blogs

How I Write Blog Posts

A while ago—emmm, okay, almost a month ago—fellow Spain blogger (and in-real-life friend!) Trevor Huxham tagged me in a blog meme about how I write my blog. I wanted to write right away, but I got caught up in traveling and visits to Zamora and just never got around to it. Nonetheless, here I am, writing about writing. So very meta. So let’s get down to it and talk about my personal writing process. Then I’m supposed to tag three bloggers, but I’m not sure I’m going to do that just yet. We shall see.

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Me, in Puebla de Sanabria, back when I first started blogging

What am I working on/writing?

Let’s be honest here. I was a much more prolific writer during my brief stay in the U.S., when I was working in an office and had a lot of free time in which to sit at my desk, twiddle my thumbs, and want for my phone to ring. Meanwhile, I typed up blog posts in a Microsoft Word document so as to appear busy should my boss walk by while I wrote.

Nowadays, I wait for inspiration to strike. It usually does so in the most inconvenient moments, like in the shower or while I’m falling asleep. When it does strike me while I’m at the computer, I write in down in a notepad document. Often I’ll go back later and scoff at my idea, but there are some times when I do not, and I decide to write about that idea.

Right now I’m working writing about our recent trip to Asturias, and that’s about it. In the future (maybe January?), look for a big, mega write up about bureaucracy in the U.S. (I’ll leave it at that for now.)

How does my work/writing differ from others of its genre?

My blog is, of course, less about the best sites to see in Madrid and more about my everyday life and curiosities about Spain and/or Spanish. I’m not very good at sticking to a theme, and I suppose that makes me not so marketable. That said, I like who I am as a blogger, and I don’t want or expect to make much money from this blog.

After having lived in Spain for five years, I consider myself something of an expert on expat life in Spain. I recognize that I have not lived here for that long, but I do know a few things. I am no longer surprised by the things that shock first year English Conversation Assistants, like the lack of dryes or the fact that Spanish customer service leaves much to be desired. I like to think I offer a deeper, more nuanced understanding of Spain and Spaniards.

Of course, I am married to a Spaniard, and while there are many like me, this aspect of my blog allows me to see a different side of Spain. I have been to small village celebrations (think 150 inhabitants!), eaten countless dinners around family members’ tables, been exposed to cultural traditions and subtleties that others just do not have the opportunity to witness. I’ve been to several Spanish weddings, picked apples at my husband’s family’s apple orchard, seen my in-laws making homemade chorizos and salchichones, gone to factories to buy discounted wheels of delicious cheeses, and learned the ins and outs of Zamora from the locals. I now walk along its streets, and as they say there, I am somebody, because I can’t walk down the main drag without meeting someone I know.

Why do I write what I do?

I write what I do because I like it, I love it, I believe in it. I don’t want to write anything inauthentic or false. I love Zamora and Castilla y León, so I write about them. I don’t write a lot of how-to posts, mainly because they’re difficult, so I leave them up to the better-suited ones.

I write for my family and friends, who can keep up with me through this blog. I started blogging for them, and I always keep them in mind when I hit publish.

I write for myself. I like sharing my experiences with others and not feeling so alone. I also like having this archive of my life, of this special time in my life. I love to look back on my anniversary posts or the time my in-laws were just about to visit Indiana or my wedding day. I love to read and reread old entries. Perhaps I sound self-interested, but a journal is a journal, even if I do happen to put it out there for everyone to read.

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How does the writing process work?

What a great question! It depends on what the post is about. If it’s about a trip, and pictures are necessary, I first have to process the photos from the trip. We take pictures with my iPhone 4S and our shared camera, a Canon Rebel T3i. We’re not experts (yet!), but we take pretty decent photos.

I write using Windows Live Writer, which is much easier than using WordPress’ browser editor. From WLW, I can easily publish the entries or post the draft to my blog. It has all sorts of tools that I like, including automatic linking, spell check, word count, and many more.

After I publish the draft, I put it on WordPress’ preview mode to see it more clearly and examine it for typos. Of course, I’m not perfect, and I let one or two through from time to time. This is easily edited afterwards. I can choose to have my post automatically tweeted on Twitter and shared on Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, etc.

Who I’m Tagging

I’m just going to do a cop out and tag anyone who wants to do this! A lot of people I follow/would tag have already been tagged.

Thanks to Trevor for tagging me; it’s been fun!

About these ads

“Everyone Can Travel”

This a big, heavy topic, but I’m certainly not qualified to speak on this topic in any sort of academic way. But for the past five years I’ve been writing and blogging about my experiences in Spain. At first I read other small-time bloggers, but I soon became aware of a much wider circle in travel blogging. You know who I mean—the eternal travelers. These people seem to be living a dream (well, not my dream, but certainly they are the envy of many others): They travel to new sites constantly, they get free hotel stays, they bungee jump off bridges in Australia … You get the picture. These people are paid to travel the world. And I’m happy for them! What an experience!

Nonetheless, I would like to refute some claims by some bloggers that this is an achievable dream for everyone. No more excuses, they say! I quit my boring desk job, and look at me now!

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My Favorite Spanish-Language Cooking Blogs

When I first came to Spain, I didn’t have a kitchen. I didn’t have a refrigerator. I lived in a renovated convent in the midst of Toledo’s casco antiguo.

Then, in Salamanca, I had a small kitchen. Quite adequate, actually. At least I had an oven, which isn’t always the case, I’ve learned. I have always loved baking, so I started baking for Mario, who will never say no to a galleta, chocolate-chip or otherwise. The only problem? I had no measuring cups. Measuring cups are another one of the US’s particularities. Most of the world cooks and—especially—bakes in grams. It makes sense. A cup of all-purpose flour doesn’t weigh the same as a cup of another type of flour. Using grams is more precise.

That didn’t help me, though. I had to use Google to convert all my cups of flour to grams, often dragging my laptop into the kitchen and using flour-stained fingers to type “1 cup of flour to grams” into the search bar. Annoying. There had to be a better way.

I’ve found that following Spanish-language cooking blogs is the way forward. Not only do they use grams and milliliters, they also don’t call for ingredients that are difficult, if not impossible, to find in places like Zamora. (In Madrid, it’s not impossible to find anything.) Moreover, it was a way for me to explore new dishes, ingredients, and flavors. A win-win!

Thus, I’d like to present to you all, some of whom I hope speak Spanish, my favorite cooking blogs written by Spaniards. I hope that you find them as interesting and worthwhile as I do.

ElComidista

El Comidista. El Comidista is written by Mikel López Iturriaga, who started his blog, Ondakín, and was later picked by up El País, one of Spain’s national newspapers. Mikel doesn’t just share delicious, in-season recipes; he also talks about all things related to gastronomy: restaurants, kitchen gadgets, cookbooks, culinary pop culture, etc. It’s always an entertaining read. Check it out:

JaviRecetas

Javi Recetas.  Behind Javi Recetas is José Javier Cabanas, a firefighter and student. Javi always proposes accessible recipes as well as useful information, like how to desalinate salt cod. I like his basic recipes especially.

RecetasdeMon

Recetas de Mon. Recetas de Mon is run by Mónica, born in Barcelona.

CocinandoentreOlivos

Cocinando entre Olivos. Erik pointed this site out to me (and to his other readers, of course). The only problem I have with it is the lack of recipe summaries, so to speak.

Biscayenne

Biscayenne: para golosos irredentos. Since I have one major goloso (person with a sweet tooth) at home, I love the name of the site. I’m not very familiar with Spanish desserts, but I’m learning. Step by step. This site is a great way to learn about the very traditional desserts like flan and, like Emeril, to take them up a notch or two.

A Freír Pimientos. There’s an expression in Spanish: “¡Vete a freír esparragos!” (Literally, “Go away and fry asparagus!” It means, basically, get the hell out of my sight. So I can’t help but think of that when I read this website’s title, which means (in my loose translation)

NoMasTuppersdeMama

No Más Tuppers de Mamá. This blog is run by three guys in their 20s, and it all looks finger-lickin’ good. Their recipes are both simple and elaborate, delicious and simple. Also, they come with recommended playlists, if you’re into that sort of thing. The three guys—Carlos, Marc, and Adrià—met in Manchester during their Erasmus semester abroad. If you don’t enjoy cooking, follow their blog at your own risk—you may be tempted to start.

So there you go, the Spanish-cooking blogs I follow. What about you, any recommendations?

Blog Envy and How I Got Over It

I get envious sometimes. Don’t we all? I think of Lena* and her beautiful family, Sara* and her running skills, Jessica* and the book she wrote, Ellen* and her blog … you get the picture. But since I’m a blogger, I used to get jealous of others’ blogs and their respective audiences, thinking they were better than me or more popular than me or more likable than me. I know blogging in the Internet and therefore not the “real world,” but it’s only natural to want to be liked, even if we’re only talking about the Internet, right?

*I made up all these names. Shhhhh.

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Love me?!

I started this blog as a way of keeping up with my family. At first, I updated very infrequently; my blog didn’t have a voice—it was more like a mass email anyway. But as I start finding more and more expat blogs, more Spain blogs, more blogs in general, I began to think about my audience and what they might like to read. I tried to develop a voice. I was in a perfect place to write humorous things about Spain—very cynical, actually, because I was having an immensely difficult time in Spain that year, 2010–2011, even if I only came off as angry. (See: How to Dress like a Spaniard, 15 Rules to Thrive in Spain, Not as Exciting as You Might Think.)

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Not-so-angry at a wedding in 2010.

Nowadays, I feel sort of popular at times. I get sweet emails from readers, which I love. I get to interact with a lot of fun people on Twitter. But there are way more popular people, people with prolific readerships, people who seem to get a million comments a day. I think sometimes, How can I be like that? And then I realize …

I’m never going to be like that. I do self-promote, but I’m not a self-promoter. I do try to get more readers, but I don’t think too much about things like SEO, or advertisements, or how to strategically comment on popular blogs so as to garner more readers. I doubt I’ll become an editor at a travel magazine or website; I just can’t see it. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with such things, not at all. Rather, it’s just not me. I’m okay with that. I’m Kaley from Y Mucho Más, and I really believe there are plenty of readers who appreciate that. I don’t need to change. Neither do you, if you don’t want to.

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We should all just stay like this. Forever.

Do you ever experience blog envy? How would you like your blog to change (or not change) in the future?