Some bite-sized thoughts and reflections on the items I’ve been reading, listening to, or watching this month.
Also: Did you read, watch, listen to, play something this month that you particularly enjoyed? Feel free to share in the comments! I’m always looking for recommendations.
Note: The following contains spoilers for Slenderman (book by Kathleen Hale), Bad Sisters (TV series on Apple TV+), Good Luck to You, Leo Grande (movie on Hulu), It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (…if you can speak of spoiling that show), and Shipwreck Hunters Australia (TV series on Disney Plus)
At the beginning of the summer, I wrote a post about the summer projects I was looking forward to and the goals I was hoping to meet during a time of year that is theoretically more quiet than the fall and spring but tends to fill up with other stuff anyway. Turns out my summer didn’t fill up with a bunch of extra stuff (though there was definitely some of that) so much as time just seemed to slip away. Still, I feel like I was able to make some pretty good progress on the projects I set for myself. I wish I could have done more or done what I did better, but I’m not unhappy with where I’ve ended up.
Are you a creative writer (published or unpublished) who writes about the role of research in your creative work? If so, I’d be interested in linking to anything you might have written on this topic or even featuring a guest post by you about it.
If you think you might be interested or have something you’d like to share, use the contact form to reach out at any time. I’d love to hear from you and I’m happy to answer any questions.
I’m on vacation this week so I won’t be posting any new content, but below is a list of some favorite posts from this year so far in case you’d like to check out any you might have missed. Enjoy and see you in a few weeks!
Last week, I wrote a post on the five(ish) writing books that have resonated with me most as a creative writer in the course of my investigation into creative research. As I said in that post, most writing books are basically the same in terms of the advice they have to give. The differences are more in the author’s style and their approach to sharing that advice.
If you’re someone who only picks up a book about writing now and then, this is good news because it means you can never really go wrong with your choice. But if you’re someone like me who’s going to read more than 50 of these things as part of your research study, reading the same thing over and over again gets a little old after a while.
Below are some of the pieces of advice I encountered over and over…and over and over again. These mostly pertain to fiction writing but there are a few that also came up in books on other genres as well.
In the course of my scholarly investigation into the role of research in creative writing, I’ve spent a lot of time reading books about writing. Like, a lot. About 30 such books made it into my final study, which will be published in portal later this year. I’ve since read 7 more to include in a follow-up that I’m hoping to publish somewhere in the writing studies field. And there are about 10 or so that I’ve read that weren’t included in either study because they didn’t meet the criteria. So, in all, I’ve read 45-50 books about writing. Most of them were specifically about fiction writing, but a few were more genre agnostic while some of the more recent ones are about poetry and nonfiction.
I’ve learned a lot about creative research from these books (at least, the ones that talk about it). But what I’ve really learned is that when it comes to books about writing, most of them are kind of basically the same. If you’re someone who’s going to read 50 of them like me, that’s bad news because you’re hearing a lot of the same advice over and over again. But if you’re only going to read one or two, that’s good news because it means you can’t really go wrong in your choices. The information you learn from one book will probably be basically the same as any other book, so it’s better to pick based on the author’s approach. For example, are you looking for a how-to or more of a literary analysis? Do you want a wide survey of all of the craft elements or a deep dive into one?
Below are the five writing books I read that happened to resonate the most with me as a creative writer. (In no particular order.)
Lately there’s been some pressure at my institution to stop doing things “just to do them.” In other words, as the focus shifts toward an emphasis on things like student recruitment and retention, you have to make a case for how the things you do contribute to those goals. If they don’t, the implication is that you shouldn’t be spending time on them.
I have a bit of a problem with the assumption implied in the idea of doing things “just to do them.” But I also acknowledge that I’ve had an unusual amount of autonomy in my work up to this point and that that autonomy has allowed me to work on a lot of enjoyable side projects like this one.
I started this blog in March of 2018 and have published at least once or twice a week since then. In that time, my readership (which I measure by the very basic stats provided by WordPress) has gone up from approximately three views a week to closer to 100. Maybe. On a good week.
The thing is, no one writes blogs anymore, unless that blog is attached to a larger publication. It’s quaint. It’s antiquated. Chuck Wendig, whose blog helped inspire this one, recently compared blogging to “putting your podcast on vinyl.”
No one writes blogs anymore. No one reads blogs anymore. Who has the time? And it’s unlikely to blogging like this contributes in any direct way to larger goals like recruitment and retention.
Warning: The following post contains some discussion of (fictional) suicide and related mental health issues. Read with care. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can offer immediate support or refer to these resources from the National Institute of Mental Health.