Converting Non-Readers, by an Ex-Non-Reader

So, I was a guest writer for ReadLearnWrite. Thanks to Mr. Brandon Monk for having me. My post just went up today. It’s about my childhood as a very dedicated non-reader (which may seem surprising?) and growing up in a household without books and how things have changed since then. It also goes into how I try to foist books on people now on a regular basis (including little anecdotes about these attempts with my family).

I’ve also sent out some writing to journals, as well as a national poetry contest. I’m getting a bit crazy I think. I have to start somewhere though, I suppose – may as well be that! If I don’t win, I’ll just quit writing forever. No big deal.

I think I handle rejection pretty well, if you ask me. If you really want to know my secret: I’ve been prepping myself with this special rejection generator.

Carousel #4

  1. I came across the story of Joyce Carol Vincent, a 38-year-old woman from London who died alone at home and whose skeleton wasn’t discovered until three years later. It’s horrible to think how this could possibly happen, and probably happens a lot more than we think. I think the most awful part for me is the fact that she was wrapping Christmas gifts when she died – it’s clear that she cared for some people in her life enough and thought they cared for her, but  how mistaken she was in the latter.
  2. An online acquaintance of mine, Swankivy, made a video about frequent grammatical mistakes sometimes even writers and well-read people can make. Check it out – you may be surprised by what you didn’t know.
  3. I discovered the fantastic slice-of-life full-color comics of Melinda Boyce. So lovely and charming. She first drew my attention when she did a drawing of Anaïs. She also has a Kickstarter project where you can get copies of her comics.
  4. Aubrey Plaza, an actress several friends of mine have fallen in love with, is now working on a young adult novel. My sister and I only really know her as Julie from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. I wonder if her characteristic snarkiness will be a part of that high school experience she describes. I know it was a part of mine!
  5. Writer Edan Lepucki is starting a new column for The Millions in which she will be answering letters from writers. She’s asking people to send in questions. Seems pretty useful!
  6. Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison spoke about how her life isn’t interesting enough for a memoir. Kind of shocked, since I’m sure anything she writes would be worth reading, regardless. Always inspiring.
  7. I came across this article on how people’s brains are stimulated by reading good fiction. Among the observations made are: how reading affects multiple, critical areas of the brain, how vivid imagery and metaphors stimulate the sensory cortexes (and not cliches), and how reading novels is an excellent way to improve one’s empathy and understanding of the world. I’m not entirely surprised by any of these results, but it’s always nice to have scientific evidence for support.

Carousel #3

I don’t have much to post here this week because I’ve been busy working on writing things and spending less time just scouring the internet. Hopefully I’ll have things to post about my writing soon. Anyway, enjoy!

  1. I stumbled across the artwork of Baran Sarigul. Love when metaphors and symbols become real and lush like this. Particularly here and here.
  2. Writer Jonathan Franzen has notorious unpopular opinions and one of these is being stubbornly opposed to all forms of social networking. The thing is, he’s already a well-known writer and he doesn’t even know (or has to know) a thing about it. Roxane Gay wrote this excellent post that pretty much encapsulates my opinions as well.
  3. Infamous Latina writer Isabel Allende visited my alma mater and discussed her books, the writing process, language, her family, her idea of being a stranger in a strange culture, and feminism. Charming and outright hilarious woman.
  4. My friend Nikki recently discovered the website Least Helpful, which seeks out the internet’s least helpful (and most hilarious) product reviews. Just take a glance at those reviews of Animal Farm. Do people like this actually exist on this planet?
  5. Here is a short list of recommended books for teenagers who want to be better writers. I’ve only read His Dark Materials, but this seems like a pretty decent list (The Shadow of the Wind is sitting on my bookshelf though!).

Carousel #1

So I’ve decided to introduce a new feature to this blog: carousels.

Essentially, this is where I send you on a trip around the internet. Special places that helped define my week, highlights that include fascinating things to read, look at, listen to, watch. Things to inspire and thoughts to turn over. Enjoy!

  1. I watched my first Jean-Luc Godard film, Masculin, Féminin. I’m still uncertain how I feel about it, but I liked just being able to sit down and listen to all the conversations taking place. You can watch the whole thing on Youtube, and it has English subtitles.
  2. A strange short story: The Fisherwoman’s Daughter.
  3. A short poem by Allison Titus: Inclement.
  4. I really wish Maurice Sendak were my grandfather so we could be bitter curmudgeons together. Here’s a video on his work, childhood, and inspirations.
  5. More poems to look at that left an impression: Flowers in Stone, Gender Studies, Advice for the Manic / Instructions for Grieving. You can also listen to some of the authors read their works.
  6. Watching this music video by Gotye should be used to gauge humanity. If you cry, congratulations! You’re not a robot. Not that there’s anything wrong with robots, of course.
  7. I started reading Zazen by Vanessa Veselka, which I’ve been seeing everywhere around the internet. From the reviews, it seems to be pretty difficult to define. You can read it in its entirety on Red Lemonade.
  8. I read The Depressed Person, a genius essay by David Foster Wallace, which is so powerful and convincing that it literally caused me to have a physical feeling of revulsion.

(If you ever wish to include anything in these lists – anything of yours, or otherwise – feel free to write to me and let me know.)

Black Sheep

My sister hasn’t read much of my writing, but she does seem to like to ask me how much is about her. She laughs and calls herself my biggest inspiration. I’ve told her how I’ve written about her before, sure, but she likes to annoy me about it every once in a while anyway. She’s a person who reminds you again and again that she’s there and won’t be leaving very soon.

Last night, when we were going for a walk, my mom turned to us and remarked how we were the artists of the family. Where did we come from? I asked. She doesn’t know, she said. But there you have it. Paula has always been about the visuals and the aesthetics, and I’ve always been about the fantasies and the theories. Paula likes fashion and design, shininess and volume and bright colors, drawing and painting and photography and the process of capturing nature. I’m into books and fictional characters, subtlety and softness and sepia understatedness, ideas and alternate realities and mixing up fabrications in hopes of maybe going beyond just the plain truth. We are quite different in what we make and how we do it, and we are quite different in spirit.

But there’s still a kindredness. Sometimes, we make things together anyway and collaborate. Sometimes I do write things about people like her. Right now, I’m working on a poem and a short story about a sister who likes shiny things too, and her name is Raven. Glitter boots and feather boas and cupcakes with silver sprinkles.

Sometimes she draws things from books that I’ve read, like this:

And books that she’s read: