Anglo Adventure

Travel with a sense of humor


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Paris Travel Photo Essay, Film Noir Edition

Paris is pretty.

Sure, it smells of urine in some spots and there are piles of dog merde everywhere, but I barely even noticed because there is so much pretty to take in. It is so gorgeous, I broke my rule about living through the lens and filled up my camera’s CF card the third day in.

This is the first of my Paris photo essays, the Film Noir edition, otherwise known as the day I tried to be artsy by snapping photos of statues and strangers in monochrome.

Paris travel photos

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Adventures in Freelance Writing

 

Freelance Travel Writing Tips

This makes it worth it. Kind of.

So…we meet again, home office.

I’ve come back to freelance writing and travel writing after finishing up my long-term contract in a mega corporation. I know a lot of very talented writers and bloggers who long to do the same thing. I don’t know if it’s the right choice for you, but I think it’s right for me. For now. 

This blog could document my downward spiral from very gainfully employed writer to That Peddler in the Parking Lot Who Writes The Best Cardboard Signs. Here are some things I’ve learned along the way.

Freelance writing tips:

Very little time will be spent writing. Most of it will be spent checking email and refreshing it again and again to see if those query letters and job applications you sent out got a response. Nope. Just another email newsletter advertising Socktober Fest. All those socks. All on sale…

You need to know… math. Oh yeah, we writers think we’re all cute and funny and stuff when we can’t calculate tips or do taxes because we’re “word nerds.” But as a freelancer, you need to know some basic business calculations figure out if you’re making more or less than you would if you collected cans for a living. This is an essential skill.

That’s why writers make such miserable salaries. The Man thinks we can’t do math.

Your new exercise = pacing. The last time I worked as a freelancer I lost about 10 pounds in a matter of weeks. Friends asked why I looked so svelte. It wasn’t a change in my dietary habits—certainly, I inhaled a few less donuts. But my magical weight loss was due to my pacing around the room whenever I faced a looming deadline.

You will need to improve your social skills. I have the social graces of a T-Rex. I am clumsy, loud, and thanks to Invisilign, might spit when I talk.

Days go by where I don’t see humans. So when I meet a prospective client for lunch, I have to remind myself that she’s not my therapist and now is probably not an appropriate time to talk about last night’s dream where I wore a purple tri-cornered hat onto the bus and everyone laughed at me.

Your 9-5 friends will scare the crap out of you. Things not to say to a freelance writer:

-You may never work for “real” again. 

-You’re doing what? IN THIS ECONOMY?!

-Why couldn’t you make it as a real writer?

Just avoid phrases that can be punctuated with an interabang.

Did you ever quit a job to follow your passion? Do you freelance? Ring in with tips below. 


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So You’re an English Major

This is a picture of a painting of a painting.

What life looks like after graduation. (I don’t know who painted this.)

So you’re an English major. Welcome. It has been almost ten years since I graduated college and I prepared some advice, as well as responses to common questions. No other major has been so scrutinized, so deemed USELESS by the gainfully employed. Useless. What an awful word for a fantastic study.

If you’re reading this, it’s probably too late to change it. But you wouldn’t want to.

My “useless” degree in English taught me to examine the fabric of life. Everything is present in books. Everything. A writer observes and records. A writer makes his characters suffer so we know what it will be like when we get there.

I learned about love, death, desire, war, sex, passion, food, junk, poverty, disease, diplomacy, philosophy, social issues, activism, etc. I still don’t get commas though.

In short, an English degree is the universal degree. You just need to learn how to market it, how to make it work for you.

Let’s start with advice from one of my favorite writers: Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Only assholes do that.~ Murakami. Continue reading


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What Journalism Taught Me About Writing & Humanity

indie-music-coeur-de-pirate-

What goes on backstage. Coeur de Pirate’s sound test at Summer fest 2011.

Anyone lived in a pretty how town…~ E.E. Cummings

As a teenager, I wasn’t much for journalism. I defined myself as a creative writer, too artistic and impatient for plain old facts. I didn’t like sports and never wanted to write the expose on the cafeteria pizza. I wrote stream-of-conscious poetry for guys who didn’t like poetry and didn’t like me.

I was an idiot.

Journalism is storytelling. At the Quebec City Chronicle-Telegraph (the oldest newspaper in North America), I focused mostly on the small stuff: charity drives, local teams, high school graduations, restaurant openings – the minutia of the small English-speaking community.

As small papers dry up or battle for readership online, we’re losing human-interest stories. We may never read Shelly Brown’s obituary,  Shelly who spent thirty years working the counter at the deli; who gave the community three great children, who dedicated her life to rescuing dogs.

Why care about Shelly, the smiling deli worker? We have this to read:

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Syria.
10 Things Amanda Knox Has in Common with a Unicorn.
15 Pugs Who Look Like Dictators. 

Just like there’s a time and place for the above, (lunch breaks), there’s a time and place for newspapers: Sunday afternoons. I can’t remember the last time I sat with a newspaper article, chewed the story over, let it linger. I love blogs, but getting the story out is stressed more than getting the story out right.

Continue reading


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A Case for the Commercial Writer

copywriting tips, writing jobs

Until Elwood’s modelling career takes off, this is all I have.

I took a hiatus from life to work a contract gig as a copywriter for a major corporation. With the exception of technical writing (or being a hugely famous author), copywriting is the most lucrative day job in the writing world. Travel writing appears to be the least lucrative so unless I want to be one of those hostel people (with dog? and husband? heck no), this is what I have to do.

There’s also video game writing, which I hear pays handsomely. I have no idea what that entails though.

If only I played Zelda more

I should stroll the bohemian stroll. I should be in Uruguay or something. I will be traveling again, once I figure out how to make travel journalism a fulltime job. That’s my goal this year and I am happy you’re aboard for the ride.

Thankfully, my current job is very creative and there’s free coffee. And because of all the stress and caffeine, I have an eye twitch. Maybe after my eye explodes, I’ll have to wear a patch and then I’ll become a super villainess — a corporate crime fighter in a pencil skirt. Continue reading


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The Art of Rejection

I am writing this for anyone who considers themselves an artist and has the glamourous job of creating something, submitting it and waiting for the inevitable words:

Sorry not for us

___ (*NOT YOU*) won the You are a Writing God Fellowship.

….not quite right for our pompous-ass publication.

No matter what it says, you hear the same thing. “You: no good. Stop now.”

Reflections of/the way rejection used to be 

writing-writing-tips-how-to-handle-rejection

A rejection letter is only a stop sign if you let it be.

The first rejection slip I ever received came before I ever submitted anything, in the form of cruel words from others. Girls iced me out of the cool cliques. Boys I liked who didn’t like me and made it a point to announce it. Teachers who ignored me. Thankfully, my childhood happened well before the internet because I am quite if cyber bullying existed, it would have pushed me into crazy territory.

Getting bullied isn’t a rite of passage. It’s crowdsourced abuse.

For a long time, I feared rejection so much, all of my writing resided in my notebook or my mind. I lived inside my own head, scared to make a squeak. No standing and delivering for me; I curled up and withdrew. Continue reading


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Job Woes & the Search for my Mr. Miyagi

travel blog expat quebec expat blog

What Elwood does when I look for jobs

I am two parts commercial writer, one part travel writer and one part creative writer. I have six years experience, including two managing other writers. I moved to Canada and back. Now it’s like I am on the other end of an electric fence and I can’t get back into the job market.

Maybe they could sense that I was in Quebec, like a baby bird rejected from its mother because a human touched it.

I have been looking for work since April, when I moved back here. I have had countless job interviews. I am not desperate, not complaining, but I am frustrated. I need work and although I currently freelance write for multiple travel publications, there are long stretches of time spent in PJs writing a humorous inner monologues from vampires and bizarre stories about old folks’ homes.

I need to make money. Continue reading