This is kind of lame, but I guess I’m coming out of hiatus to post about furthering said hiatus. In short, I’m doing NaNoWriMo – 50,000 words in 30 days. As of right now I’m not sure whether it’s an excellent idea or an awful one, but either way I’ll let you guys know come December!
Stephen King announced the release date for a sequel for The Shining, and the world consequently freaked out.
Interesting literary tidbit: more than half of YA books are purchased by adults. Go figure.
The Millions tells us How to Write a Movie About a Writer, which apparently involves lots of tweed.
I believe in rereading books, and so does Write Anything.
Publishers Weekly did a piece on unfinished novels by great writers (Edgar Allan Poe fans, take note).
Thanks to this article, you too can write funny.
And finally, librarians celebrate their occupation with tattoos. Didn’t know this was a thing, but I’m kind of glad it is.
Where are you? I want to know. We had the literary Brat pack, we had the Lost Generation, we had Kerouac and Ginsberg most of all—bless their Beaten souls. But these years are slipping by without a name to define them.
This generation needs a group of writers to arise, so step up. Let it be you, let it be us. We need to create a new generation of Lost. Imagine, for a moment, that you and I could reach this level of renown. I want the scholars to go back and study our text messages, to glean from our emails scraps of literary glamour and genius. Everything we write will sound like music, even the mistakes.
It would be so wonderful to fascinate someone, don’t you think? We could pull it off. There is so much potential bottled up inside of us, leaking out once and again in the creative writing class we were only taking for fun. We have yet to meet, you and I and the quiet boy with the glasses who sits between us, but when we do it will be incendiary. With our words we will set the world on fire.
So where are you, then? The Lost and the Beaten and the Broken—I need to get to you. Together, I swear we will scrawl the pages of our own future.
Disclaimer: this may make people think you’re a little crazy. This will not be my fault. Maybe you are.
With that out of the way, I’d like to make a suggestion. You have writer’s block? Bet you still talk just fine. You know that idea you’ve been having trouble putting down on paper? Maybe talking it out will at least get it out of your head.
So, do this: take your phone or some kind of recording device, set it down in front of you, hit record, and start talking. You may feel a little ridiculous. Talking to yourself tends to have this effect. But if it’s something that works for you, it will get easier after the first few minutes of awkwardness. When you’re done talking through your writer’s block, play it back and transcribe any spoken words that captured what you were trying to say with your pen. Maybe it’s cheating a little bit, but if it got the words on paper, it still counts.
The new David Foster Wallace biography is out, and with it D.T. Max reveals a few childhood writings that he hypothesizes “spent at least a little time pinned to the Wallace family’s refrigerator.”
Authors are uniting against sock puppets, but not the kind you’re thinking.
The Awl provides us with an alphabetical list of “writer food,” featuring apples, booze, champagne, dexedrine…
The Hugo Awards have been announced, and you can read a free sample of each winner here.
A valid question: Is Free Verse Killing Poetry?
A new picture of Emily Dickinson has supposedly surfaced, and she’s actually almost smiling.
The New York Times weighs in on an apparent human longing for lists.
This is different: Hartmann Book Live is an event giving readers the opportunity to watch Silvia Hartmann write her newest book via Google Docs.
Flavorwire compiled a list of the twelve most beautiful (online) literary magazines in existence.
This summer I read Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis, which I suppose you could call a modern-day Catcher in the Rye. (I swear this isn’t a book report.) The protagonist of the book, Clay, is a college freshman home in LA for Christmas break. Over the course of the story he reconnects with old friends, though in actuality I think he loses more of them. Now, the matter of whether I liked the book itself is a story for another day. The point is that it got me thinking.
Why aren’t there more novels about college students? I know it’s only four (or five—more power to you) years of a person’s life, but its inherently transitional nature and the accompanying avalanche of emotion is straight-up literary gold. It’s also something that needs to be explored further in literature.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the before and after books—youth and adulthood alike. But what about the exploration of those amorphous in-between years? Ellis capitalizes on this in Zero—college is a time to drift away from old relationships, create new ones, and reconfigure the few that stay and last. There’s nothing quite like it. College holds a certain brand of independence that cannot be recreated in any other period of life.
So, here’s my challenge to the world: these books need to be written. I’ve never understood why YA has the sub-category of “coming of age” novels—honestly, you don’t have to be an angsty teenager to come of age anymore. Plenty of people do it in college. There’s definitely an audience for books like these, not to mention a wealth of relatability. So why not?
You probably had to read The Handmaid’s Tale in high school. But even if you didn’t, it’s hard to be unaware of a writer as prominent as Margaret Atwood. Her literary career spans forty-three years, her publications are numerous, and, as seen below, her wisdom is endless.
1. Take a pencil to write with on aeroplanes. Pens leak. But if the pencil breaks, you can’t sharpen it on the plane, because you can’t take knives with you. Therefore: take two pencils.
2. If both pencils break, you can do a rough sharpening job with a nail file of the metal or glass type.
3. Take something to write on. Paper is good. In a pinch, pieces of wood or your arm will do.
4. If you’re using a computer, always safeguard new text with a memory stick.
5. Do back exercises. Pain is distracting.
6. Hold the reader’s attention. (This is likely to work better if you can hold your own.) But you don’t know who the reader is, so it’s like shooting fish with a slingshot in the dark. What fascinates A will bore the pants off B.
7. You most likely need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality. This latter means: there’s no free lunch. Writing is work. It’s also gambling. You don’t get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but essentially you’re on your own. Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don’t whine.
8. You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book, because you wrote the thing. You’ve been backstage. You’ve seen how the rabbits were smuggled into the hat. Therefore ask a reading friend or two to look at it before you give it to anyone in the publishing business. This friend should not be someone with whom you have a romantic relationship, unless you want to break up.
9. Don’t sit down in the middle of the woods. If you’re lost in the plot or blocked, retrace your steps to where you went wrong. Then take the other road. And/or change the person. Change the tense. Change the opening page.
10. Prayer might work. Or reading something else. Or a constant visualization of the holy grail that is the finished, published version of your resplendent book.