Saturday Edition: What we’re writing and reading

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! 


headshot_jw_thumbnailSaturday 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:

ooh2I didn’t have time to get any posts published this week, but I did enjoy working on a feature for my local paper on an upcoming performance by our community orchestra.

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:

 (Affiliate Links)

Each of these books is a collaboration between the same author and artist – poet Joyce Sidman and illustrator Pamela Zagarenski.

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:

Finally, a quote for the week:

pin real writer

Now – go write. Go read. Go revel in wordy-nerdy-goodness. See you on the other side! 

13 thoughts on “Saturday Edition: What we’re writing and reading

  1. I enjoy your blog. You are so positive and upbeat, which is nice on a Saturday morning. I’m reading Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal today. Just two more chapters left. I’m hoping to make some serious edits on chapter 11 and 12 of my own novel today. My sister and I are having a serious writing/editing session tonight so I really appreciate the inspiration.

    • First of all, I love that you and your sister have writing sessions together. That is very cool.
      Second of all, I will have to check out that Pratchett book. I haven’t read any of his work except his collaboration with Neil Gaiman on “Good Omens” (which I love).
      Finally, thanks for coming by. 🙂 I’m happy to be upbeat and have so much fun sharing the good stuff I find out there on the web.

  2. Great attitude. I’m also a NanoWrimo Participant 2013. It is one great experience. I am writing on my blog every single day. Part of the Post A Day Program on WordPress. I’m reading The Last Present by Wendy Mass. You’d be surprised to know how interesting this book is. I’m so scared to read on, yet I want to. It’s a great book full of thrills and adventure. It’s definitely about the true bond of friendship. My Quote of the Week is, “Do what you love and nothing will get in your way.”

    • Hi! I will have to see if my daughter might like “The Last Present.” It sounds very exciting!

      Great quote – worth following! 🙂

      • It is really interesting but I think she should read 11 Birthdays first. It’s part of a series and 11 Birthday by Wendy Mass is first. Finally by Wendy Mass is second. 13 Gifts by Wendy Mass is third and fourth and last book is the Last Present. Thank you so much. Would you do me so much as a favour by checking my blog:!!! Please!!

    • It IS a great quote, isn’t it? Steven Pressfield is a great inspiration to artists of all kinds.
      Happy to think I’ve provided some encouragement.
      Enjoy & see you back here soon!

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