10 Books Project: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers

So I’ve mentioned before that in my quest to read and analyze 10 popular books on creative writing to see how/whether they talk about the role of research in the creative process, not every book is a good candidate, but I’m being a completist about it anyway because you never know.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & Dave King is the ninth book on the list. Below are some thoughts.

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What #OwnVoices tells us about the importance of research to the creative process

Image by tookapic from Pixabay

I first learned about the #OwnVoices movement in young adult literature earlier this year when Amelie Wen Zhao made headlines by pulling her work from publication due to criticism of “problematic content.” The movement made headlines again a few months later when Kosoko Jackson, a vocal member of the movement, was forced to pull his own book for similar reasons. Since then, there have been several thinkpieces about the movement and the motivations of the people behind it, including questions of whether what they’re doing constitutes censorship when it leads to books being pulled from publication.

As I understand it, what the #OwnVoices movement is demanding is that stories about marginalized groups should only be told about members of those marginalized groups. This seems to be a reaction to the fact that, historically speaking, books about marginalized groups tend to be written by privileged white people. At least, the ones that get published and get awards. The stance of the #OwnVoices people is that these stories should only be told in the voices of those who have actually experienced marginalization.

I am not particularly comfortable with what the #OwnVoices movement does or how it does it or cancel culture in general. But it seems to me that the movement was born of a legitimate grievance and one that points to just how problematic the myth of the artist as an inspired genius can be.(1)

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Studies of Research: “I’d Say It’s Good Progress”

Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

I spent some time recently answering some of the questions that came up about my presentation at the ACRL 2019 Conference in Cleveland way back in…wow, April. Now that all of that is done, I want to change the focus a little to other presentations and papers that came from that conference. Specifically, ones that focus on the study of research.

I’ve mentioned before that one of the cool things about the study of research is that it’s already out there, in so many forms and in so many fields (not just library and information science!), even if that’s not what the researchers doing this work would necessarily call it. I saw a lot of examples in the ACRL Conference program and I hope the researchers whose work I plan to talk about for this series don’t mind that I’ll be applying that label to what they do, but in each case I’ll try to make it clear why I’m doing that.

So let’s take a closer look at “I’d Say It’s Good Progress: An Ecological Momentary Assessment of Student Research Habits” by Emily Crist, Sean Leahy, and Alan Carbery.

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Hedwig and the Angry Inch is secretly about the ethical use of information

Image source: Wikipedia

One of my favorite pieces of scholarly literature in the library and information science field is an article by Emily Dill and Karen L. Janke called “New Shit Has Come to Light: Information Seeking Behavior in The Big Lebowski.” It is exactly what it sounds like: a study of the information-seeking strategies of the characters in The Big Lebowski.

I think of this article every time I watch Hedwig and the Angry Inch because every time I watch Hedwig, all I can think about is how, underneath all of its other themes, it is, at its core, a lesson about the ethical use of information.

Let me explain.

(The following includes spoilers for Hedwig and the Angry Inch, both the movie and the play.)

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10 Books Project: Thoughts on Zen in the Art of Writing

Image by Gerhard Bögner from Pixabay

So if I’m being honest, I had never heard of Zen in the Art of Writing or any of the essays in it before encountering it on the list I’m using for my project. It wasn’t the only book on the list I wasn’t familiar with but it was the only one by Ray freakin’ Bradbury.

I tend to think of Ray Bradbury’s work as Required Reading, like the kind of thing that’s liable to show up on a high school summer reading list or maybe a college course syllabus. Which is ironic, considering how in at least one of the essays here Bradbury goes on and on about how teachers and librarians don’t appreciate the value of genre fiction like the stuff he writes.

So. Hmm.

Anyway, in reading this book, I had a couple of takeaways, some of which are related to my research project and some aren’t.

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Using the annotated bibliography as the “establishing shot”

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Lately I’ve been reading some scholarly literature from the writing studies field for a project I’m working on. I’m always fascinated by the parallels I see between how writing studies practitioners/scholars and information literacy practitioners/scholars talk about what they do and the challenges they face. I really think we need a space for practitioners and scholars in these two fields to talk to each other about their work.

Anyway, I found what I think could be an interesting new parallel in the article Documenting and Discovering Learning: Reimagining the Work of the Literacy Narrative by Julie Lindquist and Bump Halbritter.

This article has me thinking: what if the research we ask students to do in information literacy classes came at the beginning of the course instead of at the end? What if we used it as an “establishing shot”?

Let me explain.

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Thoughts on the Leadership Institute for Academic Library Managers at Siena College

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Leadership Institute for Academic Library Managers at Siena College, featuring sessions on emotional intelligence, strategic thinking, communicating effectively, leading change, leadership style, and developing teams taught by Paul Thurston, David Liebschutz, Melinda Costello, and Erik Eddy. I found this to be an incredibly valuable experience where I learned far more than I have space for here. But I wanted to at least reflect on a few key points, things that I learned not only about leadership but also about myself.

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