Welcome to this Saturday Edition of What We’re Writing and Reading in which we 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!
Saturday in the park … I’ve been waiting such a long time for Saturday. I’m totally dating myself, but that’s the mood I’m in. Can you dig it?
It has been another week of gorgeous fall weather and wonky writing schedules, but now it’s the weekend (and a long one at that). Shortly after this goes live, I’ll be heading into Boston with my family (Mom, Dad, and my daughter) to see the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at the Museum of Science. I’m looking forward to seeing these 2000 year-old texts up close and personal.
I have been receiving lots of emails from the Office of Letters and Light, also known as the headquarters of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? Have you done it before? I won’t be participating officially this year, but I love the extra writer vibes that circle the globe as writers from all around this little blue-green planet attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days.
What I’m Writing:
I wrote about this dedicated group of volunteers, the outstanding caliber of their performance, and the vitality of live music in general in an earlier column called Summer – The Season of Music. I was delighted to have the opportunity to write about the organization again, and also happy to practice my interviewing skills. I put the advice of my fellow Live to Write – Write to Live bloggers to good use, brushing up on my interviewing strategy with Wendy’s post, Tips for Writing a Feature or Interview Article, and going high-tech with Lee’s recommendation for the TapeACall app (which, by the way, worked flawlessly and is now officially one of my favorite writing tools).
What I’m Reading:
I also didn’t have much time for reading, BUT that doesn’t mean I went without any literary sustenance.
Rather than dive into one of the novels I’m enjoying, or even snapping up a few short stories, I opted to partake of some poetry.
I am what I lovingly refer to as a poetry idiot. I know next to nothing about the form and am often baffled by it, but I still enjoy it. After the mandatory poetry study of my high school years, I abandoned poetry in favor of novels. It wasn’t until I became a mom (nearly twenty years later) that I rediscovered the distilled beauty and language economy of poems. As a new mom, I had almost no time to read. The long lapses between chances to read and the reduced capacity of my sleep-deprived plan conspired against any novel-reading aspirations I had. So, I turned instead to an old poetry anthology that I found languishing on the shelf and made do with gobbling short bits of literary goodness between diaper changes and non-naps.
Recently, I have been enjoying more poetry – less out of need, and more out of a desire for gorgeously descriptive and metaphorical language. This week, I treated myself to three poetry books – one an old favorite, and two new discoveries:
Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors (affiliate link) is the first book I came across by this talented pair. A Caldecott Honor Book, Red Sings from Treetops is a collection of color-inspired poems that take the reader on a journey through the seasons. I loved this book first for Zagarenski’s beautiful illustrations, but came to treasure it just as much for Sidman’s wonderfully detailed and sensory poems that evoke all of natures miracles – from the most expansive to the tiniest.
What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms, and Blessings (affiliate link) is the most recently published work by this duo. Sidman’s introductory Note to Readers begins, “We speak to send messages to the world. We chant for what we want, bless what we like, lament what we’ve lost. When angry, we curse; when in love, we sing.” This beautiful collection is both deep and down to earth. It includes the poems Invitation to Lost Things, Lament for Teddy, and Blessing on the Smell of a Dog. It also includes When Death Comes, I Find Peace, and Song of Bravery.
This is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness (affiliate link) Published in 2007, this is an older collection, but I was delighted with its premise and execution. For the first half of this collection, Sidman’s imagination conjures a classroom of sixth graders who have written poems of apology to friends, teachers, pets, and parents. The second half contains response poems – poems of forgiveness – from those who were slighted or hurt. It’s a lovely idea that I imagine has inspired many poems of apology in the real world.
And let’s not forget the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:
- Best Business Advice for Writers: September 2013 by @JaneFriedman – Always a great wrap up of posts.
- Never get good @ the things you hate doing or you could miss making out w/ Robert Redford by Illana Burk – Not specifically for writers, but – man! – this one was a bit of a sucker punch. Burk makes it clear that the time to start pursuing your dreams is not tomorrow. It’s today.
- What Makes A Good Short Story by Heidi Pitlor of @BAShortStories – I was delighted to learn that Pitlor, series editor of the annually published “The Best American Short Stories,” would love to see more humor in short stories.
- You, as the Muse Sees You by @SPRessfield – Pressfield gives it to you straight. I’d like to meet his muse.
- The Power of Sacred Time: The Writers Edition by @birgitte_rasine via @write_practice – I SO need more of this.
- Bestseller Success Stories that Started Out as Self-Published Books via @huffingtonpost – In case you need a little inspiration and hope.
- Rowling’s Outline Method and The Book Architecture Method: How they can both push your writing to a new level (Pt1) via Write Like Rowling – Fascinating look inside J.K. Rowling’s planning process.
- 17 Misused And Made-Up Words That Make You Rage from @buzzfeed – Grammar geeks unite. (This one’ll make you laugh!)
- And, just in case you thought YOU were a book hoarder: The Man With 59,000 Books — In His House