You can order it here.
You can order it here.
I’ve never read Joy Williams, but now I’m going to seek her out. All because of this article by Lincoln Michel. She does a great job of spelling out what a short story should do, while giving her view of humanity and mentioning the current corporate nature of writing workshops. (Agree or disagree?)
I’ve got fiction in this issue (a chapter called “Manchester” from a new novel). Order it here.
This is happening 7pm at BookCourt, Monday June 27.
Join Sackett Street Writers Workshop and the Minorities in Publishing podcast for a discussion and Q&A with publishing professionals.
About the Event:
What exactly is the difference between marketing and publicity? Will my editor hate me if I need more time on edits? What will an agent expect when I sign with them? How do I query an agent? How do I even get my foot in the door of publishing? Questions like these along with many others will be tackled in “The Realities of Publishing” talk moderated by Jennifer Baker (creator of Minorities in Publishing, production editor) with Todd Hunter (editor, Atria Books), Ebony LaDelle (marketing manager, Simon & Schuster), Diana Pho (editor, Tor), Connor Goldsmith (literary agent, Fuse Literary Agency), and Stephanie Jimenez (associate publicist, Riverhead Books) on their experiences as well as what to expect as someone climbing the ranks in publishing or as a writer entering the business. A Q&A will be held after the panel and wine will be served.
Support Brooklyn independent presses a week from Saturday, then head over to the Queens Lit Fest in Long Island City.
For the first time since its beginning in 2011, the PEN Poetry Series will be open for unsolicited poetry submissions during the month of May. Following an overwhelming amount of support, queries, and enthusiasm, we’ll be reading poetry from all over the literary world for the upcoming month.
Please submit up to five poems in a single Word document or PDF. On the first page of your submission, please include a bio and any other relevant information about the poems.
Simultaneous submissions are welcomed and encouraged.
This sort of goes along with the last post about being mistaken for your protagonist. That would be fictionalizing yourself. But what about fictionalizing other people, or having other people mistake themselves for fictional characters based on small details you’ve procured from them to use in a story? This has happened to me with my first book. Michelle Huneven covers all the bases on this topic in The Paris Review blog.
Cool essay by Catherine Lacey in BuzzFeed about being interviewed about your book and being mistaken for your protagonist. Somebody once said, all fiction is memoir, or something like that. Maybe it is, but not exactly.
I realized that when reporters tease out similarities between novelists and their protagonists, it’s not only boring and lazy, but offensive to the whole point of writing fiction.
This comes from Belle Beth Cooper at Fast Company (link here), and can most definitely be applied to writing:
1. WRITE FASTER AND STRENGTHEN YOUR MEMORIES BY USING A PEN AND PAPER
Even if you’re not a fan of analog tools, you might be surprised to know there are some proven benefits to going back to basics. Although technology continues to improve, it still hurts our eyes to look at it for too long.
When compared to paper, reading or writing on a screen requires more effort and makes us tired faster. Even expert writers have been shown to write 50% slower when using a computer, compared to paper.
Lots of studies have compared reading and writing on screens and on paper over the past 30 years, looking at metrics like comprehension, speed, and accuracy. The general consensus remains that paper holds an advantage.
Writing by hand with a pen or pencil has some surprising benefits, too. For both children and adults, writing on paper has been shown to improve the strength and length of memories of new shapes, such as symbols used in music or the letters of a new language. It also uses more of the brain, as you need to make several strokes for each letter, so your working memory gets activated, as well as brain areas used for thinking and language. On a keyboard, one tap creates an entire letter, so your relationship with making the letter is shorter and more superficial.
2. A MESSY DESK TO EXPLORE NEW IDEAS
I prefer having a clean, tidy space to work in but research suggests I should get comfortable with disorder if I want to be more creative.
A 2013 study published in the Psychological Science journal found that a messy environment increases creative thinking. The study’s “messy room” also made participants more drawn to new things. The same study found that an orderly environment led participants to be drawn to “classic” items and to choose healthier snacks than those in the messy environment.
In one of my favorite talks about creativity, John Cleese makes a great analogy, saying that creativity is like a tortoise: It pokes its head out nervously to ensure the environment is safe before it fully emerges. Creative thinking won’t happen when you’re nervous, stressed, or busy.
If you have a messy, disorderly space for your creative work, having it removed from the hustle and bustle of everyday life could be helpful. Cleese explains in his talk that your creativity “tortoise” will learn to recognize your creative space over time as a safe haven where it can emerge.
3. A NOTEBOOK TO CATALOG IDEAS AS THEY COME
We all know a big part of creativity is coming up with new ideas. James Webb Young explores this process in his book, A Technique for Producing Ideas, in which he describes two principles of producing ideas:
An idea is nothing more or less than a new combination of old elements.
The capacity to bring old elements into new combinations depends largely on the ability to see relationships.
Although finding relationships is an important part of producing ideas, we can’t do that until our brain is full of existing elements to connect together. This is where the notebook comes in.
As Young points out, we often shirk the responsibility of building up this mental inventory, and wonder why we struggle to find new ideas. Instead of working systematically at the job of gathering raw material, we sit around hoping for inspiration to strike us.
To grease the wheels of creativity, we need to collect bits of information and observations so our brain has material to work with. Young suggests using index cards, which will force you to be concise in your notes, or a file so you can index everything and find it all again later.
This process helps to kickstart creative thinking in our subconscious, which is part of the series of brain states and processes that lead to a final “Aha! moment.”
The other thing to use your notebook for is writing down your ideas—good and bad. Studies from both MIT and the University of California Davis have shown that having more bad ideas also means you’ll be likely to have more good ideas.
4. A PAIR OF RUNNING SHOES TO SPARK DIVERGENT THINKING
SWEAT IS LIKE WD–40 FOR YOUR MIND—IT LUBRICATES THE RUSTY HINGES OF YOUR BRAIN AND MAKES YOUR THINKING MORE FLUID. EXERCISE ALLOWS YOUR CONSCIOUS MIND TO ACCESS FRESH IDEAS THAT ARE BURIED IN THE SUBCONSCIOUS. —CHRISTOPHER BERGLAND
If you’re not a fan of running, don’t worry: you can replace “running shoes” with bicycle or weights or tennis racket if you like. The point is that exercise of some kind can lead to a boost in creativity.
Studies have shown that exercise can improve our ability to think creatively. Divergent thinking, in particular—that is, thinking of more possibilities for a certain set of circumstances—was improved by exercise in a study where half the participants exercised before completing a creative-thinking task.
5. A PAIR OF HEADPHONES TO CREATE AMBIENT NOISE FOR CONCENTRATION
Whether you’re working in an office, a coffee shop, or your living room, a pair of headphones can be handy when you’re trying to access that oh-so-elusive state of mind. You won’t want to crank the volume up, though.
Research from the University of Chicago shows that ambient noise at a moderate level is the best sound environment for creative work. Although silence can be just what we need when we’re concentrating on a difficult task, ambient noise will get our creative juices flowing and open us up to new ideas.
While moderate noise levels do increase the effort required for us to process thoughts, this is beneficial because it promotes abstract processing, which increases our ability to come up with new ideas. Once the noise levels get too high, we lose this advantage to pure distraction as our brains get overwhelmed.
6. A COMFY CHAIR FOR BRIEF BUT INSPIRING NAPS
Here’s a fact about creativity that really surprised me: you may have some of your best ideas when you’re sleepy. You know that dozy feeling when you accidentally nod off and then shake yourself awake? That period of coming out of sleep is known as the hypnopompic state, and often happens as we come out of the dreaming stage of sleep, called REM.
The cool part of this is that you can bring on the hypnopompic state to help you access those crazy connections and scenarios that your subconscious throws into dreams. Salvador Dali even did this to help him generate creative ideas for his paintings.
A chair works best for this, and you’ll need a plate and spoon handy. Sit in the chair, and rest your arm over the side, holding the spoon. Put the plate on the floor under the spoon and let yourself drift off for a nap. As you fall asleep, you’ll drop the spoon onto the plate, making a noise to wake you up. If all goes well, you’ll have the lingering images from the start of your dream state to help you conjure up new ideas.
This one may take some practice to get right—I haven’t quite perfected it yet.
What other tools do you use in your creative work that everyone should have?