Posts in announcements
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, WORDS LIKE SILVER!

If you'd told me that a piece of my identity I created for myself in seventh grade would still exist, I'd probably be very concerned. Looking back, I don't trust my preteen taste.As of today, I've been running Words Like Silver for eight years, and finding the words to describe how I feel is difficult. I want to articulate how much this little blog has gone through, and how amazed I am that it's still one of my favorite pieces of my life. Some years, I let the anniversary pass with little fanfare. Other years, like this one, call for a bit more reflection.Eight years is two student generations. High school, college. So much change that it's comforting to know I have a constant -- something that I exclusively do and work for, that external circumstances can't affect.Despite evolving interests, I am a reader and a writer at heart.It's not that I thought it wouldn't last, when it started. I was in seventh grade though, and started a post-midnight project (as one does), and never expected it to shape so much of my identity.But I'm proud. I've built this site from the ground up, expanded it into a lot of different creative functions and places, and kept it going regardless of what I have going on. I've built a loyal following of readers, a curated aesthetic, and a fierce gratitude for all that's worth loving (and talking about.) And reading continues to be a foundation for me.If you're just popping in to see what's going on today on the blog, welcome, and happy birthday to Words Like Silver! If you're sticking around for my reflection, I have a lot of thoughts on how far it's come.When I started this blog in seventh grade, I was just looking for an outlet.I'd been frustrated, both with feeling like I didn't relate to those around me (a little middle school misery for you) and in being lumped in with my identical twin sister, despite having divergent interests. I'm a passionate person, and that was extremely draining. Most people didn't take me seriously when I talked about my passions because of my age.Additionally, I credit "the twin thing" for a lot more than I used to, because it caused my desire to forge an identity that was solely mine, not related to somebody else. (Even now, I hate when people view us as two halves of one whole, or frame me in relation to Hannah.)I'm still excruciatingly shy -- the quiet twin, always. I'm still intensely driven. Those aspects of my personality haven't changed, but having something that I've built gives me a lot more confidence and the freedom to be independent. (Although having an excuse to hide behind a book or a camera doesn't do much for the introversion.)In 2012, the blog became real when I had a blog post get some traction in the book world and suddenly started getting involved in the publishing industry. I met a lot of people who helped me to develop my voice more and get involved in the behind-the-scenes. Started caring about upcoming years' titles and not just the books that had been on my shelves for ages.I started editing manuscripts, talking to authors, created buzz for upcoming titles, and even helped out with the formation of some elements that made it into real books. (I'm nothing like the main character of this book, but my answers and interviews helped the author to create a blogger teen, and I appreciate having helped with something so tangible.)The blog has never been huge, but I'm affectionate towards the small, loyal community of readers that I have, and I love it so much. I love the feeling of somebody telling me they found a new favorite book because of a post, or getting sucked into a conversation about a book we've both read.My teen years passed. I read a ton. Started moderating a book club for teenagers in my hometown. Worked at a bookstore.I edited a book that made it onto shelves. Saw books published that I'd seen as Publishers Weekly book deals. Advanced copies I'd had hitting the bestseller lists, being turned into movies. Attended conferences and panels and events. Wrote some myself. I thought I'd work in publishing, and although that perspective has now changed, it's responsible for a lot of my growth.Even now, the scope of the history I have with the publishing industry feels surreal, and having my creativity/intensity validated was something I'd needed then.It had always been a hobby rather than a pursuit, but WLS influenced nearly every sphere of my life. I met some of my best friends through blogging (either directly through comments or online interactions, or because it was a reason they recognized me later.) Instead of being a Smith twin, exclusively, I was also "book girl."In 2016, I went to a tiny college (which I'm still attending!) and the blog was the reason I felt comfortable talking to people -- because everyone had shamelessly online stalked each other before heading off to Lexington, and it was an easy way to introduce myself. (In fact, I met one of my best friends when he went up to me the first night and told me I had a typo on my most recent post.) As the years passed and stressors changed, reading felt more like a luxury and I appreciated the ability to be able to sink into a read and widen my perspective.Reading has always been a way for me to keep ahold of my identity. To root myself to what I believe in, and what I love. Escapism or inspiration.One of my favorite quotes by Pablo Neruda captures it well, how much I just love sharing my interests.

“Take it all back. Life is boring, except for flowers, sunshine, your perfect legs. A glass of cold water when you are really thirsty. The way bodies fit together. Fresh and young and sweet. Coffee in the morning. These are just moments. I struggle with the in-betweens. I just want to never stop loving like there is nothing else to do, because what else is there to do?”

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Words Like Silver was the catalyst for a whole host of interests and explorations. I describe it as the umbrella under which I fit all of my creative pursuits, and as the manifestation of all my passions.Fundamentally, I took photos, and talked about books that fascinated me, and taught myself an assortment of skills. I've gotten to work with some phenomenal people, and some lovely brands.Having this blog led me down a rabbit hole of creative activity. I wholeheartedly fell in love with lettering, with art, with hunting for coffeeshops. Got really into design, in a ton of different spheres. I developed a new appreciation for anything well-curated, whether that was a brand or a space or even just a person so wholly himself or herself that everything they do just feels so spot-on. I love the niche of distinctive voices, and I love that sharing keeps me grateful.It's all been a natural evolution, a series of changes I never particularly noticed until they were so fully ingrained in my identity that I couldn't imagine being anything else.I read. Make happy lists. Write often. Save up for plane tickets and just wander through places when I can. Take photos. I pick up instruments, and create art, and dance way too much for someone who no longer dances. Everything about the way that I am is directly related to loving forms of art and media. I throw myself into projects and hobbies, and keep forging ahead independently, and I (of course) write about it on here.I have no plans to ever stop writing. I assume that one day I'll just feel like it's time to let this little site go, but that day hasn't come yet. It's my platform, and it keeps me going.This post is a lot of then-and-now. When I started, books were my thing. I'd come home from school, do my homework, go to lacrosse or dance, and then come home and read until I fell asleep.Now, I'm spread across a lot more activities on campus (although I'm giving myself a real, full senior year!) and prioritize time with people more than I did. My family's made up of readers, so in my hometown, it was a lot easier to get away from distractions. At school, I'm aware of how little time I have there and how many different pieces of it I want to try.I've branched out into coverage of a lot more of what makes me a person. I'm passionate about books, and those will always be my foundation, but I'm much more comfortable talking about other things I love too: places, music, foods and drinks, shops, publications.Because WLS has built a lot of the way I operate -- my organization, philosophies, interests, priorities -- I have no doubt that my future career and life will incorporate a lot of the lessons I've learned from running this little place. The aesthetic I've curated or instinctively developed in my years of collecting, creating, and posting. I just want to be kind and smart and work hard, and the blog helps. Reading builds empathy and gives you perspective. Reading teaches me so much, and allows me to explore other interests. And blogging proves to me how much I can do if I keep my head down and put my mind to it.I'm hoping to end up working in content creation of some kind. Or social media. Or design. Something that incorporates all the elements of running WLS that I love.

I love to crunch the numbers, especially on anniversaries, because it lends more weight to the idea of EIGHT FULL YEARS inside my head. I've been writing on here for a long time.It's been 8 years. I've read 1652 books, approximately.(You can see more by stalking any of my "Read in" pages in my header, for given years.) Written 825 blog posts. My blog's been read by over 150,000 people. I've written two manuscripts myself, and an uncountable number of poems and stories. And we're still rolling.Although it's something I've thought about, especially on Instagram, verbalizing an aesthetic always feels odd. I'm shameless about my use of the word, because it's the most apt description of what I love to chase: distinctness. Beauty in the little things. I love the elements of intention incorporated into styling -- whether it's food in a restaurant, or a gorgeous piece of design, or a book photo.Because I'm trying to do use my creative energy for a career, I started an art portfolio website, full of mood boards, my style, and my pieces. Because it's been eight years and I'm overdue for a personal audit, I'm going to review a lot of the way I unconsciously structure my Instagram.On it, I discussed my aesthetic as including evocative words, romantic styling, and "fond references to nature." The filters I gravitate towards are vibrant and underexposed, with bold colors surrounded by browns and greens. As a whole, I aim to spotlight anything that makes my mind race -- usually books with a tinge of existentialism.My aesthetic, in some ways, goes back to my happy lists.

bookscoffee & pretty beveragesthe woodsFLOWERSlightsreflectionsroads & nomadic imagescozy chaosscrawled words, collage, that crafted touch!

While there are some aspects of my visual taste that remain constant, at times I'll notice trends weaving their way through my photos. For example, I've noticed that most of the photos I've posted in the past few months have a glow to them: the fading sun, or a light leak. When I'm at camp, my photos are all green-tinted and full of foliage -- and paint and clay, from teaching my activities. When I'm in Canada, it's all dark wood and golden hours on the porch. Although my social media is curated, it feels authentic to who I am and what I prioritize. It's not glitzy, unless I'm posting travel photos of places that took my breath away. I fully embrace the embarrassment of staging props for a photo in front of my friends. (It's also easier to maintain a genuine perspective when I'm posting words, because I feel like I can tamper those images down more if necessary.) I like having photos for memories, but try not to let that desire creep into the moment itself; some elements of my life are too precious for interruption.Although I'm drawn to capturing beautiful images and moments, life is also bumpy, and I never want to make it seem like it's picturesque. As a person though, I usually keep a rosy perspective -- I'm an optimist at heart. I'm conscious of the separation between posting beautiful photos and the assumption of an exemplary life.Recently, I haven't been posting as many book photos (because I've been reading a ton of ebooks from the library) and that's a way my feed has changed. I still struggle to articulate what exactly about my Instagram makes it "Grace" -- saturated colors, vibrant textures, my penchant for captions with back slashes --  and how to use it as I start in the workforce!Still, it's one of my favorite spaces. I love to talk about books, clearly, and I love being able to capture moments of beauty that are satisfying to me. It's the same feeling I get when I go back to read my journals, or stumble across a quote that perfectly articulates a feeling or sensation that I thought would be impossible to preserve. That, at the end of the day, is what WLS is all about.At the end of the day, thank you to everyone who's been there for me through it. Who's supported me as I've been a stubborn, introverted workaholic. Who's given me a leg up in pursuing my interests. Everyone who's read a book I've talked about in an Instagram caption or blog post! And all the people I love personally, who put up with the intensity and appreciate the existential book talks, the sneak-reading, the quick photographs. I love you all for it.Cheers to eight years of Words Like Silver, and hopefully many more.

Winter Hiatus

Hey y'all!

It has been a while since I've taken an extended amount of time off from the blog -- which is something I never want to do. Anyone who knows me knows that my blog is my FAVORITE activity. But after a lot of thinking, I've decided to take a few weeks off to focus on getting healthy.The flu really beat me down into the ground, and I have notoriously awful lungs. (A job application recently asked me what my memoir title would be, and my final answer was "The Aesthetic Asthmatic.") My 53% effective lung capacity and I will be taking some time to fully recover. Plus, hopefully taking more time for catching up on work and less time for screens will mean that I get plenty of reviews written. (As much as I can restrict myself from posting, I can't seem to stop myself from reading and writing...)In the meantime, let me know what y'all want to see! Message me, tweet me, shoot me an email. I'll be taking a break from social media as well (and will likely lose some followers over it), but I would LOVE to hear your suggestions and incorporate that to the blog content I'm psyched about this spring.See y'all in a few!

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ALA & NOLA

Hey y'all!As you're reading this, I'm currently either flying to or exploring in New Orleans, Louisiana. I've never been before, and I'm psyched to be doing my first (and probably only) solo trip this summer.I decided relatively recently to head to the American Library Association's annual conference, which is big for several reasons.For one, it's been two years since I've been to a publishing conference. It doesn't sound like that long ago, but I last went before college, back when I was still convinced I would work in publishing no matter what, and when I was still totally up to date on industry everything. Two years has changed a lot. For one, I've been reading mostly older releases, or books I buy myself; I haven't done as much reviewing for upcoming titles. For another, I have more options in terms of working, so I may not actually end up working for a publishing house like I'd always expected. And then I'm also much more comfortable with leaving my schedule up to fate.I've never gone into a book conference this blindly. Back before I first went to BookExpo America, I'd have nightmares about screwing up my schedule or missing books I'd really wanted. This year, I'm more curious for the conversations I can have with publicists, especially because I have a much better grasp on my taste. I'm willing to be a little adventurous in what I read this summer, and I miss the freedom of browsing.I'll still put together a list of must-have titles, but it'll probably be much smaller than in years past. I've already read The Wren Huntwhich was the book I was really dying for in 2018 (and it lived up to the hype!) I'll probably cut my days a little shorter to go explore the city because I love cities with character, and what has more personality than New Orleans?Hoping to write a spectacular wrap-up when I'm back (and get to dish on all the hot books coming up throughout the rest of the summer.) If you have any suggestions for where I should go, or what I should try to read, please let me know in the comments!See you on the flip side.

Here's the Plan: Summer 2018

Hey y'all!It's Grace here, typing from Tampa, which is where most of my posts for the next few months will take place. For the first time since I was nine and started going to summer camp, I'll be home for the summer -- which is both comforting and scary.For those of you who just finished up BookExpo America, I hope you're having an absolute blast. I'm hoping that I might be able to sneak a trip to New Orleans for ALA Annual since my "side" (read: bookish) life will be taking precedence this summer. I have lots of time to get the blog to the standard that I want it to be, which is difficult since I'm a perfectionist.I've had a few of my summer plans fall through, since this is my "selfish summer." Because I go to a tiny school that doesn't quite offer the skills I need to work in my chosen field, I'm hoping to boost up some of those while I'm home -- teaching myself via books and online classes. But I'll get to that later.From January to March, I was steadfastly convinced that I'd be in South Africa for the summer. I was going to do an abroad internship in Cape Town.And then the water crisis started complicating our plans. We got moved about an hour outside of the city -- which was my main purpose in visiting, because the town itself is SO COOL -- and there was a lot of uncertainty. Also, my brother is in the military and this July would be the first time that my siblings would be all together to go to Canada. So my parents sat me down, looked at my offered internship and the expenses of the trip, and asked me to seriously consider whether I'd be willing to give up my abroad experience.So I ultimately decided that family time and the accommodations of our trip meant that I'd be justified in not going.When I got elected to be our school's Vice President for the next year, I told myself that I would take an easy summer. Force myself to relax before taking on so much.Instead, I then threw myself into planning for hiking the Pacific Crest Trail with a friend. We planned the section and equipment and all. I was psyched to get to spend some time outdoors. While I've always been a huge nature lover, I got really into it this winter/spring term -- spending any time possible hiking with my favorite people. My PE 180 (backpacking) course retreat was my absolute favorite -- camping under the stars, hips sore from my backpack digging into my sides, collapsing with that satisfied end-of-day exhaustion. I was going to spend two to three weeks in California on the trail.That (very recently) got nixed because my parents realized that I am a twenty-year-old girl. I definitely want to make PCT or App Trail happen when I'm older (and I'm kind of nervous that I'll never get the chance to) but it was definitely devastating that it's considered unsafe to do it now.So I'm at home.While I recognize the value of having a lazy summer, I don't do too well with being cooped up. So I'm looking for ways that I can really tap into my creative side and just get work done on my laptop.Currently, my schedule is divided -- my ideal schedule versus what I'm currently following. I'm still in that phase of recovery in which I've been rolling over and falling right back asleep, so I usually end up wasting my morning sleeping. I've also been spending a ton of time in the sun though, so I still feel like I'm winning in that regard.In a magical world, here's what I would be trying to do.

8:00 am -- get up and run -- distance depends on my half-marathon plans.9:30 am -- post-shower breakfast, coffee, checking emails, reading news, etc,.Note: my preferred columns aren't news at all but instead Brain Pickings + Modern Love.10:30 am -- blogging -- the business side of the creative fun1:00 pm -- lunch!2:00 -- rest hour (yes, this is shamelessly a camp schedule)3:00 -- studying/online class (coding, design, etc,.)6:00 -- write/make art7:15 -- yoga!8:30 -- dinner10:00 -- read

Because I'm home for the purpose of being serendipitous and untethered, I'm going to try and go with the flow with what pops up. But I'm also significantly happier when I have structure and am being productive. So this is the goal. I just want to spend as much time as possible in the sunshine, learning, and making things.I'm in that phase of college when people are starting to figure out what they're doing (and some of my friends already have jobs, which is terrifying) so I'm getting a little panicky about not having an exact plan.I know I want to do something creative: branding agency, content creation, entertainment-oriented, event planning? Anything along those lines.Anyways, most of those require having a portfolio, a tad bit of coding know-how, and some mastery of Adobe Creative Cloud. Unfortunately, W&L doesn't offer graphic design classes because we are tiny. So self-teaching/online classes are the way to go.I'm currently putting together my portfolio website -- luckily, I enjoy putting together websites, as evidenced -- and I've been doing a ton of hand lettering. I love it, and I'd love to get a shop up and running.Also, since I have this summer free, might as well start prepping for grad school exams. Chipping away a little bit, day by day.As for my personal life, being in warm weather always puts me on a health kick. It's so much easier to exercise and be healthy when the temperatures are high. My entire family is trying to eat paleo during the weekdays, and I've been training for a half-marathon -- so that in itself is something to work towards all summer. (It's very slow-going.)First of all, I want to schedule blog posts through the end of the fall semester. My goals? To have at least a review and a Waiting on Wednesday post per week -- a book I've read and one I'm looking forward to.I genuinely enjoy working on content during the year, but I hate when the blog goes a week or two without a post -- when I'm swamped with work or haven't been reading. I read so many books over the summer that go un-reviewed or undocumented, and I have so many suggestions when friends ask me for recommendations. Now that I have the time, I can absolutely find creative ways to spotlight those.Over the summer, I want to put together compilations of mood boards, playlists, recommendation groupings, and more so that I'm featuring books in a way that fits with what I'm looking for within them -- atmosphere, atmosphere, atmosphere.Just ideas whirling around in my head, but that's something I'm psyched to try out.June is a lot of filling dead space. Towards the end of the school year, I started getting pumped up for events that will happen later this summer, and it's part of why the days have been going slowly.Every summer, my family goes to Canada, to a lake house that's pretty separate from society. We spend two weeks wakeboarding, reading, playing cards. It's always been the epitome of summer for me, and I couldn't be more excited that everyone's going to be there this year. (As much of a bummer as it is to miss South Africa, that was something I couldn't give up!) It's shaping up to be a good year for the island, and I'm counting down the days.I'm also looking forward to going back to camp, which was something I hadn't expected I'd be able to do. My camp counselor self is my best version of myself, and I adore being able to take care of a crew of girls. I love campfires and friendship bracelets and archery and the smell of pine.Aside from that, I'm hoping to be able to visit friends at some point. (I swear, my entire pledge class is divided between D.C. and New York.) Some city hopping would be fun, and it'd be good to do a little traveling even if it wasn't the kind I expected.

What are y'all up to this summer?

Six Years

Today marks six years.

I bought myself flowers. I went to the bookstore. It was Easter, obviously, so this wasn't my main priority -- but it's what I thought about as I settled in poolside with a stack of reads.

Truthfully, I don't entirely remember what was going through my head when I sat down and created Words Like Silver. It never felt like a conscious choice. One day, I was just rolling. Before I knew it, it was who I was -- and who I am. People know me from here, they see a lot of me through here, and it never fails to be the passion project that makes every day just a little bit more worth living. I feel a little bit more purposeful. Even just talking about books.

I am "book girl." I'm the one staying in to finish a cliffhanger. I'm the one reading on my phone when I don't know anyone in the room. I'm the one people go up to and say things like, "You're the one with the Instagram, right?"

Throwing myself into something so esoteric, and with so much damn work involved, meant that I was placing myself on a path to always be slightly different. Which, in seventh grade, I never really stopped to think about. It can get lonely sometimes, sure, being so passionate about such a niche. Or staying up to finish a post instead of going out. But it's what I love, and I'm forever grateful to have that chance. To be here, writing, having spent almost a third of my life here.

I also forget, exactly, how much this little website has done for me. How many unreal opportunities I've had because of it. I've been to publishing conferences, I've gotten involved in a whole spectrum of literary endeavors. There's a book out there with a main character written based on my interviews. There's a book out there that I edited. There are multiple books out there that I've beta-read, or reviewed, or are now NYT bestsellers that I held in my hands as battered, hyped up advanced copies. Absurd.

Especially during transitional years or tough times (like now, when I've had a really horrible month), I'm reminded by how books make me feel alive. They're vivid, and they're real, and they remind me that there will always be people around me grappling with circumstances that can humble and awe me. Both escapism and representation.

Thanks for sticking with me through it. It's been a wild ride, and it'll continue for as long as I can keep it going. Even with new responsibilities this year, popping in has made me feel so much more like myself. Words Like Silver is where the heart is, y'all.