By Leslie Lindsay
A curated newsletter on the literary life, featuring ‘4 questions,’ reading & listening recommendations, where to submit, more
Leslie Lindsay|Always with a Book
~MUSINGS & MEANDERINGS~
When I was a kid, someone–a teacher or maybe a parent–told me writing was an art. I didn’t believe it. To me, Art was something you could see or hold in your hand. It was often beautiful and colorful and most of all, something you created.
Writing, in my eyes, was a more cerebral pursuit; it wasn’t Art.
Turns out, they were right. Writing IS Art.
Let’s break down those elements:
How words are merged, which ones are used…there’s a melodious quality there. That makes writing beautiful.
You can also ‘see’ writing.
My grandparents used to say about the stories I wrote, “You can paint a picture with words.” I had forgotten about their comments. But yes–what is reading but hallucinating images an author has created?
And yes–you can absolutely hold writing in your hand. Books are very portable that way.
Books are Art. Writing is Art. You are a Creator.
What about fiction, then? Some claim fiction is ‘a waste;’ there’s no value. I happen to disagree, for a multitude of reasons, which I won’t go into, but I did pull up this definition from Goodreads:
“Fiction is the telling of stories which are not real. More specifically, fiction is an imaginative form of narrative, one of the four basic rhetorical modes. Although the word fiction is derived from the Latin fingo, fingere, finxi, fictum, “to form, create”, works of fiction need not be entirely imaginary and may include real people, places, and events. Fiction may be either written or oral. Although not all fiction is necessarily artistic, fiction is largely perceived as a form of art or entertainment. The ability to create fiction and other artistic works is considered to be a fundamental aspect of human culture, one of the defining characteristics of humanity.”
~Leslie : )
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You are reading Musings & Meanderings, a consistently inconsistent weekly newsletter about the literary life from Leslie Lindsay, author of award-winning Speaking of Apraxia (Woodbine House, 2020 and PRH audio 2021) and home of an archive of bestselling and debut author interviews.
What I’m Distracted By
- This book, which just released in early July. The title alone stirs me. But this endorsement circles back to the idea of ‘fiction,’ discussed earlier:
“A knockout short story collection…Each one of these 10 dizzyingly immersive stories offers up a heady and visceral portrait of what ails us, from isolation and self-doubt, to unrequited love and regret over what might have been, to what it means to be (and to be considered) an American.”
— San Francisco Chronicle
- Where to go for a December vacation. I’m feeling the tropics…and of course, I’ll pack a book. Or four.
- This 1976 New York Times piece by Joan Didion on writing.
“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.”
- This course from DailyOM, about clearing the emotional clutter. I’m not taking it myself (I should!), but the ideas here really peak my interest. August will soon give way to September, a natural time to shift routines. Inertia can hold us back (‘this is the way I’ve always done it,’) but being mindful can create flow and space.
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NEW! Four Questions: A mini-interview series
- Without responding in complete sentences, what would you say THE BOYS is about?
Loneliness, the yearning for connection, and connections lost and found.
2. Where did you write THE BOYS? Do you have any special writing routines or rituals? Do they change with each project, or remain constant over time?
I do my best focused writing when I remove myself physically from my house and pile everything into the car, drive somewhere, and stay there for at least a week. For the writing itself, I’ve got many routines, most taken from my life as a reporter. I make myself write in stretches of 30-45 minutes, uninterrupted, as if on a daily newspaper deadline. I set a timer. If I’m stuck, and find myself lapsing into cliches, I don’t beat myself up about that; I just put [[FSB*]] next to the cliché and plow ahead.
*Find Something Better
“There’s a lot to love in this book—every corner of it is filled with clever invention and loopy charm of the Kevin Wilson variety, and suspense is created by a growing pile of unanswered questions that will keep you flying through it to the end.” —Kirkus
3. If you weren’t writing, you would be…
Outside. Doing anything outside.
4. What book did you recently read that you can’t stop thinking about?
The Dutch House. I adore Ann Patchett and I listened to Tom Hanks read it. Truly wonderful.
A piece in the nostalgia dossier of Levitate Magazine, about my childhood interest in a (vintage) kid’s rooms and spaces book.
Another about being a book ambassador, reading about family, inheritance, postmemory, and landscape in Moms Don’t Have Time to Write.
A a hybrid flash non-fiction piece about the mysteries of ancestry in ELJ Editions Scissors & Spackle.
A conversation with Dr. Sabine Hossenfelder about her forthcoming book, Existential Physics (Viking, August 9, 2022) in Hippocampus Magazine.
A conversation with Carla Zaccagnini about her book, Cuentos de Cuentas (Amant/Verlag, spring 2022) in The Millions.
An interview with Kristin Keane, author of An Encyclopedia of Bending Time (Barrelhouse Books, April 2022) in The Florida Review/Aquifer.
I’ll be sharing my published interviews here, on Wednesdays, after they’ve ‘gone live’ with their various publications. On Fridays, I’ll share any recent published fiction in this space as well.
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What I’m reading:
T. Greenwood’s forthcoming novel, Such a Pretty Girl (Kensington, October 25 2022), set alternatively in 1976-77 and 2019 about a child model, privacy, and mother-daughter relationships. I’m loving the 70s vibe here–so strong you can smell the LipSmackers and Aquanet.
Before that, I devoured Ruth Ozeki’s The Book of Form & Emptiness (Viking, September 2021), which is about all kinds of things, but primarily a mother-son duo wrecked with grief from the loss of husband/father, the importance of books, Zen Buddhism, and more. A beautiful, thought-provoking read I’m recommending to everyone.
Browse all of my books with a mental health/illness element on Bookshop.org
What I’m listening to:
The sound of water. Streams, waterfalls…faucets…
You are reading Musings & Meanderings, a consistently inconsistent weekly newsletter about the literary life from Leslie Lindsay, and home of an archive of bestselling and debut author interviews. I’m also on twitter and instagram. I try to answer comments as best I can. Feel free to find my book suggestions on bookshop.org, and also check out the authors I’ve hosted in in-depth interviews HERE.
In the meantime, catch me on:
Reviewing books and talking about them with others on-line and in-person is one small way to engage with & support the literary community.
Thank you for letting me guide you on your bookish journey.
Let’s walk this bookish path together.
Some of you have been reading my reviews, interviews, and meanderings for more than a decade now. That’s huge and I am so humbled. Thanks for being here.
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