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~
How is your fall shaping up? Has it been a whirlwind? Utterly relaxed? Oh, I know…you’ve been twirling through the streets as fall leaves rain down, a book tucked under your arm, and a PSL in your hand, right? Completely and totally unencumbered, a little nostalgic and pensive, and productive, too, right?
Maybe not. I don’t what it is, but fall should be a slowing down, but sometimes isn’t. Not everyone gets the summer off or Summer Fridays or holidays of leisure. I enter fall eager for all the coziness, but I’m often exhausted.
Just being honest about that makes me feel better. And that’s why I write these words. Writing works that way for me. It’s a fabulous little tool to process.
And also, I write because I want YOU to write, too.
If I feel a little run-down and worn-out, maybe you do, too? So I thought I’d take this moment to check in.
How are your writing goals going?
Are you keeping a schedule? Staying on track? What are struggling with? Why? Is it lack of time or lack of ideas? Maybe lack of motivation? Have you spent any time reflecting on how you want your writing life to look and feel? What project you can realistically tackle? How, much are you writing each week?
What about boundaries–protecting that writing time–and also the emotional/psychological boundaries surrounding your topic. If you’re writing memoir, this is huge; if it’s fiction, you need to delve into the boundaries of your characters. What is everyone willing to reveal?
We can’t forget about the care-and-keeping of the writer, too.
So are you: getting daylight? Regular exercise? Socializing in ways that feel appropriate for you? Are you drinking enough water (I’m not; I can tell…I feel mentally sluggish)? How about your sleep? Is it fragmented? Are you staying up too late? Watching too much television? Are you reading enough books? Because reading begats writing…are you remembering to check in with yourself because sometimes it’s ourselves we’re the hardest on. So just slow the eff down, take 3 minutes to breathe, stare into space, feel your beating heart. I don’t think you’ll be sorry. Really.
In terms of your beating heart, in my ‘insights section,’ I’ve got a mini-chat with T. Greenwood about her forthcoming novel, SUCH A PRETTY GIRL (October 25, Kensington Books), about a former child actress/model, her mother’s ambition, following one’s passion, and more.
Tell me: How’s it going? Do you need a moment to get yourself together? [I feel you].
~Leslie : )
There’s more to this newsletter…keep scrolling!
What’s distracting/obsessing me:
- This flash speculative fiction piece in Craft Literary about new parenthood, a family history of depression, intergenerational trauma, and more.
- Lauren Acampora writes about how she didn’t want to write this promotional essay, but she did, and I love it. Check it out in LitHub.
- Floor plans from the 1930s era Sears kit homes.
- Photographing things from unique angles.
- Space, memory, nostalgia, architecture…
- The many forms of poetry. Is poetry navel-gazing? Does it sound pretentious to be a poet? Some serious [personal] hang-ups here…
Are you following me on IG? That’s where you’ll catch #bookreels of these ‘Book Bundles’
I highlight current, forthcoming, and backlist books. Maybe you’ll (re-) discover a new favorite?
New! 4 Questions mini-interview
SUCH A PRETTY GIRL: A Novel
Award-winning author T. Greenwood explores the often-flickering line between woman and girl in this vividly lyrical drama…
Without responding in complete sentences, what would you say SUCH A PRETTY GIRL is about?
Mothers and Daughters
Art and Exploitation
Where did you write SUCH A PRETTY GIRL? Do you have any special writing routines or rituals? Do they change with each project, or remain constant over time?
I wrote SAPG because I have always wanted to set a book in 1970’s New York City. I grew up in the 1970s, and I wanted to capture a lost time as well as that lost city. (My writing is often spurred on by a sort of aching nostalgia.) I have also always been fascinated by the way that the young actresses of my generation were so openly exploited by the industry. My aim was to tell the story about one such girl, and her ambitious stage mother’s complicity in this exploitation.
I have a fairly boring writing routine – and that is simply that I write every day. I try to stick to a word count quota of 1500 words when I am drafting a novel. In terms of rituals, I don’t have many other than coffee (in a special mug I’ve had for over twenty years) and solitude.
I typically tackle all projects with the same approach: daydreaming for a bit, then meeting daily word counts to get through the first draft. Then I take some time away before mapping out the mess I have made and strategizing the next draft. Rinse and repeat. I also have a couple trusted readers who will take a peek before I send it off to my agent or editor.
Right now, I am in the final stages of editing my next book. I have repeated the revising/mapping/revising process more times than I can count with this one.
If you weren’t writing, you would be…
I am a hobbyist photographer. But I also love film. If someone said I could go to college all over again, I would study photography and film history.
What book did you recently read that you can’t stop thinking about?
I read Jennette McCurdy’s memoir, I’m Glad My Mom Died, about her harrowing experiences as a child actress with an abusive mother. It had so many similar themes to Such a Pretty Girl! I feel like our books are sister books.
Some Writing Opportunities:
- Nimrod International is interested in reading your fiction, poetry, and CNF for their themed issue, “Body Language,” which really encompasses a lot…open till October 1 for the spring 2023 issue.
- Literary Mama is open year-round for work by both established and emerging writers about the complexities of motherhood. “We believe in a wide-ranging understanding of motherhood as experienced through multiple lenses and bodies.”
- Cobalt Review would like your poetry, CNF, Fiction, and more.
- Tahoma Review is reading for their Spring 2023 edition. There’s a fee to submit, but they are seeking flash, CNF, poetry, critique, more, through October 16.
- Craft Literary is looking for prose poetry, micofiction/flash under 2,000 words (for two pieces) to be judged by Amelia Gray. There’s a $20 reading fee, but winners get $1,000 award and a bundle of the Rose Metal Press Field Guides, Publication in CRAFT, with an introduction by Amelia Gray, and an author’s note (short craft essay) to accompany the piece. Now through October 31.
Recently-published Stuff You Might Have Missed:
- An essay about an experience at a workshop/retreat, featuring design/architecture, and how we are all works-in-progress, in The Smart Set.
- A conversation with Dr. Sabine Hossenfelder about her book, Existential Physics (Viking, August 9, 2022) in Hippocampus Magazine.
- A piece in the nostalgia dossier of Levitate Magazine, about my childhood interest in a (vintage) kid’s rooms and spaces book.
- A conversation with Carla Zaccagnini about her book, Cuentos de Cuentas (Amant/Verlag, spring 2000) in The Millions.
- A Conversation with Marie Myung-Ok Lee in The Millions, about her new novel, The Evening Hero, featuring aspects of immigration, Minnesota, color, and medicine.
- “Breaking Ground,” by Leslie Lindsay, flash fiction in The Tiny Journal
- “Making Space: Cicadas & My Mother,” by Leslie Lindsay, CNF in ANMLY
- Speaking of Apraxia: A Parents’ Guide to Childhood Apraxia of Speech, 2nd edition (Woodbine House, 2021) through some online retailers, your local library, used bookstores (it’s now officially out-of-print), and the audio edition is downloadable (with additional PDFs, resources) through Penguin Random House.
- A book review of YOUR HEARTS, YOUR SCARS (Bellevue Literary Press, January 2023) by Adina Talve-Goodman in DIAGRAM.
- A photo essay in On the Seawall featuring miniatures, houses, and a family besieged by mental illness.
- An interview with Lauren Acampora about the pursuit of art, the suburbs, growth and stagnation, more as related to her highly anticipated novel, THE HUNDRED WATERS, in The Millions
- A a hybrid flash non-fiction piece about the mysteries of ancestry in ELJ Editions Scissors & Spackle.
- A conversation with Kristina Langley Mahler about her new hybrid memoir, CURING SEASON: Artifacts (WVP, October 1) in Brevity.
- Other interviews forthcoming in HippocampusMagazine…Juliet Patterson’s SINKHOLE: A Natural History of a Suicide (Milkweed, September 2022) to appear in October. Sarah Fawn Montgomery’s HALFWAY FROM HOME (Split/Lip Press, Nov 1) to appear in November.
I’ll be sharing my published interviews here, after they’ve ‘gone live’ with their various publications.
There’s more to this newsletter. Keep scrolling.
What I’m reading:
Sarah Fawn Montgomery’s HALFWAY FROM HOME (Split/Lip Press, Nov 1), which is sooo achingly good…it’s a memoir in braided essays and her turns of phrase are so gutting, so visceral. It makes me want to write. Stay tuned for my interview with Sarah Fawn in Hippocampus this November. I also just finished Lidia Yuknavitch’s memoir, The Chronology of Water, and the writing is just phenomenal.
What I’m listening to:
David Naimon’s Between the Covers podcast as he chats with Lidia Yuknavitch (sensing a theme?) as she discusses her new novel, Thrust, but also the carrier bag theory of writing, Crafting with Ursula [K. LeGuin], and more.
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.
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