Reading · Writing

Saturday Summation – 30 May 2015

Bits and pieces of things that caught my eye not only for my own interest, but enough to want to share with you, too…

Writing Stuff:

Is it a dream of writers to be able to quit jobs and turn to writing books full time? For many, it certainly is, but of course, it just doesn’t work that way most of the time. Agent Carly Watters explains why we shouldn’t jump the gun, but to me, I have to say that keeping another job not only guarantees income, but also more stories. We need to keep ourselves in the real world for real stories and characters.

A couple of weeks ago, the TV version of Game of Thrones aired a highly controversial episode involving sexual assault. Many were upset because it was an unnecessary deviation from the book (although, with only the first book to guide me, was it that much? You can see my thoughts on that book here) and given my post earlier this week, I feel like it’s a useful thing to link out to author John Scalzi here who gives a refreshingly brief and clear take on using sexual assault for characterization or a plot point. Obviously sexual assault isn’t taboo in a story, but too often authors (especially male, but females are not exempt) use it as a lazy way to shock or create action.

Author David Bruns shared his takeaway moments from a StoryMasters seminar he attended that was led by Chris Vogler, James Scott Bell, and Don Maass. A couple bits that I enjoyed seeing were “Every scene is a transaction” and “Pet the Dog”. Check out why. 🙂

Reading Stuff:

With BEA (BookExpo America) wrapping up and BookCon in full swing this weekend, more talk of diversity in publishing has made its way to the forefront, but understandably, authors of color are feeling frustrated that this conversation still requires so much work. Author Daniel José Older says  “one sure sign that the conversation isn’t over yet: the fact that authors of color are still the most outspoken about the need for more diversity in publishing.” Shouldn’t we all be outspoken? Roxanne Gay noted also that once again, recommended reading lists for the summer from both NY Times and NPR feature all white authors. Both editors indicated that these lists were not meant to be “comprehensive”. This is a lazy response.  Where in that “comprehensive” list would authors of color come in? I’d like to see it and I’d like to see critics realize how narrow their reading is if they can’t honestly put those authors of color in their top numbers.

Looking for a donation that will have impact? Well, lots of things will, but after reading this post by Kristen Cappy, I’m thinking that a positive way for me to encourage the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign is by providing my local library with the diverse books they don’t think to buy. She says “If books and stories change lives, if diverse books allow children of color to be seen and validated, then why is book purchasing not a major charitable action?” Check out her post about the book, New Shoes and value of history and entrepreneurship.

Reading and Writing Stuff:

I got a kick out of the opening of this post by author Maggie Stiefvater that mapped a faux dialogue between student and English teacher regarding the symbolism in a novel. “I think we’re just looking for stuff that isn’t there. The writer just put in an ocean because the book TAKES PLACE BY THE BEACH. And the rest was invented by evil English teachers.” Touché and so true, dear student. On the other hand, sometimes authors DO write things that are meant to have more meaning, that symbolize something, or that might carry a motif. Do I care if you will necessarily catch it? Nah, not if you still like the story. 🙂 So feel free to mock your English teachers, but don’t forget that they come by some of it honestly.

When considering #WeNeedDiverseBooks, let’s not forget about the LGBTQIA+ side of things, too (btw, I recently came upon a new acronym, MOGAI – Marginalized Orientations, Gender Alignments, and Intersex – thoughts? It sounds like this is meant to be a more inclusive one without having to worry about adding more letters.) Publisher’s Weekly published a great wish list by authors, editors, and bloggers on what they’d like to see in LGBTQ publishing.

 Currently Reading:

The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger

Video of the Week:

I read an article this week in our local paper about a production being put on at a St. Paul high school that provides a great storytelling experience for Karen refugees. Check out the article that explains it all in more detail here… a preview of it is in the video, below.

One thought on “Saturday Summation – 30 May 2015

  1. Great summation, Janet! I have to say on GOT that the development didn’t surprise me, but I’m not a GOT book reader. Figuring out if potting fits the theme and character is important. I think the controversy surrounding this episode is connected to this. Is it in character for the person who commits the rape–yes.

    As writers we have to ask this question of ourselves often. That’s when my “people” surprise me and I have to figure out if *I* think the twist fits. Happy Writing!


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