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.