Why do you write? Itâ€™s a simple question, and may seem a bit rhetorical, but I want you to answer it. Knowing your answer may make all the difference when youâ€™re ready to give up. Take a moment and think it through. Be honest. Does your reason look anything like any of these?
Words are like puzzle pieces just waiting for you to arrange them into something beautiful that only you can uniquely do.
Writing unscrambles the thoughts in your head by allowing you to capture and then process them.
You want to see your name in print, whether itâ€™s a front-page byline or the cover of a best-selling novel.
Much like photographs of special times, writing records the memories you never want to forget.
Ever the encourager, you use words to soothe the distressed, comfort the grieving, and uplift the discouraged among your loved ones and friends.
The act of creating a story gives you pleasure, much like the joy you experienced playing dolls or playing make-believe as a child.
Those of us who call ourselves writers have a wonderful gift. Yes, writing can be difficultâ€”sometimes itâ€™s one of the hardest things we can imagine doingâ€”but once the rough patches are over and we have a draft in hand, the rewards are great. We need to remember what drives us to write, plus the positive experiences that will come.
Perhaps you’re a journalist, and no matter how many articles you write, seeing the final draft in published form always gives you a sense of satisfactionâ€”especially if it was a difficult assignment. After carrying the article along from the initial interviews to the final draft, the process is complete when the story is finally laid out in print. Similarly, while writing and producing a major Seattle newscast, I could envision the final product as I wrote, choosing the best soundbites and writing to video. Seeing the finished product on their air (when I had time to turn away from the computer to watch the TV for a minute) with all the pieces in place, was such a treat.
In addition to the satisfaction, I want my words to count for something more than entertainment. When I think of my favorite novelsâ€”Les Miserables, Great Expectations, The Great Gatsby, Jane Eyre, to name just a fewâ€”theyâ€™re great stories, but they also give the reader plenty to think about. When we watch Jean Valjean wrestle with his identity as an escaped convict as he heroically risks his freedom and well-being to protect Cosette, we ask ourselves questions about our own morality and values. Watching Jay, Jake, Daisy, and the rest of the Gatsby party loll around Jazz Age New York, we observe their selfishness and the toll it takes on those around them. The list could go on and on, including fiction and nonfiction, poetry and prose.
Have you ever been in a group where everyone wanted something different? Well, one of our favorite lunching places in Walla Walla solves that problem. With variety on the menu and fresh ingredients at hand, the Green Spoon offers something for everyone.
Advertised as serving food that is fresh, healthy and delicious, we found the Green Spoon to be just that! The vegetables looked as though they had just been picked, crisp and ripe, from the garden and the sandwiches are hearty and well stuffed. The menu offers many styles of food from Greek, Thai and Mexican, all the way to a classic BLT or mac n’ cheese.
Location and Atmosphere
On Main street in downtown Walla Walla, the Green Spoon is located near several tasting rooms and shops, making it a convenient place to stop for a fresh lunch or hearty dinner after a long day of tasting and shopping. The atmosphere is light and modern, with art from local artists displayed on the walls.
Writeability and Purchased Presence
During non-peak hours, the Green Spoon is a great place to grab a bite and a drink and linger for a while with your notebook. The staff is veryÂ accommodatingÂ and often happy to answer questions about the menu, or even non-menu related questions. However, out of courtesy, keep an eye on the traffic flow and make sure you’re not taking up a table too long during rush hours unless you’ve ordered a full meal.
Lunch prices can range from $9-12 and dinner entrees can get up to $22, which is reasonable for the quality of ingredients and portion size.
Free parking is on Main St. and side streets.
To get your writing juices flowing, try this writing exercise. Once you’ve placed your order, as your server two quick questions. #1 What’s the most popular item on the menu, and #2 What is an item not frequently ordered. With this in mind, imagine your character sitting in the Green Spoon, would they order the most popular item, or something else? Jot down notes for a scene in which your character is sitting with someone who makes an unusual request from the menu, how does your character react?
The Green Spoon Walla Walla
13 E Main St
Walla Walla, WA Website
This meal was complimentary, courtesy of Tourism Walla Walla.
Who hasnâ€™t been enchanted by a story about a secret garden or a hidden retreat? Today your character sees a hidden doorâ€“and itâ€™s ajar! What does it look like? Does its appearance keep him away or repel him? Write a scene beginning at the moment when he finds the door.
Describe the smell of morning in and around your home.
List five words you like because of how they sound. Now write a poem or paragraph using those words, paying attention to the overall music of the piece.
Itâ€™s getting cold out there! Whether itâ€™s itchy but stylish, the softest cashmere, or a heavy wool wool that blocks out the fiercest wind, what does your favorite sweater or coat say about you? Silly question, you may say, but think about it seriously. Now, if youâ€™re a fiction writer, think about your charactersâ€™ clothes. Donâ€™t waste a word describing something that doesnâ€™t somehow clue your reader into your charactersâ€™ personalities or your plot.
Your character is at a Parisian bar. Alone. Is he waiting for someone? Has the rest of the party left? Whatâ€™s going through his mind as he sips his beverage of choice? (And as we discussed yesterday, make the details count, whether he orders a whiskey on the rocks, a dirty martini, or a simple glass of ice water.)
Choose a word. It doesnâ€™t matter whether itâ€™s a noun, verb, or adjective, as long as it relates to a story youâ€™re working on. Find a language dictionary online and translate your word to the language of your choice. Without thinking of the meaning of the translated word, spend 10 minutes freewriting about what associations its sound brings to mind. Does this give you any new ideas for your story?
We know Fridays can be a drag. They can start out great because you wake up and realize, “It’s almost the weekend!” But then the lulls strike. The first time you look at the clock, it’s only 10 A.M. You brace yourself and remember, keep busy and the day will fly by, right? Then 2 P.M. rolls around, still the day isn’t over. Ugh!
Well, we’d like to introduce our Friday Forum. A pleasant little something to break up a dragging day. Not unlike the office, we’ll be gathering here around the metaphorical water cooler catching up on what writers are talking about. New book releases, writing techniques, maybe even a little celebrity gossip. Who knows!? It’ll be up to you. Because what it really comes down to is we’d like to hear from you!
Here’s how it works, every Friday we’ll post a question, quote or chatter that we’ve been hearing about and you respond letting us know what you think! Easy peasy. So check back tomorrow and join the conversation!
It’s the middle of a new week. And I barely have any writing to show for it.
Time is whirling a little out of control right now. Do you know what I mean? Just a couple of weeks ago I felt like a writing superwoman. I was at the top of my game. I was writing, writing, writing, and produced some things I felt pretty darn good about.
Today you should see my office (it’s a mess). And my list of personal to-do’s (it’s backlogged). My blogging schedule is all out of whack. Deadlines are the only things keeping things going.
However, lest you think I’m complaining, I should say that life is good. Outside of the digital world and my office, things couldn’t be better. I’m blessed beyond measure. And enjoying and maintaining that other world–the one that’s more important, in all reality, than the one that resides on a desk chair and in front of a computer screen–has led to my current situation. I wouldn’t change a thing.
As the week goes on I’ll work at regaining a little ground here in this office of mine. I’ll keep writing, keep blogging, keep trying to get organized. Because that’s where a core part of my life and identity reside. But in the meantime, it’s good to know that I can find balance, that I can identify my priorities and live life accordingly. Now if only I could master my time management, find a way to be too places at once, and always be on top of everything…
What are your tactics for maintaining balance in your own writing or creative life?
(By the way, that photo up there shows tea and a cookie, a Nooks & Cranberries-style way to slow down and reflect. But it gets better than that–the cookie is a delicious Scandinavian almond bar, from recipe I remember from my childhood. I’ll be sharing it over at Outside Oslo soon, so be sure to visit in the coming days!)
There’s nothing like a little French inspiration to get us in the mood to write. We may not be able to time travel to Hemingway and Fitzgerald’s 1920s Paris, but Brasserie Four in Walla Walla comes close. So it seems like the perfect way to start our Walla Walla-based Destination Inspiration series.
From an artfully composed salade niÃ§oise to macarons with just the right balance between chewy and light, this French bistro in Downtown Walla Walla is one of our favorite spots in Washington wine country. Owner Hannah MacDonald has come up with a menu that celebrates the best of classic French fare, while managing to keep it fresh, fun, and never too heavy.
Location and Atmosphere
Located on Main Street in Downtown Walla Walla, this is the perfect place to people watch, especially if you can get a seat on the patio or by a window. We lingered a while after our meal to enjoy our macarons and just take in the scenery and its people. We noticed business taking place one table over and a man seated behind us raved about the food and said he always stopped by when he was in town. Â The atmosphere and cuisine are such that people keep coming back and you can count us among them!
Writeabilityand Purchased Presence
Come with a notebook and a pen–and ideally a writing partner. This is a great place to brainstorm over a couple of bubbly wines. Keep the mood fun, and not too serious, and be mindful of the crowd when deciding how long to linger.
Expect to pay around $8 for a starter, or $10-20 for an entree. While pretty typical for a restaurant of this caliber, consider your writer’s budget before deciding in a moment of epicurean bliss that you’re going to come here every day for lunch.
Street parking is often available along Main Street. We’ve never had trouble finding a good spot more than a block or two away from our destination.
One of the few restaurants around with a designated kids’ play area, this is the perfect place for a writing meeting when you have to bring the kids along. They also offer a kids’ size to virtually anything on the menu, and offer high chairs, which can be hard to come by among Walla Walla’s fine restaurants.
4 East Main Street
Walla Walla, Washington Website
After a long, international flight, your jet lagged character arrives in her hotel room. Too exhausted to even take off her shoes, she slouches into a chair and stares out the window. Whatâ€™s going through her mind as she looks at the sights outside?
Itâ€™s dinnertime in this Parisian apartment building. Focusing on the smells wafting out of the windows, create a series of vignettes about whatâ€™s taking place in several homes.
Your character takes one last trip to the beach before the sun sets on the final day of vacation. Do the sounds of the waves make her lonely, pensive, happy, relaxed, or anxious? Why?
The warm water circling your ankles, sand grinding between your toes, fish swimming byâ€“think back to a trip to the beach and recapture that day in as much sensory detail as possible.
Whatâ€™s the most adventurous thing youâ€™ve ever eaten? Describe the taste and the whole experience in such a way that readers will feel like theyâ€™re eating it at that moment, too.
Cats roam the ruins of ancient Ephesus, millions of tourists tread the ancient roads of Pompeii. Think about the contrast of the ancient past and the present and write down five possible story ideas that come to mind. Donâ€™t worry about developing them right now, just write down everything that comes to mind, then file them away for a future date when youâ€™re feeling stuck.
Bringing our Walla Walla book & wine pairing series to a close, we’ll have a chat with Kirsten Telander, a freelance writer in Walla Walla and co-author of â€œWine Tasterâ€™s Survival Guide.â€ I first met Kirsten as she was representing Tero Estates and Flying Trout wines in their tasting room in downtown Walla Walla. Little did I know that she was the perfect person to ask about pairing wine with books. With her background in writing and her history in the wine industry, she pointed out some pairings that I never would have thought of! She also shares with us a bit about how she got her start as a writer and how she came to embrace her secret affection for chick lit.
What would you consider to be signature wines for Tero and Flying Trout?Â
Flying Trout Malbecs have a cult-like following.Â Her 100% vineyard designate Malbecs are what she’s best known for.Â Ashley Trout was the firstWashingtonwinemaker to dedicate her brand to Malbec and Malbec blends. She definitely pushed the envelope with the blends. For example, some would say to use only 5% Malbec or go 100%, but she’ll put together blends with 30% for example and she makes it work. But, if you’re asking for 1 wine as signature? Mary’s Block Malbec – 100% off the estate vineyard (Windrow)
The signature wine for Tero is the Windrow. It is named after the estate vineyard (Windrow is the oldest commercially planted vineyard along with the adjacent Seven Hills Vineyard in the Walla WallaValley). Winemaker Doug Roskelley is the only winemaker that I know of in WA (if not the U.S.) doing a true field blend, which is what Windrow is. Field blends are an age-old tradition in Europe. Cabernet, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec are harvested at the same time in proportion to their planting in the estate vineyard and co-fermented. The result is an expression of the vineyard, not the varietals, for that year.Â The 2008 was ranked #44, 92 points in the 100 best bottles in Washington by Seattle Metropolitan Magazine. The 2009 will be released at the end of September.
What are some of your personal favorites?
I’m a Cabernet Sauvignon gal. Give me a good Cab and I’m happy. That being said, I think that the Tero Herb’s Block Merlot is one of the best Merlot’s I’ve had. Washington Merlots in general are bigger with more structure (drinking in the direction of Cabs with killer aromatics) than any other wine region I’ve found. Flying Trout Torrontes is one of the most kick-ass whites I’ve had. It’s different. Clean, light, and hugely aromatic – she actually travels to Mendoza, Argentina every year just to make this wine. If she stopped people would protest, including me.
If you could sit down right now with one of your personal favorites and something to read, what would it be?
I’d drink the Torrontes with Vanity Fair magazine or one of my favorite chick lit authors, not total fluff, but a bit of a beach read. Holly Peterson’s “The Manny” comes to mind, or Pam Houston’s “Cowboys Are My Weakness”. Anything, and I mean anything, but “Fifty Shades of Gray”. I threw it out, even while heavily drinking.
A good cab by the fire (Tero Estates 2008 Hill Block) would call for a re-read of Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast,” or something quirky and original like “No One Belongs Here More Than You” by Miranda July. Or Michael Byers’ “The Cost of Good Intentions.”
In the realm of reading, what are some of your favorite authors or books?
I’m a sucker for good memoirs. “Just Kids” by Patty Smith, “Eat, Pray, Love” (yes, I loved it despite certain critics), and I just finished a wonderful memoir that is little known – “Chance of Sun: An Oregon Memoir” by Kim Cooper Findling. I got hooked on memoir years ago with Mary Karr’s “The Liar’s Club” – I love the combo of tragic and comic and she pulls this off brilliantly. Raymond Carver is a genius in my mind. I really admire the work of Lorrie Moore (just finished “A Gate at the Stairs”), Amy Hempel, and Ron Carlson (love “Hotel Eden”).
Can you tell us a bit about your writing life?
After graduate school (where I studied creative writing) I was paralyzed. Colleagues were either writing inaccessible (in my mind) poetry or literary fiction, and I struggled to find my voice. I got caught up in journalistic stuff just to write (and make a few bucks and I mean a few) but I’m not a journalist and knew that wasn’t my future. A few years ago, I carved out a little time and started to write a few essays about my experience managing a tasting room – behind the scenes stuff that isn’t so glamorous. But I realized I could never publish them because nobody in the wine biz here would ever talk to me again. That’s when the idea of a novel sounded good. And I had an epiphany: I don’t want to write literary fiction. I admire it, but it’s not what I want. I want to be somewhere in between chick lit and something with some intelligence and heart. I joke that I came out of the closet as a writer of chick lit! It was so liberating! So in addition to freelance writing about wine, food, and lifestyle, I have started a novel based in the wine business. Is it based in Walla Walla? Yes. Does it have a few people that appear that are based on winemakers here? Yes. But there’s enough fiction to free me up and have fun with it. I am re-building my website (www.kirstentelander.com) which will include sample chapters 🙂
Any advice for our wine-drinking, book-loving writers?
Wine drinking is such a sensory experience, and I am drawn to books that draw on the sensory. I would think book-loving writers that drink wine would agree. “Joy for Beginners” and “The School of Essential Ingredients” by Erica Bauermeister are good examples of someone who uses her craft of writing and love of sensory and sense of character to create great novels; Frances Mayes has made a career out of her non-fiction. Speaking of characters, wine tasting is the perfect excuse to create characters! People really open up in tasting rooms often revealing their very interesting stories (or not and even those make for good material). Take your writer’s notebook with you and make note of all the sensory details and the people you meet along the way.
About Nooks & Cranberries
[quote]There are many excuses not to write, but we're here to ensure that a lack of creativity isn't one of them.[/quote]
Nooks & Cranberries was created by two friends, Sarah Madson and Daytona Strong, who are freelance writers based in Seattle.