Welcome to this Saturday Edition of What We’re Writing and Reading.
We’re taking a little detour on the weekends now to share some of what we’re up to with our writing (when we’re not here) and what we’re into with our reading (around the web). We’ll also pull back the curtain a little to give you a behind-the-scenes look at what went into a piece.
We hope you enjoy this little diversion and encourage you to share your own posts and picks in the comments.
Happy writing! Happy reading!
Jamie Wallace: Happy weekend, fellow writers! I hope each of you has had an enjoyable and productive week. We’ve had a spate of hot and humid weather here that has encouraged indoor activities (not a bad thing for a writer). I’ve even had to miss a few of my morning walks because the oppressive weather was just too unbearable.
What I’m Writing:
My writing has been (and will be for the next couple of weeks) confined to marketing copywriting for clients. Summer has been oddly busy for me this year, but I like to think it’s because the Universe would like to deliver me a nice little lull in the fall (my favorite season). For now, however, it means day after day (including weekends) with my nose to the marcom grindstone. I may not be writing fiction stories, but I am still solving puzzles with words – figuring out the right headline, sorting out the right structure, culling out the fluff – so I figure I’m still exercising my creative muscles.
I also took the time to post a quick piece on my marketing blog. It’s a bit of an odd one that was inspired by a Dustin Hoffman video that was making the rounds on Facebook earlier in the week. The video (if you haven’t seen it) is an archive piece in which he talks about the epiphany he had about being a plain (as in not stunningly beautiful) woman while preparing for his role in the movie Tootsie. He becomes quite emotional. I posted the video on my blog because I thought it was a great metaphor to help illustrate the depth of understanding brands must have for their customers. Thinking about it some more, there are also some metaphors to be drawn for the writer. Watching Hoffman talk about his transformation into his alter ego, Dorothy, makes me think about how a writer needs to step into the shoes of both her characters and her readers. She has to really understand them from the inside out, see the world through their eyes, experience life in their context. Do you feel like you do that with your characters? What about your readers? I hope you’ll watch the video and give it some thought. It’s a pretty interesting exercise.
What I’m Reading:
After finishing My Name is Mina (the book I blogged about earlier this week in When a book unlocks your writer’s heart … thank you for all the wonderful comments … I’m so glad to know I’m not alone there), I felt like I was on a roll. I picked up a book that I bought while on vacation in Bar Harbor, Maine: The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating. Part memoir and part nature book, this short novel was another unique and somewhat quirky choice for me.
Author Elisabeth Tova Bailey tells the story of how she spent a year in the company of a small wild snail while bedridden. The book won the 2011 John Burroughs Medal for (for natural history books). Though I learned a great deal about snails (Did you know they have teeth? Lots of teeth?), I found the book fulfilling on a philosophical level as well. Like Mina it is a very “quiet” book. It takes place in a very small space and not much happens, but it still feels expansive. Perhaps it is the way the attention to detail brings the reader’s focus down to such a level as to almost “shrink” her until the tiny geography of the book – a potted violet, small terrarium, single bedroom – feels spacious.
I am enjoying my exploration of unusual (to me, at least) types of books. I have a couple of novels lined up and ready to read, but it’s been quite inspiring to discover other types of ways that writers tell stories. It makes me want to wander off with my pen and notebook and just play … but, that will have to wait until I wrap up these work projects.
In addition to Bailey’s book, I also (as usual) read my share of blog posts. Here are my favorites for the week. Enjoy & happy writing (and reading!).
CRAFT & THE WRITING LIFE
- 8 Online Productivity Tools For Writers by @thecreativepenn
- The Science of Storytelling: The Most Powerful Way to Activate Our Brains by @LeoWid via @lifehacker
- Less Cooking More Eating – 6 Ways To Stay Out of the Kitchen by @megworden (Busy writers don’t have time to cook.) 😉
- The 5 best writing books no one ever told you about by @mmangen
- How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes: Lessons in Mindfulness and Creativity from the Great Detective via @brainpicker (All writers are great detectives!)
- The Mistake Smart People Make: Being In Motion vs. Taking Action via @bufferapp
- 25 Common Phrases That You’re Saying Wrong via @lifehack
- 6 Ways to Sync Your Reader’s Brain w/Your Protagonist’s Brain by @LisaCron via @WriterUnboxed
PUBLISHING & BUSINESS
- The Number of E-Book Singles Released in Q2 Swells 18 percent, Reflecting Growing Market by Howard Polskin
- How to Optimize Your Blog Content for Social Media by @kikolani via @Msocialbusiness
- How to Market a Book if You Have No Audience by @robertbruce via @copyblogger
INSPIRATION & ENCOURAGEMENT
- 122. CHARLES BUKOWSKI: Roll the dice by @zenpencils
- Two Words Writers Should Avoid by Keith Cronin via @WriterUnboxed
- There is No Finish Line by @SandiAmorim
- Bill Watterson: Invent Your Life’s Meaning via @99u
- Hidden In Front Of Everyone’s Eyes – Our Own Potential by @DanBlank
JUST FOR FUN
- Whimsical desk buddy … an Instagram of one of my non-feline desk buddies. You should get yourself a writing mascot. I like this fella because he’s kind of Zen, but also colored like a rainbow.
- If wishes were horses via @TheBloggess (Not about writing, per se, but it was fascinating to read the secret wishes of this blogger’s audience. Serious fodder for stories.)
- Book Titles With One Letter Missing (20 Pics) via @pleatedjeans (This was so clever & funny … to the literary set, anyway.)
- Tiny Collaborative Stories via @brainpicker