Left Brain, Right Brain

One of the things that keeps me blogging is not only having the ability to instantly express myself, but also having the opportunity to play around with technology, software, CMSes, coding, etc. My left brain often craves fiddling around with WordPress themes and widgets and getting things just so. The tag line “code is poetry” occasionally comes to my mind, even though I’m far from considering myself a coder or even a full-fledged tech geek.

Still, I love how left-brained, analytical, exacting technologies have allowed all of us to be more right-brained and creative.

Spotted in Venice last week #latergram

A photo posted by Melanie Renzulli (@missadventures) on

Now, I’ll tell you the real purpose of this post: I really wanted to test out WordPress 4.2’s new “Press This!” functionality, which WP says will make it even easier to update blogs on the fly. Although I sometimes enjoy tweaking WordPress to get it to do what I want, I prefer it when I can insert a link, type a few words, and go without having to think much about it.

If WP’s latest update does what it says it does, then you should see a recent Instagram from me above. Did it work?

I’m hoping to blog more here, on my personal site, when I’m not writing posts on Italofile. If this on-the-fly blogging makes it easier, then stay tuned for more posts on writing, tech, travel, parenting, and all the other subjects that pique my interest beyond the 140-character limit of Twitter (indeed, my long-running, oft-updated microblog).

P.S. I am also posting more links to my professional Facebook page these days. Feel free to follow me there, too.

How I Live as a Writer

Clandestine coin collection in front of the Pantheon


If you’re a travel writer, this is a topic that often comes up. Will you take a sponsored press trip, a trip that is planned for you and/or a group of other writers, so that you can see places you may not be able to afford to go? Or, do you go it alone, rebuffing PR offers in order to maintain your objectivity or, at least, to stay in the good graces of publications like the New York Times, which blacklists – at least temporarily – those writers who have taken them?

Being sponsored is murky territory in the travel writing domain. It is the crux of discussions over travel writing ethics, conversations which seem to come up every time there is a conspicuous travel blogger hashtag campaign on Twitter. Sponsorship in travel writing – that is, having a trip partially- or fully- funded by a third party – is a grey area because many of those who write about travel cannot afford to work otherwise.

But there is another type of sponsorship that has been setting the writer discussion boards ablaze. At the end of January, Ann Bauer published “Sponsored by my husband: Why it’s a problem that writers never talk about where their money comes from,” an article with a cringe-worthy title and similarly obnoxious anecdotes relating to writers with money. Bauer offers a sympathetic tale of her own writing career path, one that she forged while poor, overworked, and living with her parents and that is now sustained by her second husband’s “hefty salary.” She makes the point that writers “do an enormous ‘let them eat cake’ disservice to our community when we obfuscate the circumstances that help us write, publish and in some ways succeed.”

I read many angry responses to Bauer’s piece. The article seemed to draw a line in the sand between those who are “sponsored,” i.e., those who come from money, have connected families, or married well, and those who are the “real” writers, i.e., those who hustle while living paycheck to paycheck or write on the side while working a full-time job. Writing from the perspective of those in the second camp, Laura Bogart, for Dame Magazine, writes, “I live in that in between of deadlines and bagged lunches, scrawling dialogue and outlines of scenes on the back of an agenda for a nine a.m. meeting. But it’s better than relying on anyone else for the roof over my head.”

As I read both of these articles, I couldn’t help but think there is a third reality. It is my reality. And in the interest of full disclosure, I will reveal the circumstances that allow me to write and publish.

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Writing Prompts, Prompt Writings

I’m doing it.

Here I am on the first day of NaNoWriMo — National Novel Writing Month — tapping away in a WordPress window. I am writing. Or, should I say, I #amwriting?

I don’t have to write a novel. But that’s what a lot of other writers are doing this month. The goal for most is to log 50,000 words, enough for a novel, by the end of the November. According to my tweetails, I already spend 28 hours every month JUST WRITING TWEETS (on average 33 per day). So 50,000 words should be a breeze, right?

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