Friday Links: An Assortment of Building Blocks for Writers

TGIF! I hope you’ve all had a terrific week, and have some equally terrific plans lined up for your weekend. It’s the final weekend in February, so it might be a good time to take a quick peek at your goals for the last month and for the year and see how you’re doing so far. Are you on target? Are there some areas where you might do a little better? Set aside an hour or so to check in with yourself so that you can steer the ship back in the right direction if need be, or by all means treat yourself to a mini celebration if you’re ahead of you’re ahead of the game. But regardless of where you are, it’s important to do these small reviews periodically throughout the year so you won’t be facing big surprises come December.

But of course it wouldn’t be Friday without Friday Links. I have a great assortment for you this week and I hope you’re inspired to do some new writing or work on your current project as a result. Enjoy, and happy writing!

Comma Queen: “Awesome” Is the New “Massive” – A quick, fun video from The New Yorker‘s grammar guru.

An Unparalleled Influence: The Man Who Invented Fiction – The role of Cervantes and Don Quixote in bringing about the modern novel.

Simon & Schuster Creates Imprint for Muslim-Themed Children’s Books – This week’s announcement of Salaam Reads, a new imprint to be headed up by Executive Editor Zareen Jaffery.

Ancient History Resources – A collection of links to some wonderful research material.

The Architecture of Fantasy: How Authors Use Real Places to Build Imaginary Ones – Some helpful tips for world building.

Notes on Record-Keeping – A look at journaling as a means of keeping track of all the bits and pieces of your life and memories.

Why I Became a Travel Writer – On delving into a career that calls to you, despite the risks.

Friday Links

TGIF! The only problem with taking a vacation is coming home and needing to catch up with everything that happened while you were away. I’m still digging out from beneath my email-and-manuscript mountain, so I apologize for the state of quiet here this week, but I do have Friday Links, and with a little luck by next week it will be business as usual.

I feel like there’s been quite a bit of uproar in the publishing world the last couple of weeks, which is reflected in these links, but I did try to balance all the hoopla out with some other sorts of things. Regardless, I hope you find them interesting and entertaining. Wishing you a wonderful weekend, and some good writing/reading time. Enjoy!

Ursula LeGuin at 85 – A wonderful BBC Radio interview with the author.

The 2014 VIDA Count – A look at how many women’s voices made it into periodicals last year.

Why Keeping a Journal Is so Important for Writers and All Creative Types – An interesting look at how to use a journal for inspiration and to organize ideas.

The Hugo Awards Were Always Political. But Now They’re Only Political. – A look at the kerfuffle regarding this year’s Hugo nominations, with links to additional material.

145+ YA Books for your April – June 2015 Radar – A wonderful wrap up of new YA titles due out in the next few months.

Friday Links

Another Friday. I’m honestly not sure where the week went. But I do have a good collection of links to distract you today and through the weekend. A few in particular I’m hoping will inspire you to get some writing time in between your chores and barbecues and other weekend-ish activities. Enjoy, and happy writing!

Will Social Media Kill Writers’ Diaries? – An interesting question regarding the way tech has changed the writer’s habit of journaling and sending letters.

Mass-Market Marathon – This series at Slate follows one reader as he attempts to plow through a stack (23) of mass-market paperbacks during his week-long beach vacation. I’ll admit to envying him time for his experiment.

30 Indispensable Tips from Famous Authors – A fun collection with some excellent advice, as well as proof that sometimes it’s necessary to do what works for you.

Stephen King’s Family Business – A look at how many writers you can squeeze into one family.

Disneyland’s Steampunk Land that Almost Was – For you steampunk fans, a look back at plans for a Steampunk portion of Disneyland that never got off the ground. Includes great pictures of the original plans, etc.

Linkity Link

Greetings from beautiful Surrey, B.C., Canada. This is just a quick wave from the conference, as I have a full schedule ahead of me. But I promised some weekend reading, so here you go. Enjoy!

A good wrap up of the National Book Awards/Lauren Myracle Situation – courtesy of Publishers Weekly.

Julian Barnes Wins the Bookercourtesy of The Millions

Bram Stoker’s Notebooks Unearthed – A perfect follow up to my question about writers’ notebooks earlier this week.

On Reading North American Books in Cuba – Writer/translator Jose Manuel Prieto on the books he read while growing up in Cuba.

I Was No Longer Afraid to Die – A fabulous look at Joan Didion’s new memoir over at New York Books.

Keeping Notes

Lots of people keep notes, make lists, and otherwise track things they need to remember, whether they’re writers or not. But I’m most interested in how writers keep track of and organize their thoughts, because in addition to all those other things they need to recall — doctors’ appointments, play dates for the kids, due dates for work projects, dinner parties, shopping lists, birthdays, the annual flu shot, getting the gutters cleaned — writers have to keep track of their ideas.

There’s a myth that all writers keep a pen and paper on them wherever they go, be it a nice notebook and a pretty fountain pen or just some scrap paper and a stubby pencil, so when the muse strikes, they can jot down a few words or sentences to avoid forgetting what might be the germ of a poem or article or story. In reality, I know a lot of writers who do no such thing. You’d be amazed how often I attend a writers conference only to have someone borrow my penduring a pitch session so they can make a note of what I’ve asked them to send me.

credit: www.notebookstories.com

But many writers do have a system, generally some sort of small, portable notebook where they can accumulate bits and pieces over the course of their day, ideas or things they’ve seen or smidgens of dialogue that felt inspirational in the moment. I’ve heard of writers with notebooks for different purposes; one for actual writing of drafts, another for jotting ideas and notes, and separate notebooks to serve as story bibles for individual projects where all the details of the world are kept in one place.

In this electronic age, however, I see more and more writers who have gone digital. Notes are kept on tablets or laptops or even in smart phones. I acknowledge the convenience, but I can’t help but feel something is getting lost in the process this way. I like the idea of notes that include sketches or scribbled out bits, or of notebooks that have things slipped between their pages — maps or postcards or flyers from tourist spots. Yes, you can snap photos on your smart phone to serve as visual reminders of a particular landscape or site, but it’s not quite the same.

Charles Simic writes about his own adherence to the old fashioned way of tracking his day and his ideas for the New York Review of Books Blog. I love how for him the act of writing down his thoughts is partly about creating a lasting work, almost an art form in itself, that is in no danger of getting deleted or recycled when he upgrades his electronics. Of course, notebooks are not permanent in the sense that they can be damaged or lost, but these seem less of a danger.

How about you? Do you keep a notebook or journal of sorts, whether as a writer or just as an individual interested in keeping record of your life? What form do your ramblings and memories take? And do you ever go back through old writing to visit your past self?