Wanted to post something inspirational today, and this 2008 TEDTalk from novelist Amy Tan is a perfect way to reflect on the evolution of the writing process and on the personal meanings of creativity.
SO FREAKING EXCITED ABOUT THIS. Roxane Gay and Ta-Nehisi Coates are pairing up to write a new series for Marvel: "Black Panther: World of Wakanda"!!
I've been a fan of Roxane's lyrical, gorgeous work since The Butter, so I am THRILLED to see her branch out into comics.
World of Wakanda will chronicle T'Challa's struggle to bring order to Wakanda in the wake of civil war, and will also center on two members of the Dora Millaje, Ayo and Aneka. It will also provide more insight into the women of Wakanda.
According to the interview, they've got some awesome writers and artists lined up, as well:
...Alitha Martinez will be drawing Roxane’s story, and Afua Richardson will be providing the covers. Additionally, there'll be a backup story in #1 that Ta-Nehisi is co-writing with Yona Harvey, and Afua will be drawing that.
Cannot wait to get my hands on this series and see where their new story takes us! Congrats, Roxane!
Guest editor Natalie Diaz has a gorgeous interview with Blackfeet writer Stephen Graham Jones up over at PEN America. They talk obsessions, linguistics, writing process, and more. But I think this quote is my absolute favorite:
While the notion of the public intellectual has fallen out of fashion, do you believe writers have a collective purpose? To say the truth, or something in the arena of the true. Something that feels true. To carve down to what’s real, and then fold the reader into that spot for a couple hundred pages. To write for the people of today, not the ones who aren’t born yet, and not the ones from generations ago, who can no longer be impressed with your talent. To—to be one of the ones Plato would have kicked out of his republic, because we won’t shut up, because we won’t stop stirring things up, because we insist on rousing emotions and thoughts in people that are inconvenient for those in power. And to do all this without seeming to be trying to do all this. Mostly, if we have a collective purpose, it’s to dream on the page, such that others might subscribe not so much to that particular dream, but just to dreaming in general. To asking What if? That’s the most dangerous question. The most necessary question.
Last night, I couldn't sleep because I had a story creeping into my head. Let's hope we can all hit the page running today.
Image credit: PEN America
This beautiful article about an heirloom wheel of cheese - frozen and kept fresh by a New York family since the 1940s! - reminds me of the tiny morsel of fruitcake my mother still keeps in her fridge; has kept safe in her fridge for over twenty years.
That little sliver, which gets smaller and smaller every year, is taken from one of the last fruitcakes my grandmother used to make and serve at Christmas. Spiced with blackberry rum (a special, holiday-only treat) and filled with candied fruits and other spices, she would prepare it around Thanksgiving, and then leave the cake to "season," wrapped safely in cheesecloth, until Christmas.
Describing the little intricacies of meals or food is such a visceral part of my writing. It's one of my favorite ways to get into characters' heads. I hope you have the same kind of luck with your stories. Imagine the kind of food or drink that would spark a new experience for them, and for your work as a whole.
Image Credit: The New York Times
I love, love, love behind the scenes looks into the processes of different writers, so this recent LitHub interview detailing Annie Proulx's method and overall career is fascinating.
Right now, I'm waiting for a word processor update to download so I can get back to writing. Hope you guys are having better luck with your work today.
Victoria Schwab, on the heels of her first #1 NYT debut The Savage Song, has a great post on her blog about how failure and success throughout her writing career, and how the big successes don't happen overnight -- even when they seem instant to your readers.
Her post reminds me of what my friend Aaron used to say about writing: basically, that "you have to write a million words of crap in order to start getting good."
So, fellow authors and writers, let's keep plugging away toward those million words!
Ben H. Winters on African-American Mystery Writers You Should Read
Great interview with Louise Erdrich from The Paris Review:
There’s something very wrong in our country—and not just in the book business. We now see what barely fettered capitalism looks like. We are killing the small and the intimate. We all feel it and we don’t know quite why everything is beginning to look the same. The central cores of large cities can still sustain interesting places. But all across our country we are intent on developing chain after chain with no character and employees who work for barely livable wages. We are losing our individuality. Killing the soul of our landscape. Yet we’re supposed to be the most individualistic of countries. I feel the sadness of it every time I go through cities like Fargo and Minneapolis and walk the wonderful old Main Streets and then go out to the edges and wander through acres of concrete boxes. Our country is starting to look like Legoland.
Another installment of the Poetry Project for your Monday! Kay Ryan lives in Fairfax, California, and teaches at the College of Martin.
Who, who had only seen wings,
could extrapolate the
skinny sticks of things
birds use for land,
the backward way they bend,
the silly way they stand?
And who, only studying
birdtracks in the sand,
could think those little forks
had decamped on the wind?
So many paired things seem odd.
Who ever would have dreamed
the broad winged raven of despair
would quit the air and go
bandylegged upon the ground,
a common crow?
Because I always love having something thoughtful to read, I'm starting a new weekly post series where I post a different short poem every Monday (not mine, just some old favorites.) Whether you want to discuss the poem of the week, meditate on it privately, or file it away for your idea notebook, I hope you get something out of it!
Today's poem is from contemporary poet Li-Young Lee.
Look at the birds. Even flying
out of nothing. The first sky
is inside you, open
at either end of day.
The work of wings
was always freedom, fastening
one heart to every fallen thing.