I’m back with more advice for those new writers out there. This time, I’m challenging the image that you probably have of marketing.
Confession time: I have never “gotten” the whole obsession with Genealogy thing. It seems like such a self-centered hobby, finding out a few people who relate to you and moving on. I’m a Historian, thank you- I deal with meta-trends and conduct research that benefits us all. Unless your great grandmother was Queen Victoria, as far as I’m concerned, you need to get over yourself.
I’m sucked into the genealogy vortex
Last month, my Grandmother loaned us a copy of one of those local history books that sketches out the background of all of the families that have lived in the community over the past century or so. People drag out mementos and in the South the story of how their illustrious ancestor single-handedly won the Civil War for the South. (really!) My Dad’s family was included in a family that I know only a tiny bit about, but I have been curious (okay, obsessed is a better word) about my great-grandmother. I was horrified to learn that her own grandmother was killed during the U. S. Civil War while going to have corn ground to feed her family. I also learned that this woman’s name was “Arabella Elizabeth Gaillard.” Looking at the name, I realized that it must be French. Looking online, I noticed that her French ancestors immigrated to America pretty early, about 1680 or so. I also noticed that they tended to live in a few cities in France. When I looked the cities up on Wikipedia, I noticed that they were all Huguenot (French Protestant) strongholds.
Not just “French” but “really French”
Long story short, it turns out that my ancestors were Protestants for several generations, in direct defiance of the French Crown and the Catholic Church. While I adore the French people and I loved every second that I was there when I visited in college, despite my best efforts, the French language and I have never been friends. In fact, I consider the French language to be my arch-enemy. Once I learned that things were personal, I had to start improving my French so that I could do some research on my family.
I have to admit, as an academic I’m excited about the idea of regularly scouring and reading primary documents in a language other than English. I also like the challenge of looking at overseas archives and manuscript depositories. A few months ago, French was the bane of my linguistic existence, and I had decided to keep it in maintenance mode because I might never need to use it professionally.
Learning that I am very, very, VERY French, however, means that I have a reason for improving my language skills that I’d never counted on. Sure, I’ve used Spanish for work, learned the Scandinavian languages for the sheer enjoyment of it. But now I can add “unraveling a personal mystery” to my reasons for learning a foreign language.
I’ll update you all on my research and findings. Until then, au revior!
If you’re looking for a way to speed up your comprehension of written French, reading from a French newspaper is one of the most effective (and cheapest) ways to do so. For the past six months, Transparent Language Blog has compiled an extensive list of newspapers from across the country, and you can add them to your RSS feed for a daily dose of French.
In addition to the French blog, Transparent language has bloggers- usually native speakers- who post on a regular basis about the language and the countries culture associated with each language. There’s an extensive list of languages that are covered- some as exotic as Icelandic.
Newspapers are great for improving your vocabulary and overall understanding of any language. Many articles are written in the present or past tense, which are common tenses for students. The reading level is about middle to high school, so you don’t have to worry if you’re getting in over your head by reading them. Finally, you can learn some idiomatic expressions and plays on words by reading a newspaper.
My ancestors are from Grenoble and La Rochelle, so I tend to follow the newspapers from those cities. I made the mistake of putting the feed for the Ille de Re (the island off the shore of La Rochelle where my ancestors lived in the 1600s) into my main Twitter feed. Now I have to deal with reading traffic reports from across the globe, which makes me have to stop and think about what I’m reading.
Every field has its jargon, and in this video I’ll explain the basic terms you’ll find in translation.
(Why do I look like one of those angry anchors on Fox News in this thumbnail?!?!??)
Believing in them wastes your time and holds your writing career up.
Who doesn’t like going shopping for more books? I know I do.
Youngey Mingyur Rinpoche changed my view of Buddhism and anxiety when I learned that he struggled with panic attacks from an early age. For some people, depression and anxiety go hand in hand, while others deal exclusively with anxiety issues.
Any time any spiritual leader opens up about dealing with mental illness, it has a profound impact on me.
For the full story of how he used his Buddhist faith to manage panic and anxiety, start here:
The rest of the interview is here:
Most freelance writers FREAK OUT at the idea of going overseas to find markets. The first thing they worry about is contacting an editor who might not speak their language. But the truth is that there are plenty of publications and websites from outside North America that are looking to work with new writers.
If you’re worried that you can only speak and write in English, take heart. You can develop an entire specialty working for foreign markets that are written entirely in English.
In this video, I talk about looking for overseas English-speaking markets. You can do it!