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Showing posts from April, 2014

On Choices (or, Why I Don't Have a Six Pack)

Recently, a friend posted a "fitspiration" meme that got my hackles up a little. 

This is it:


Now, I don't see anything inherently wrong in that sentiment--a person who trains his or her body is showing dedication, patience, persistence, and a host of other positive traits that have nothing to do with the end result of "attractiveness."

However.

You know what else takes dedication, patience, persistence, and a host of other positive traits?

Writing a book.

Writing several.

Pursuing publication.

And here's the rub--doing so has left me with less time to pursue other ends.  Like working out.  Before I had a child, I did work out multiple times a week, hard.  I did cardio.  I went to a gym.  I had a dedicated schedule and recognized the other people who had the same schedule I did.

Now I have a choice.  I work, have a child, have a house, and writing is important to me.  Here's the truth, in a nutshell--you can't actually do it ALL.  You can do most o…

Friday Reads: History of the World in Six Glasses

Genre: Nonfiction

By: Tom Standage

What's it about?  How six beverages, still popular today, influenced and shaped world history and culture

Why did I pick it? It was a gift.  And honestly--I typically skip "pop history" like this because it's forced into the kinds of generalizations that can make a historian twitch.  However, had I picked it up on my own, I would have found the delivery enjoyable and thought-provoking anyway.

Who will like it?  Hardcore historians may find the treatment too surfacey, but those with an interest in broader historical topics, the history of their favorite beverage (like where, exactly, did beer come from?  Did you know it used to be drunk from straws?), and the interplay of what we eat and drink with social customs will be drawn to the book. 

Judging a book by its cover: Can you for this book?  The multiple covers of this book all show what the book tells about--six glasses of well-loved beverages.

Revising Out Damn Good Writing

One of my tutoring students wrote an amazing paragraph.  She was writing a comp paper analyzing a short story, and pointed out a really brilliant interpretation of one section.  It was well-written and insightful.

The trouble was, it didn't fit in her paper.  At all.  She was writing a paper analyzing symbolism with a strong thesis to match, and this piece, while very interesting, was a complete non sequitor.  It was a blaring interuption in the middle of a well-organized paper.

So we put it on the "back burner" which is my shorthand for telling students, "You don't have to throw it out right now, but if you can't find a way to make it work, it will be easy to know what section needs to go."

Just because something is good doesn't mean it belongs.

It's another angle on "kill your darlings."  I think we sometimes fail to acknowledge that those darlings are not only bits that we like, but are often objecively good.  Damn good.  Well-writte…

Friday Reads: The Story Collector

Genre: Short story...ish.

By: Susan Price

What's it about?  An eccentric, wealthy, aging man decides to collect stories from his servants and their network of lower-class friends.

Why did I pick it? There are certain books from my childhood I remember, vividly, adoring.  Susan Price's Ghost Drum is one of those books, so, in this magical world of e-readers, I decided to see what she's been up to in recent years.

Who will like it?  If you enjoy swapping tales with friends, or listening to storytellers, or telling ghost stories around a campfire, the style and delivery of The Story Collecter may interest you.  There are also elements of various folk and fairy tales woven into the stories, so folk tale enthusiasts will enjoy chasing the trails of stories they recognize.

Judging a book by its cover: Can you for this book?  The silhouette art motif draws together the many storytellers "collected" in the book, and pays homage to the silhouette portrait art popular at the hi…

Why Would a Grown-Up Read Young Adult?

There are two kinds of grown-up readers in the world.  Grown-ups who enjoy young adult fiction and grown-ups who deride young adult fiction.

Maybe I'm exaggerating.  But I've never met someone my own age or older who didn't either admit, maybe a little sheepishly, "Yeah, I'm reading that Marie Lu Legend trilogy...and I like it a lot" or state adamantly, "I don't get why grown people read kid books." No one seems to be on the fence, unopinionated, just kind of meh on young adult lit.

I'm not saying grown-ups have to like young adult books.  Not at all.  To say that would imply that everyone should like everything, and we all know that's not a realistic outlook.  I don't care for romance novels.  There, I've said it.  I'm not big on most epic fantasy.  Don't make me read Dickens, because you know what? His novels make me roll my eyes.  (Now, his short fiction, on the other hand...but I digress). 

But I'm not going say…