recall, after I came back from Chile and Buenos Aires I was whisked away on a work trip almost immediately) so I’m looking forward to the regular swing of happy hours, brunches and going out with friends.

I’ve also finally managed to clean and reorganize my apartment, which was LONG overdue. Between working all the time in June and my recent set of back to back travels, my apartment had transformed into a mess. I scrubbed, I swept, I mopped, I rearranged, I washed, I [insert adjective here related to housecleaning] and I did it. Now my apartment is looking all nice and presentable again, rather than an unkempt place where things are thrown haphazardly around the place.

As for writing, well, I’m always writing something. :)

Life
Jenn writes on pulling it together, which resonated with me on SO many levels. (Although I don’t think I’m quite at the point of “perfect balance” that she’s at.)

Last week seemed like an epic week in Dealing with Stupidity and Negativity for me, so I appreciated Allie’s five tips on dealing with negative people.

Relationships
Terra writes about reclaiming herself.

Travel
I loved Amanda’s walking tour of downtown Oklahoma City.

Marielle’s post about living life in Hangzhou brought back some memories of the year I spent in Beijing.

One of my friends and I are mapping out some upcoming adventures and Peru’s pretty high on our list. Amy’s pictures of Machu Picchu only fuel my desire to go there!

Kate shares some money saving travel tips for cheap eats.

Travel Tales: Buenos Aires

Before Buenos Aires, I was in Chile. Click here for my Chilean adventure recap!

I didn’t plan to go to Buenos Aires.

No, I planned to go to Mendoza, a town that was a 6-7 hour bus ride away from Santiago. The bus was supposed to take us up the Andes and through the border crossing to Argentina. Mendoza was the first big city over the border and famous for its wine. L and I were looking forward to a few days of kicking back, visiting wineries, and indulging in one of Argentina’s more famous exports.

Instead, when we got to the bus station on the morning of our departure, we were informed that the border was closed.

“CLOSED?!” I cried.

“Avalanche.”

Oh. Right. I kept forgetting it was winter.

The border could be closed for up to five days, we were told. Sometimes, buses along the border would get stuck during the journey and people would have to camp out at designated shelters along the route. There was nothing to do in those shelters but to wait it out and hope that the snow would clear sooner rather than later.

Well, I didn’t have an extra five days to spare and the last thing I wanted was to be stuck in a shelter in the Andes Mountains and miss my flight home. So, my friend L and I had to form a backup plan. We could have stayed in Santiago, but we both had our hearts set on Argentina — me in particular, seeing as I had already paid the $160USD reciprocity fee Argentina charges for Americans and I was going to be damned if I didn’t get to cross that border and make use of my fee.

After a few whirlwind searches in a nearby internet cafe, L and I bought tickets for a flight to Buenos Aires later that day.

Just like that, I was going to Buenos Aires.

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I ABSOLUTELY LOVE BUENOS AIRES. There are no words. I had the time of my life, met some AMAZING people, and was fortunate enough to become friends with another American girl so that we could ring in the Fourth of July together. The hostel we stayed at even put on a little Fourth of July party and offered hot dogs. We knew that they would be nothing like the hot dogs back home, but man, that stuff was weird. Possibly the oddest hot dog I’ve ever had. The potato salad and sauerkraut it was served with, however, were most excellent.

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Actually, L and I were fortunate to be put in a shared hostel room with these two other cool girls that we had the best time with and that I already miss <3

I attended an AWESOME show, Fuerza Bruta. I’ve never seen anything like it before and am so glad i got to see it and would pay to see it again in a heartbeat. So damn cool. I shopped at little stores along the busy main streets of Buenos Aires. I ate some pretty damn good empanadas and was served a plate of meat THE SIZE OF MY HEAD, which, while delicious, was also an overwhelming undertaking. I went through the gringa ritual of being ripped off by a cab driver with some counterfeit pesos. (Damn those crafty bastards and my non-existent Spanish language skills.) I was out dancing till dawn with my girlfriends and many a cute boy, which, if you know anything about me at all, pleased me to no end and is probably why I love Buenos Aires so much. I also only took one picture the entirety of my time in the Argentine capital, because I’m bad at the whole touristy thing but also the whole not-wanting-to-be-an-optimal-target-for-pickpockets thing.

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Till next time, Buenos Aires and Argentina. I’m definitely coming back. For a city I never planned to be in, I had the time of my life.

Travel Tales: Chile

Back in November (or was it December?) my childhood friend L contacted me out of the blue. She was one of my best friends in high school, back when I lived in Australia. Since I moved back to the States, we kept in touch sporadically over Facebook.

“I’m in South America,” she said. “I’ll be here till July. Come visit me?”

As if I needed anymore convincing than that.

(Both my friends and L’s friends were in semi-disbelief at our story, including new friends we made during our adventure. “But you guys hadn’t seen each other properly in eight years? And only kept in touch on Facebook? And just decided to go traveling together? WEREN’T YOU GUYS WORRIED?” My advice if you’re ever in a similar situation as to the one I was in: SAY YES. Never turn down a travel opportunity and the possibility to reconnect with an old, good friend.)

I calculated my vacation days, estimated the cost of a trip to Chile, used some credit card points for my airfare and BOOM, I was going to Chile.

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I landed in Santiago at 11 p.m. on a Friday. When I met L at the hostel, I had already secured the business cards of a Chilean businessman (my flight seatmate, incredibly kind fellow) and my taxi driver (a good looking guy who spoke English fluently). Can I say GET IT GIRL?

My first day in Santiago was the World Cup came between Chile and Brazil, so L and I went to the Plaza de Armas to watch it. To say the atmosphere was intense would be the biggest understatement, but oh my God guys, THE ATMOSPHERE WAS INTENSE. I’d never seen anything like it. (I later was in Buenos Aires for the Argentina game and with a bunch of Brazilians for another Brazil game and both times I was very overwhelmed.) Here I thought that the US was getting more and more into World Cup soccer, and then I went to Chile. Don’t get me wrong, the US *is* getting more into World Cup soccer (we are one nation under Tim Howard, after all) but we have A LONG WAY TO GO before we even come close to the South American fanbase.

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Santiago’s beautiful. I love how that from pretty much wherever you are in the city, you can see the snow-capped Andes on one side. I love how there’s seafood plentily available and an abundance of really, really good sushi restaurants. I mean, ALL the food I had was really good! I love how kind the people are, despite the fact that English is not commonly spoken. And I love how much there was to see in the city, from the museums to the markets to the restaurants.

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In addition to Santiago, I also visited Valparaiso and Vina del Mar. I adored Valparaiso to pieces; I love how colorful the city was, particularly as the day I was there the weather was particularly bleak looking. (That’s what I get for visiting Chile in the winter, I suppose.) The street art was also breathtaking. I mean, where else can I find a city with rainbow steps? Or such beautiful graffiti?

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Vina del Mar was also wonderful, but I suspect I’d have gotten a very different feel of the town had I visited in the spring or summer, as it’s a beach town. Still, beaches are actually my favorite in the winter. Beaches in the summer are too hot, too crowded, too sunny. In the winter, I can admire a beach for its untainted beauty, the way the waves crash along the shore as the crisp air takes my breath away.

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I also visited the town of Quillota, where L’s family is from. Can you believe I didn’t take a single picture in Quillota? It just felt odd to me, to visit my friend’s family hometown and family members and be That Girl and whip out her camera to take a bunch of touristy photos. (That’s the reason why I didn’t vlog this trip, either. That, and I didn’t want to be singled out as an optimal target for pickpockets, particularly in the busier cities.) Because back in 2010 I went to the Shanghai world Expo and visited the Chilean pavilion. Part of the exhibit (and, incidentally, the only part I remember) was an “inside look” for a typical Chilean house. When I walked into L’s family’s home, I was hit with a flood of visual memories from that pavilion and I have to say, they got it pretty spot on.

Somewhere between our Chilean adventures, L and I carved out the time to hop over the border and spend a few days in Buenos Aires. More on that next!

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Link Love, Vol. 62

It seems like I’ve only just gotten back from Chile and Argentina and already, I’m on the move again. Tonight, I depart for a week-long trip for work. While I’m not going far (only a state away), it’s still a week away from home and on the road.

While my time in DC between trips has been brief, I have enjoyed being back. I could do without the swelteringly hot temperatures, but I can’t have everything, can I? (Perspective: it was winter in Santiago, with low temperatures hovering slightly above freezing. My first day back in DC, it was near 100F with the heat index!) I hit up Truckeroo on Friday with some friends, always a favorite summer event. I indulged in a bottomless brunch with some coworkers. If that wasn’t a “welcome back!” to DC, I don’t know what was; we take brunch VERY seriously here! I also attended a friend’s goodbye party. While a goodbye party is always a bittersweet event, it was good to catch up with a lot of people I haven’t seen in ages.

Food
Jenn writes about her interest and new experiences in growing her own food.

Ever since I’ve returned from Chile and Argentina, I’ve got manjar and dulce de leche on the brain. Amy’s dulce de leche ice cream looks AMAZING.

Life
Carley reminds us to be kind and gentle.

Cait writes about her plan to embrace minimalism.

As someone who’s also been rockin’ and feelin’ self-love lately, I appreciated Erika’s post about loving yourself as you are.

NZ Muse shares 5 things she learned when she was 25.

Travel
Erika’s tour of Chicago by day and night made me realize that I’m long overdue for a trip to the city in which I used to live.

I love the idea of Ashley’s #30DaysofCityLove challenge! I’m definitely going to participate once I’m in my city for 30 days straight.

NZ Muse defends touristy places.

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