Check out this week’s link round-up! Covering everything from writing tools, dialogue, first drafts, and scene and story structure.
One of the most valuable tools I’ve found since I started taking my writing seriously is my writing journal.
This notebook, is where I detail every idea I have. Some I end up using, some I don’t, but the journal helps me sort them out and keep them organized.
I write out my fears, my worries, my dead ends, and all the difficulties I face trying to piece a story together from beginning to end.
I kinda want to frame this and put it on my desk.
How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read by Pierre Bayard - Not reading is our main way of relating to most literature, find out how to make the most of your ignorance.
Tense Present by David Foster Wallace - In one of his finest essays, DFW reviews a dictionary of English usage, thereby tackling everything from democracy and free will to racism in academia.
The Rise of the Essay by Zadie Smith - Why do novelists write essays? And what excatly is an essay these days?
Words by Tony Judt - One of the very best essayists refelcts on his relationship with words.
The Birth of ‘The New Journalism’ by Tom Wolfe - Who put the ‘I’ in journalism? Tom Wolfe seems to think it was him and his friends.
Own Your Own Words by Steven Johnson - The ubiquity of Google has made it easy to gain control of a word or phrase, what effect is this new power having?
A Linguistic Big Bang by Lawrence Osborne - “For the first time in history, scholars are witnessing the birth of a language, a complex sign system being created by deaf children in Nicaragua.”
Cyber-Neologoliferation by James Gleick - A guided tour through the strange world of the lexicographer.
The Language of the Future by Henry Hitchings - A fascinating look at how English is mutating as it becomes the world’s lingua franca.
Printed Words, Computers, and Democratic Societies by Irving Louis Horowitz - This essay from 1983 looks forward to the advent home copmuting and the “videotext revolution.”
Happy Pi Day.
You can’t wait to write until you’re in the mood. My God, if you waited until you were in the mood, it would take forever. You have to sit down. The name of the game is to put it in the chair.
Just putting this out there for those who may have missed it.
Good.is reports in Rochester, New York, a 13-year-old girl wrote a comparative essay based on The Narrative Life of Frederick Douglass for a contest in her 8th grade class. In it, she reflected on the words of Douglass’ master after discovering the master’s wife had been teaching Douglas to read: “there will be no keeping him,” said Douglas’ master. “It will forever unfit him to be a slave. He would at once become unmanageable, and of no value to his master.”
This little girl has some big insight when she drew the connection that her public school seems to be failing students by design, with only 19% of her classmates are proficient in language arts, and only 13% are so in mathematics. The student complained that the teachers simply hand out pamphlets and packets and expect the students to learn, but that approach clearly isn’t working.
The young girl wrote that her teachers are in a “position of power to dictate what I can, cannot, and will learn, only desiring that I may get bored because of the inconsistency and the mismanagement of the classroom.”
She concludes that her position is analogous to that of Douglass, “just different people, different era.”
According to the Fredrick Douglass Foundation of New York, “the schools’ teachers and administrators were so offended by Williams’ essay that they began a campaign of harassment—kicking her out of class and trying to suspend her—that ultimately forced her parents to withdraw her from the school.”
The Frederick Douglass Foundation has given her an award for her controversial essay, but the parents of the bright young student are still forced to fund the continued operations of the school which is failing her former classmates and attempted to punish this girl for speaking truth to power.