Reading · Teaching · Writing

Saturday Summation – 12 March 2016

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 research for your writing a dragging time-suck? Or is it a fun diversion? Either way, author John Vorhaus talks of how effective it was for him to directly connect his writing with his research. In other words, he engages his characters right away with the information he finds by writing scenes that had his characters interacting with the information. I love this method and it is what we as teachers try to encourage our students to do every day with all of their new learning. If you’re writing an historical, for example, why not create a dialogue between characters right away within that time frame? Even if you don’t use that scene, you’ve now internalized the information and, as Vorhaus says, bench-tested it within your story.

If you are super wordy, like me, then this post on how to cut-cut-cut thousands of words will be useful. I’ve used the first two suggestions repeatedly!

MM Fink wrote a lovely piece about the necessary connection of truth, empathy, and hope in fostering our creativity. Further, she helps show how our shared experiences as writers can make a huge difference in this “Creativity Trinity”.


Reading/Writing Stuff:

If you are a reader that wants a peek into the novel-writing process or a writer who is still trying to work it all out, I highly suggest you start following author Jenny Crusie’s blog – especially her posts tagged in “Writing Craft”. The one I linked here is a bit lengthy, but it’s a great example of getting an insider look at how Crusie basically “thinks aloud” her writing/plotting. If you love her stuff like I do, it’s an even bigger bonus. 🙂

What is with the trend behind “The Girl on/in/with..” titles recently? Sure, copying a pattern for a title is an interesting marketing ploy, but I really appreciate author Amy Sue Nathan pointing out the bigger issue in the fundamental use of “girl”. What the titles really mean is “woman”, right? What would you think of a book that was called “The Boy on the Train” instead of “The Man on the Train”? Hm.

Okay, here’s my tough news of the week. JK Rowling has been doing a teaser to her upcoming HP-related book, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by sharing a 4-part series on the Pottermore site called “History of Magic in North America”. The problem? The woeful appropriation of Indigenous cultures within it. The problematic nature of most of what she has written is multi-fold, but by even simplistic terms, I see right away that she has lumped ALL Indigenous cultures into one, “the Native American community” – and that doesn’t even cover all the other issues. Author Deb Reese, an active spokesperson on behalf of various Indigenous nations within literature and advocate author Justina Ireland have spoken a lot about this on their Twitter feeds. I can already feel many of my white contemporaries on the precipice of saying “but Rowling meant well” and/or “it’s still supportive of Native American peoples”, but Ireland said it best when she said the Rowling “phoned it in”. I know it would be tempting to just give Rowling a “pass” on this, but before you consider that, read this former fan’s thoughts to understand better the implications.



Video of the Week

This speech by Nancy Hanks, chief of public schools in Madison, WI moved me in her call to all of us – primarily in education – to understand that we are all contributors (or have been) to the school-to-prison pipeline. Her speech is vulnerable and important. (Unfortunately, I am unable to embed.)



2 thoughts on “Saturday Summation – 12 March 2016

  1. I’ve been thinking a lot about this “girl” thing lately, trying to figure out why it doesn’t really bother me the way some seem to think it should. What I’ve realized is that when I’m using “girl” for myself or for another grown woman, I’m not using it in the same way I’d use “boy”. I’m using it as a female alternative to “guy”. The Guy on the Train wouldn’t bother me. I guess there’s “gal”, but that just doesn’t feel as comfortable. Language and it’s use is nuanced.


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