Nixola Research

Hey all!

I bet you’re wondering…I wonder if Sarah is ever gonna finish that book she talked about writing.  Have no fear!  Life has been crazy and I’ve been thrown a few curve balls but I’m still here and I will bring Nixola’s story to life if it kills me!  Figuratively speaking of course. *wink*

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, let me tell you a little bit about my current WIP (Work In Progress).  Back in May, I graduated with a Masters in History.  In order to graduate I had to write a thesis.  I was allowed to pick from a vast choice of subjects but I felt drawn to journalism.  Specifically, I wanted to write about female journalists.  Next, I needed to narrow down a time period.  I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the Gilded Age and the Industrial Era, so naturally, I wanted to see what happened next in the story of America.  What comes next is called the Progressive Era.  Note: Don’t think too much of the word Progressive.  It doesn’t mean today what it meant back then.  I started combing the time period for at least three female journalists that spoke to me.  Of the three I chose, Nixola Greeley Smith stood out the most.

Clipping from The Evening World - Newspapers.com

Nixola Greeley Smith is the granddaughter of Horace Greeley, a man who established The New York Tribune.  She worked on The New York World for most of her career as a journalist.  She interviewed well-known figures like Thomas Edison, Helen Taft, members of New York’s high society.   My favorites articles concern much more common issues of the day.  For example, for most of her career, she kept a love advice column.  (Think Sex in the City but just set in 1901, LOL)  She offered an award to “working girls” (prostitutes) to allow her to interview them so she could show the world what it was really like to become a “working girl.”  Nixola covered the Thaw Trial which was the first time a woman took the stand and had to describe her own rape in public.  She wrote about girls wanting to be boys so they wouldn’t have to follow so many rules.  She wrote about women cursing.  She wrote about marriage, about children, war, women’s votes and any other subject that struck her fancy.  This is where I think she shines.  She didn’t care if no one else would say it.  She knew the people wanted to hear the truth.

Recently I have made some tremendous progress in my writing.  I have finally finished 5000 words!  Eeeeeeekkkkk!  The most fascinating part of this process is the list of subjects I’ve researched.  It is an odd list.

  • Turn of phrase during the turn of the century
  • Curse words-native to the time period
  • Clothing for both middle and upper class
  • Vehicles, carts, trolley’s etc
  • Restaurants, vendors on the street etc.
  • Telephones, telegraph, messengers
  • Office environments, cubicles, set-ups
  • Brooklyn Bridge-when was it finished?
  • Common names for the time period
  • New or common food for the time. e.g. Gum

See what I mean.  I never thought about all these little things I would need to know a little bit about in order to recreate an authentic replica of the time period.  And I’m only three chapters in!

I didn’t think about needing to understand basic turn of phrase that fits the time period.  I found this to be the most fun subject I researched.  For example, a talkative woman was sometimes referred to as “a church bell.”  If you wanted to call someone brave, you might use the adjective “bricky.”

What is your research process like?  Do you use any particular sources?  Do you research before/after/during your writing process?  Let me know your tips and tricks!

Til then,

-Sarah the Nerd

My Theatre Shenanigans

Some of you may or may not know, I love to volunteer at my local theatre!  I’ve dreamed of auditioning for a long time and I think I just might later this year.  Currently, my community theatre is running Beauty and the Beast.  Though I miss some the fantasticness that comes with the animated film, I really do love this play.  Belle is by far my favorite princess.

I’m only a prop runner, which is an important but rather trivial role.  So, that means I have a lot of time to watch.  I like to learn from watching.  I watch the dressers turn the characters into completely new ensembles in under 30 seconds.  I watch the director give orders and the music director coordinate the musical numbers.  There are different kinds of actors.  Some actors concentrate very hard on their next lines, while others seem at ease even when they make mistakes.  I enjoy spending time with the actors who really enjoy what they do.  Even though they don’t get paid a dime for their time and effort, they really put everything into each performance.  They have such big hearts and they welcomed me like a second family.  ❤

Some actors are very kind to the dressers and the crew, and some are not.  They complain about being there and I wonder why they came in the first place.  I wonder if I’ve ever lost my passion for something I used to love.  Not ever second of volunteering is going to be fun or eventful.  I realize that, but shouldn’t you be able to find something you love even in those crummy moments?  Maybe I’m just rambling but what I mean is, instead of complaining, or quitting, I’d like to be like one of my favorite volunteers (let’s call her, Barbara) and be happy even when the director is grumpy, even when she gets bad feedback, even when her costume is heavy and hot, even when she can’t get other volunteers to help with a task.  She still wears a smile and genuinely has a blast almost every night!  Yeah, I want to be like her ❤

If you think about it…she’s a little bit like Belle.  She’s a little odd, but it’s her uniqueness that makes her so intriguing.  That’s why we love her.

Below: My personal copy of King Arthur that is currently being used as a prop in the play!

Til next time,

-Sarah

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Just Being Honest…

I’m not sure what it is…I’m just going to be honest about it.  I haven’t been blogging since the start of 2019.  I didn’t even really do a proper post when I finished my #40booksin2018 goal!  I want to be honest about my absence and quit making excuses for myself and maybe then I will be able to figure out what’s going on with me.

I’m not always motivated to write.  I love to write, but sometimes I deliberately avoid it.  It doesn’t matter how much time I do or do not have, how many positive quotes I save as my lock screen wallpaper, or how many times I say to myself, “I’ll write later today.”  I still don’t write when I don’t feel like it.

For the first time in my life, I’m actually sick of my feelings running my life.  I don’t “feel” like working out.  I don’t “feel” like getting up early.  I don’t “feel” like writing.  I don’t “feel” like working on that project.  True I don’t HAVE to get up at 5am.  I don’t HAVE to work out.  I don’t HAVE to write a blog.  However, if I want a different kind of life, don’t I HAVE to do the things most people would not do?  Yes.  Getting where you want to be is not easy.  I used to think if I was just making progress, I wouldn’t care how hard it was to get it done.  That’s definitely not true.  I care A LOT.  I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to sticking it out.  When things get tough, I tend to bail.

I rarely look at my shortcomings because it makes me so uncomfortable.  I’m not doing this for anyone to feel sorry for me.  I’m facing this reality because you have to admit when there is a problem or you will never start looking for a solution.  The hardest part of the solution to my problem…is the fact that it is simple.  Easy answers are always the hardest to implement.  I simply have to ignore how I feel and do what needs to be done regardless of whether or not I’m in the mood.  Easier said than done, I know.

So, obviously…I need a plan.  *cue the dramatic music*

So if you don’t already know, I am a journal freak!  I have way too many and I use them for different things.  I have a traditional journal where I write on big days in my life (birthdays, graduations, etc.).  I have a complaining journal where I’m allowed to say whatever I want even if it’s hurtful (it helps me work through my feelings and thought processes). I even have a time-of-the-month journal…go ahead and judge me if you want. Lol.

close up journal

This is a journal by Atticus, an amazing poet (which is no longer available, unfortunately, *sad face*)!  Get his second book, The Dark Between Stars here on Amazon and follow him on Instagram @atticuspoetry

He also has some amazing prints for sale on his website at: www.atticuspoetry.com

I’ve decided this will be where I write down my victories.  I will plan them and I will execute them, one at a time.

My first priority is an illustration project I’ve been working on for over a year now.

My second priority is to read at least 100 pages a day.

My third priority is writing either for my blog or for my novel, every day.  It doesn’t matter the volume.  Simply write every day.  I need to create that habit of writing.  You’ve got to write a lot of crap so you can get to the good stuff.  lol

Let’s see if I can make my New Years’ resolutions last a little longer than February 1st. lol

-Sarah

bookshelves far shot