Friday Links: Write What You Want to Know

Happy Friday, all! I hope everyone’s had a wonderful week and is ready to kick off a creative weekend, because I’m here to talk to you about research and inspiration. The old adage “Write what you know” has long been criticized as being too limiting, and in a sense it is. If writers only took on topics familiar to them, we would soon find ourselves with a rather narrow field of stories. So I propose a small tweak: Write What You Want to Know.

Writing is about inspiration, imagination, and research. Whether you need to fill in a few facts or thoroughly immerse yourself in an entirely new industry or location, you’re going to need to put in some time to make sure your story is accurate and believable. Even fantasy writers, who may seem to have permission to invent entire worlds purely out of their heads, are subject to the rigors of research, because those fantasy worlds come across much more believable if they have their roots in at least a small measure of reality.

So today’s links offer up a wealth of inspiration and topics that I hope will spark your interest, whether with a topic to research or some writerly advice that sends you off in a fresh direction. Open your eyes wide and let yourself absorb some amazing new things this weekend. Check out the links, but then go to the library and explore a section you haven’t read from or hit a local museum or art exhibit. Find a cultural celebration within driving distance and go try some interesting new-to-you foods and listen to music. And no, this isn’t an invitation to appropriate someone else’s culture; but open yourself up to all the different facets of our world and see what ideas you cultivate. At the very least, the people you write about will feel more real.

Photographs Document Early Chinese Immigration – An interesting collection from the Library of Congress.

Why I Founded an Interdisciplinary Retreat for Artists and Writers – A great argument for cross-pollination of creative ideas.

Discovering Literature: Shakespeare and the Renaissance Writers – A useful resource for historical projects.

Jeff VanderMeer & Cory Doctorow Discuss the Future of Sci-Fi & the World – A great conversation between two smart, interesting writers who contribute greatly to the current sff landscape.

Stephanie Powell Watts on Writing Hard Times in Small Towns – This perspective might be especially interesting for anyone from a densely populated area.

The Masks We Wear: The Millions Interviews Edan Lepucki – A discussion of Lepucki’s new book and character identity.

Women Were Pirates, Too – While the men got most of the press (for good or ill), there were a number of female pirates sailing the seas as well.

25 of Your Favorite Nonfiction Books about Women’s History – An intriguing list. No descriptions included, but many of the titles will draw you in even so.

Maurice Sendak on Art and Art-Making – Five years after his death, the author/illustrator’s words of wisdom still offer up some great advice.

Why I Read: Ursula K. LeGuin – HarperCollins pulled together a collection of authors’ responses to the simple question of why they read, and LeGuin’s answer feels like it works very well with the theme of today’s links.

Friday Links for the Holiday Weekend

No great words of wisdom this week. For those who celebrate, we’re at the end of Holy Week, today being Good Friday and Sunday being Easter. So here is a nice assortment of links for anyone who feels like checking them out. Whatever your beliefs, I wish you a wonderful weekend and a bit of whatever makes you smile, whether that’s writing time, a good book, family celebrations, or a bit of everything. Enjoy!

A Brief Literary History of Robots – Mostly because I couldn’t resist the first image, but also for the fun reading list.

George Saunders: What Writers Really Do When They Write – One writer’s take on process.

Don’t Be a Dick: Colum McCann’s Advice for Young Writers – Some great tips, delivered with humor.

Julie Ann Walker: “I’m a Feminist and I Write Romance” – A smart look at why these two things are not mutually exclusive.

NPR on Tumblr – Some great vintage images shared in honor of National Library Week.

Salinger’s Nightmare – An unemployed actor’s attempt to acquire permission to adapt The Catcher in the Rye.

Kurt Vonnegut’s Greatest Writing Advice – Tips that still shine, ten years after the author’s death.

Friday Links: Reading and Writing with a Broader World View

Happy Friday, everyone! This week I’m stepping back and taking a look at the larger scope of the world when it comes to writing and reading. How do recent events affect how we view the world, how we write our stories, how we consider our readers, and how we choose what to read ourselves? We can look back and see clearly how the prevalence of fantasy and darker paranormal seemed to grow up around harder economic times, and that the rise of dystopian literature appears to have been a precursor of the current political climate. So what happens now?

I’m not claiming to be drawing any conclusions with this week’s links, but many do play into this theme and I think it’s something to consider going forward. It’s early days yet, but I’m sure the writings of our time will reflect much of this current turmoil eventually, as well as whatever follows. Food for thought going into the weekend. I wish you lots of excellent time to read and to write, and  hopefully a bit of inspiration. Enjoy!

Fantasy Is about Power: An Interview with Lev Grossman – A talk with the author of The Magicians trilogy, about the books, and about the TV series based on them that just began its second season.

Translation — and Migration — Is the Lifeblood of Culture – A look at how the mix of ideas and cultures from different nations serves to influence and develop imagination everywhere.

On Dracula’s Lost Islandic Sister Text – On this mysterious, altered version of Stoker’s classic work.

“It’s Going to Be Darker. And that’s OK.” Neil Gaiman on Trump, Brexit, and the Death of Social Media – Gaiman discusses the new series based on American Gods and considers what it means to create art in troubled times.

50 Must-Visit Beautiful Bookstores on Six Continents – See the world, buy some books.

Waterstone’s, the UK’s National Bookstore, Came Back from Near-Death by Transforming into Indie, Local Stores – How the new mastermind behind the chain turned the tide, proving it’s still possible to get readers into bookstores.

What’s the Next Big Dystopian Novel? Margaret Atwood Has some Ideas – The author of The Handmaid’s Tale, which has gained new popularity between current politics and the series soon to debut on Hulu, talks dystopian literature and book trends.

How to Escape the Slush Pile: A Self-Editing Checklist for Short Story Writers – Excellent tips, some of which apply to any writing.

Friday Links: Reading and Writing for the Long Winter Haul

Happy Friday, all! Apparently the groundhog saw his shadow yesterday, so we’re looking at six more weeks of winter weather in the northern hemisphere. In homage to that fact, I’ve got a ton of book recommendation links for you all this week, so whatever it looks like outside your window, you have some good reading material to keep you company. I’ll admit I’m doing a lot of reading myself these days, both for work and for pleasure, because I am in need of a good distraction from the insanity of real life, and books have always been that for me.

Of course, I also have some writing opportunities lined up in the links, so do take a look and maybe find yourself a deadline or a new publication to add to your writing goals. It’s always good to stretch your skills; you never know when you might come up with your next brilliant idea. Wishing you all a wonderful, creative weekend. Happy writing!

9 Books by Black Authors You Need on your Black History Month Reading List – Some really great titles, old and newer, to add to your TBR if you haven’t gotten around to them yet.

25 Great Books by Refugees in America – Another timely list of wonderful titles, across a wide range of subjects and genres.

Opportunities for Writers: February and March 2017 – A list of upcoming deadlines for contests, fellowships, publications and so on.

Join the Book Riot February #Riotgrams Instagram Challenge – A fun boookish photo challenge for anyone on Instagram. It kicked off on Feb. 1st, but there’s plenty of time to play catch up as the rules are extremely flexible.

Eimear McBride Is Not Afraid of Cruelty – The author talks about her new book, her thoughts on long descriptions, and her approach to writing.

100 Must-Read Science Fiction and Fantasy Debuts – A huge collection of debut sff books both recent and classic. Fabulous reference for anyone looking to get a great overview of the genre.

17 Books to Read This February – Some great-sounding new releases due out this month that will help the short days and still-long nights fly by.

Friday Links: Send Your Writing into the World

Happy Friday, everyone! Juggling about twenty different things today, trying to get them handled before the weekend, so I’m just going to do a hit and run with this week’s Friday Links. I think it’s a pretty inspirational cross section, and I hope that at least one or two make you feel like getting down with your current work in progress, or maybe submitting something for publication. A number of these are geared toward getting that work out the door. Wishing you lots of excellent writing and reading time. Enjoy!

Short Story Challenge – A fun challenge  in three rounds run by NYC Midnight. The first round is coming up fast, so check it out now.

African Game of Thrones? Marlon James Is On It – An interview with the author about his upcoming fantasy series.

12 Contemporary Writers on How They Revise – Tips from a broad range of working writers.

Opportunities for Writers: January and February 2017 – A list of deadlines for submissions, contests, etc.

The British Books Challenge 2017 – A fun, low-volume book challenge for anyone looking to change things up a (little) bit.

Remembering Octavia Butler – An interview with Juno Diaz about the revered sf writer who passed away last year.

Friday Links: Inspiration to Get Your Writer Brain in Gear

Another Friday has arrived, and with it that sense that it’s time to get busy. The holidays are already in sight — if you judge by retailers, Halloween is moments away — and with them come all sorts of new distractions and obligations. So now is the time to set yourself in writing mode — whatever that means for your current project. Need to do some plotting? Have a list of research questions to tackle? Ready to pull something out of the drawer and get down to a serious edit? Or maybe you’ve been procrastinating getting those first sentences down on an empty first page. Whatever your goal, wherever you stand, it’s time to leap. Think how accomplished you will feel once you’ve made that next bit of progress.

This week’s links are rather a hodgepodge of different sorts of inspiration. Things to read, authors to admire, new ground to cover, and hints to help polish your work. In many ways, it’s my favorite sort of week because diverse links make for more connections with all of you, and also provide plenty of ways for you to stretch your writer brains. So take a look and see what strikes your fancy. Enjoy, and happy writing!

Planes Flying Over a Monster: The Writing Life in Mexico City – An armchair tour of the writing community in Mexico City.

6 Books that Get What It’s Like to Work Online – With more and more people working from home and using the internet as place of employment, these titles are relatable on many levels. Plus they’re just good reads.

Against Accessibility: On Robert Irwin, Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Imbolo Mbue’s “Behold the Dreamers” – A commentary on the somewhat narrow selection of modern African fiction available to Western readers.

How non-English speakers are taught this crazy English grammar rule you know but have never heard of – Fascinating look at this more intuitive aspect of English grammar structure.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Final Unpublished Collection Set for Spring 2017 Release – Yet another “lost” work by a revered writer.

Lisa Lucas Wants to Make Reading Fun Again – An interview with the new(ish) director of the National Book Foundation, in which she discusses her goals and her attitude toward reading.

100 African Writers of SFF: Part One, Nairobi – Not just a list of authors and/or books, but information about the country and profiles that include background, influences, etc.

The Writer’s Toolkit: 6 Steps to a Successful Writing Habit with Simon Van Booy – Information about the author’s new self-paced writing course available on Skillshare.com, for anyone who wants a little kick in the pants.

Friday Links: Facets of the Writing Life

TGIF! The weekend has arrived, and I hope it’s brought some time off for all of you to read, write, and sneak in a bit of relaxation. People seem to be anxious to acknowledge the end of summer, but officially we still have a few weeks to go, and even unofficially we have another week until the long Labor Day weekend. So I say make the most of it.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit this week of all the facets of the writer’s life. Even the act of writing itself varies enormously from person to person, by what they write, how often, level of commitment, etc. So it’s probably no surprise that several of this week’s links revolve around the lives of writers, including how they live, how they work, where they work, and so on. I think I’ve found a balance of serious, informational, and humorous, and there should be something here for everyone. Enjoy, and happy writing!

N.K. Jemisin on Diversity in Science Fiction and Inspiration from Dreams – Jemisin, the first black writer to win the Hugo Award for a Novel, talks about her experiences writing The Fifth Season and with the award process.

How Instagram Became the New Oprah’s Book Club – An interesting look at the social media platform’s role in book marketing.

Five Reasons Why Writers Should Move to Columbus – Ohio, that is. For writers whose pockets won’t stretch to New York or LA.

In Order to Live: Story Structure on the Horoscopic Scale – An intricate look at all the ways writers attack story structure.

Tin House Is Accepting Unsolicited Submissions for 2017 – Details on the latest open reading period for the literary magazine.

The Spoils of Destruction – The story of Thomas Mann’s Pacific Palisades house, and its current uncertain fate.

On the Barbizon Hotel, and the Women Writers Who Lived There – A look at the famous New York City hotel where young, single women stayed when they came to make their fortune in the big city.

Antarctic Artists & Writers Program – A program that enables writers and other artists to visit Antarctica for creative purposes.

Friday Links: Techniques and Toys for the Writer’s Toolbox

TGIF! Welcome to the end of yet another very weird week. My brain keeps turning over that old blessing/curse from Confucius: May you live in interesting times. For better or worse, I’d say recent weeks/months/years certainly count. But it’s Friday and I feel bruised and beaten up after a long few days of too much desk time, way too much coffee, and far too little sleep, so that’s about as much as I’m going to say on the social/political front today.

What I do have for you is a great collection of links for the week. Like last week, there’s a bit of a mishmash, but I feel many of them will help you load up your writer’s toolbox — both literally and figuratively — and to tackle your writing goals. But don’t worry, there’s plenty of reading goodness to distract you, too, if that’s where your mood is. Wishing you a wonderful weekend filled with all things word related. Enjoy!

The Mental Health Benefits of Writing, Backed by Science – In case you were worried that writing was driving you crazy.

Novels Bring World War II to Life for a New Generation – A look at the recent uptick in popularity of WWII-era novels for young adults.

Laptop Buying Guide for Writers – K. Tempest Bradford pulls together a few of her podcasts that talk laptop features and her recommendations specifically for writers.

Faerie-led: Thoughts on Writing Meaningful Fantasy – A thoughtful look at the genre.

Apple Begins Paying Out on Ebook Settlement – In case you haven’t heard, you might have some extra book money floating around.

Think You Couldn’t Possibly Lose Your Amazon Publishing Account? – Important read for self-pub/hybrid folks, but interesting for all.

A Map to Get Out of Writer’s Block – A very handy, helpful graphic, worth saving for future emergencies even if you always feel inspired and ready to write.

49 Underrated Books You Really Need to Read – Have read and loved a number of these, but better believe my TBR list just got longer.

New York Taught Me to Be a Better Listener – Interesting read. Note that this didn’t have to take place in New York, the author just happened to have her learning experience there.

Serial Reader app – Looking to squeeze some classics reading into your life? This free app sends you classics in short installments, a new 10-15 minutes’ worth of reading each day. Huge and growing collection of titles. So far just for iOS, but an Android version is in the works.

Friday Links: Emerging from the Writing Cave

Some weeks get away from us, one project or another eating all of our time to the point where, waking up on Friday feels akin to stepping off a roller coaster that left your knees a touch wobbly and the earth not quite solid beneath your feet. This can happen with any occupation or hobby, but for writers it might seem even more disorienting if they’ve spent that roller coaster ride involved with a fictional world. A number of this week’s links focus on the sorts of big projects that a person can sink into, emerging later with a fresh perspective. I hope they inspire you to delve deep with your own work in progress this weekend, or to lose yourself in a wonderful fat book. Happy writing!

Fast Draft Hell: 7 Lessons I Learned (Almost) Writing a Novel in 14 Days – An intriguing look at the experience of writing a really fast first draft.

12 Things I Noticed While Reading Every Short Story Published in 2014-15 – On patterns discovered and realizations made over the course of a major reading experience.

“A’ghailleann”: On Language-Learning and the Decolonisation of the Mind – Looking at the cultural significance of learning a colonized language.

The First Science Fiction Novel?: Kelly Link and John Crowley Discuss The Chemical Wedding – Regarding the project to bring out a new edition of the 17th century work.

If You Use This Font... – A fun graphic matching fonts with personalities.

Joe Hill Remembers Where He Came From (Part One) – An in-depth interview with the author. Second part linked from bottom of the first.

The Whole Spy’s Guide to the Internet: Untangling the Web – Trying to explain would just ruin this for you. Just read it. You’ll thank me.

Friday Links: Combatting Cabin Fever

Happy Friday, everyone! It’s been an insanely busy week here, so I apologize for being a bit quiet on the inter-webs. Sometimes you just have to put your head down and plow forward. And of course, with spring in full bloom here in the northern hemisphere, I’m aware that I, like everyone else, am struggling with a certain level of cabin fever. The birds are even now chirping outside my office window and it’s very tempting to just go play outside.

When I’m feeling this sort of pull, I resist it by reminding myself that the nice weather will still be there come the weekend… or whenever things quiet down to normal levels. Or I give myself lines in the sand; do everything on this list and then you can wander down the block to Starbucks for an hour of fresh air and caffeine injections. But it also helps to be engrossed in what I’m working on. The lure of a lovely day feels much less tempting if I’m reading a wonderful manuscript or helping make a project better. It’s all relative.

With this in mind, I’ve got a mishmash of links for you today that I hope help to combat your own cabin fever and allow you to put in a bit of reading and writing time. Plenty of things to think about and get you into gear. Enjoy!

Around the world in 18 science fiction and fantasy novels – A nice roundup for some serious armchair travel.

Interrogating Sentimentality with Leslie Jamison – On the line between writing that’s emotional and writing that’s overly sentimental or saccharine.

Download 67,000 Historic Maps – An open collection of high resolution maps available from Stanford University’s David Rumsey Map Collection. Great for research.

On the Heartbreaking Difficulty of Getting Rid of Books – Most of us know this problem. An interesting look at an author’s experience with trying to apply the Marie Kondo tidying method to her bookshelves, proving that not all systems work for all people — or at least not precisely as intended.

Whit Stillman Returns: “Sometimes it’s good to blow through all your deadlines.” – The director of Metropolitan tackles Jane Austen’s Love and Friendship.

Authors, Get Thee to Social Media: Explaining the Rise and Rise of YA Books – Intriguing article with some great points about social media (though this is obviously not the entire driving force behind the success of YA).

Knausgaard in Chicago: “I Don’t Want to Write about Myself Anymore.” – The author known for his mammoth multi-volume work of autobiographical fiction talks about literary ambition and success with Sheila Heti.