The Freelance Life: Revisiting a Writers’ Roundtable

Some interesting thoughts here about freelance writing. I particularly appreciate the advice of writing on your own blog if you want more exposure. This has been my own path, and it has served me well! Of course I have written for free in the past, and continue to write for other publications for additional exposure. Either way, it’s important that these kinds of publications help to build your brand and your portfolio.

The Daily Post

Earlier this year, we talked to four professional writers about the freelance life, getting paid to write, and writing for free and exposure. If you missed it the first time, be sure to read this roundtable, full of great advice for new and aspiring writers in particular.

Here are highlights from the Q&A:

Give us a breakdown of your typical day.

Every day is different. I start by reading the New York Times. I listen to BBC World News or two great WNYC radio shows, The Brian Lehrer Show and The Leonard Lopate Show, from which I get story ideas and learn about the world.

I start work by 10:00 am — I’m not a morning person! If I’m working on a story, and usually several at once, I’m seeking sources, conducting interviews, writing, reading, or revising the pieces and answering questions from my editors.

Like most working…

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New Publication: Women’s Adventure Magazine (.com)

A number of years ago I attended an outdoor writing conference in Boulder, Colorado, hosted by Women’s Adventure Magazine. This conference was my first real exposure to this magazine, and ever since I’ve had it on my radar to contribute to it at some point. Their female-specific content is very refreshing in the realm of outdoor publications, which I find are generally quite male-dominated. The magazine allows women to be inspired by stories about other women and to tap into interests that ultimately need to be catered to the female experience.

Recently, I connected with their online editor, Susan, and am excited to announce that I will be blogging from time to time for Women’s Adventure Magazine. While I still have my eyes on the print magazine and would love to contribute there at some point as well, the website will be another great outlet for my words and ideas around adventuring as a woman.

You can read my first post here! The Adventures in Parenthood: Counting Down the Days.

My author archive is here: http://www.womensadventuremagazine.com/author/meghan/.

Highlights of 2011

I don’t know about you, but the end of each year brings me the opportunity to take a glance at the previous years and all the joys, challenges and trials that came with it. Scrolling through my blog from this past year brought back many happy memories and, most of all, heaps of gratitude for the adventures and new experiences that came my way. Here’s just a sampling of the highlights from this past year! Thanks to everyone that have made my dreams a reality.

January/February

30 Day Yoga Challenge – I kicked off my year with a kick in the rear!

February

Launch of The Campsite Blog – A new home to write about inner journeys and the outdoor world.

Joined the team at Highline Magazine as the new Editor.

March

Launched the new meghanjoyward.com.

April

Took a trip to Nunavut, including a 5-day ski touring trip through Auyuittuq National Park (pgs. 20-21) and the Arctic Circle.

June

Launch of the new HighlineOnline.ca – a brand new website for Highline Magazine.

Hanging out with Everest on Gokyo Ri, Nepal.

July

Got to try mountain street luging with CBC – check out the footage!

Had my first cover feature story, an article about ultrarunner Ellie Greenwood for IMPACT Magazine.

Published The State of the Mountains Report with the Alpine Club of Canada – a 27-page report on climate change from the perspectives of Canada’s famous mountaineers and scientists.

August 

Wrote a brand new consumer brochure for Banff National Park.

September

Attended the Social Venture Institute at Hollyhock on Cortes Island, British Columbia.

October-December

Published the Winter 2012 Issue of Highline Magazine – my first as Editor.

Launched the trailer for Mountains in Motion: The Canadian Rockies, a timelapse film for which I am writing the script.

Spent 9 weeks hiking in the Nepal Himalayas and researching the impacts of mountaineering and tourism on the local culture.

Here’s to a wonderful and amazing 2012! 

Interview on Park Radio

I was recently interviewed on Park Radio about my life as a writer, my journey there, my thoughts on social media and more! You can listen to the 14 minute podcast by clicking this link.

Thanks, and feel free to comment below after listening to the podcast.

Perfecting Your Craft: Take a Leap (Matt Trappe)

This month, photographer Matt Trappe brings us this guest post as part of a series he’ll be contributing called “Perfecting Your Craft.” You can look forward to his photo tips at the end of each month! – Meghan

Bonsai!  I took this photo on a snowshoe hike in the Sierras this past month with my friend James, a fellow outdoor enthusiast.  We completed the 7-8 mile hike along the ridge between Mt. Judah and Mt. Lincoln near Truckee, California, in about 4-5 hours that day.

Nikon D7000 18mm f3.5 1/640 ISO100

During the hike we approached a high point on the ridge and James gave me a heads up that he was about to leap off a large rock ahead into the powder below.  Here’s where I needed to be creative and quick because the rest happened in a matter of seconds.  Here I go!  First, lighting.  I knew the sun was off to our right so I raced to the right side of the rock so that the sun was on James and not shining into the lens.  Next, composition.  I fell as low to the ground as possible to add more drama to his jump. I grabbed a bit of the rock and snow for perspective/framing at the bottom while planning for James to jump into the upper 2/3 of the photo where the height of his jump would be emphasized.  James sailed off the rock and right into my planned location with one hand holding his poles and the other pointing to the sky.  My autofocus shifted and the shutter clicked right on cue.  The low angle I had taken for the shot allowed his facial expression to be framed perfectly by his outstretched arms (got lucky there!).  The clouds at that moment were very wispy and in this case had been wisped by the atmosphere in just the right way to help the viewer draw their eye towards James in the center.  Perfect!

Afterwards, I am always critical of ways I could have made the shot better.  That’s part of perfecting your craft, right?  I thought, “what if I could have dropped on my back around the backside of that rock to get a snail’s view of James sailing overhead?”  Or, “what about a photo taken from behind that could have shown James appearing to be jumping off of a cliff since the rock blocked the rest of the ridge ahead?”  So many possibilities with so little time to react!

A great photographer can anticipate these moments and quickly determine what he/she sees as the best composition.  It all comes with practice.

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This guest post was written by Matt Trappe:

Matt is an emerging photographer specializing in Outdoor Adventure and Travel Photography.  See Matt’s portfolio and blog at www.trappephoto.com.

You can also catch him on Facebook (www.facebook.com/trappephoto) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/MattTrappe).

Tradition…What’s It For?

I take a moment this holiday season to write you a post out of the ordinary from my usual style. I hope you’ll enjoy. Have a very Merry Christmas! – Meghan

This Christmas I’m wondering “when did we all grow up?”

This afternoon I went sledding with my almost 3 year-old nephew at the same hill I slid down as a child. I came to the base of the hill that I used to think was the most massive hill in the world. Today that hill – only 20 feet high – was suddenly towering again. My nephew was tentative at first, but one slide down in his wooden toboggan and the kid was hooked.

 

Getting ready to head down the hill with my nephew.

I’m facing a bit of a mountain myself these days. I’m getting married in 4 days and for some reason I feel like I’m climbing a new peak. Instead this time I’m not coming back down the same way I went up. As excited as I am, whenever someone says ‘congratulations’ to me these days I tend to think to myself, “for what?” It’s not to be rude or to discount the joy this occasion brings to my life, but I simply find myself wondering what it is exactly that I’ve accomplished. I’ve found a man I love and adore. I’ve nurtured the relationship with him for the past 5 years. But, in many ways the path of our lives just converged at the right time. Everything happened as it was supposed to, even when I didn’t understand it. I’ve worked hard, I’ve struggled, I’ve laughed lots, I’ve questioned, I’ve been cared for and I’ve melted many times with love, but so much of it was beyond my control. I just have the Great Provider to thank for the gift of this man.

Marriage was something I looked up to as a child. In many ways it was presented as something to be accomplished. For many (perhaps too many) people, marriage is the ultimate goal before the next ultimate goal comes along. Conversely it is the ultimate let-down when it doesn’t work out. By having a long-term dating relationship I was able to think a lot about what marriage means beyond the way I perceived it growing up. A three week solo trip in Costa Rica back in 2009 gave me plenty of time to reflect on what it meant to love another person, and be loved, in that way. I dissected the subject so much that I actually became disenchanted by the whole idea. The thought of walking down an aisle in a white dress in front of 150 people nearly put me into epileptic shock.

I questioned what the point of marriage was when so many people were getting divorces. According to this article, 30 percent of Canadian born in 1984 (that’s the year of my birth), witnessed the end of their parents’ marriage or cohabitation by age 15. That means that by the time I was sitting in my classroom in grade 10, almost a third of my classmates had been through that horribly dividing event. I do not take it lightly, then, that my parents are a solidly lasting pair.

It’s not that I feel my relationship is doomed to a horrible outcome – at all – but over the years, I have begun to question the hype of the multi-billion dollar wedding industry. Like many things in our culture, marriage is just one more thing, like Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Easter and Christmas, that somehow has all the joys of the occasion sucked out of it by Consumerism. I was determined to keep it as far away from this as possible.

After reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s attempt to tackle the topic in Committed, I started to gain an understanding of this important tradition gone wild. There was a way to celebrate it for what it truly is the way we can celebrate the true meaning of Christmas amidst the Best Buy commercials and Boxing Day deals.

There used to be an angel with big lips, too. My mom made these when she was just a bit younger than me now. They have been the butt of many family jokes over the years, but hey, it’s tradition.

Later this afternoon I watched The Muppet Christmas Carol, an all-time family favourite, with my family and my two young nephews. Though we fast-forwarded through the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, ie. the grim reaper who is far too scary for the little ones, it still made me think about traditions. During my sobering study of what it means to get married, I often got stuck on this concept of traditions. Some scared me as much as the ghost we fast-forwarded through, but mostly I have learned how much I love traditions. And this is what weddings are all about.

Traditions help us hold on to the past, but instead of dwelling in it we get to re-live it. I turn on that movie and nibble on some of my mom’s homemade squares and feel like a kid again. Now I share those same traditions with the next generation and, while the speed at which time moves forward almost knocks me off my feet, I cherish them above all else.

Today I spun with my nephew down that little hill and held him tight through the stuffing of his snow suit. I found myself saying ‘again! again!’ the way he did upon reaching the bottom of the hill.

And here’s where I land with traditions. Don’t let them die. Walk down the aisle, however that looks, and surround yourself with family. Love others and let yourself be loved. Again and again.

© Meghan J. Ward, 2010

NB – On December 28th, I won’t be walking down an aisle, but I’ll be celebrating at a beautiful restaurant in Old Quebec City surrounded by 20 of my friends and family. It’s okay to put your own spin on traditions.