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~
I recently had dinner with my extended family. They don’t really ‘get’ the writing life. Maybe they think writers are all heads-in-the-clouds dreamy type people, or maybe they just don’t understand it, respect it/value it, but it got me thinking about what we–readers and writers–need, as a way to sustain our art. Let this be a wish list for you…now and in the New Year.
We all need support.
This doesn’t have to be financial, but that’s good, too! What I’m getting at is someone who says, “yep–I support this.”
We all need time to think, because half (more?) of all writing is thinking.
So clear the clutter in your mind. Meditate. Walk. Exercise. Journal. It’s never ‘wasted time.’
We all need the time to write.
This could be a few minutes a day, a weekend, or however you determine it. Carving out a time and space for our work is important.
We all need feedback, even if it’s just from one other person.
Sometimes that person may just be your partner, but that’s okay. Some feedback is better than none. You can always step it up a notch and join a critique group, work with a writing/accountability partner, submit to journals, agents, etc.
We all need to read.
I cannot emphasize this enough! Read widely. Read often. Read stuff slightly out of your comfort zone. Read stuff at a higher caliber than you write. It will catapult you to the next level. Read like your life depends upon it. It does.
We all need to feel valuable or recognized.
Yep. Writing can be a slog. There’s plenty of rejection and naysayers. It’s subjective, too. When we don’t feel valued or recognized, it can feel like screaming into a void. Surround yourself with supportive and accepting individuals who value you and your writing/art making.
We all need to feel safe.
This sort of goes back to the point above about feeling valued and recognized. No one can create art, take risks, or even be themselves if safety is compromised.
We all need a vacation.
So, so true! It’s hard as a creative to fully unplug because you are connected to your brain all the time. You can’t just turn off the creativity like a switch, even on vacation. Still yet, I will often get emails from editors and publicists and authors while I’m away. They don’t know I’m on vacation. So, here’s what you do: you set an out-of-office response on your emails. You stop checking. You can still do what you want while away–maybe it means journaling, reading, snapping photos, collecting ideas/stories.
How about you? What kinds of things do you feel you need to pursue your art? Is is different than what’s above?
~Leslie : )
By the way, I do not get any ‘kick-backs’ or other kind of payment (in-kind, or otherwise) for mentioning these classes/workshops/books/individuals. Sharing because it helps me and maybe it’ll speak to you, too.
I’ll keep my obsessions short because this time of year…our bandwidths are, too.
What’s Obsessing Me:
- Retreats! There’s a fabulous yoga retreat I am interested in attending this fall in Montana and also Ragdale has several throughout 2023 and I’m drooling over this historic home in Lake Forest, IL. And yes…all of that.
- Lake Geneva, WI Ice Castles! I mean, how cool would that be?!
Some Writerly Things:
- Writing Workshops has some great offerings coming up in the New Year you want want to check out. Add it to your holiday wish list!
- Off Campus Writing Workshops (OCWW) is new-ish to me at the suggestion of several writerly friends. OCWW offers in-person or virtual–depending on where you are/comfort level–to level up your craft. Check ’em out!
- Visual Verse is open for Ekphrasis work now.
- Archetype is interested in seeing your essays, poetry, fiction, interviews, reviews, impassioned musings, photography, and art by both emerging and established writers and artists now thru Jan 7 2023.
- If you have some poetry, CNF, Fiction, or photography (bonus if it includes blues, greens, and teals–totally my jam!), Solstice Literary Magazine is seeking submissions for Spring 2023.
- The Ninth Letter is looking for CNF and poetry for their next print issue. Subs are open thru Feb 28, but FREE until December 31.
- Arvon 5-day Hybrid Writing Challenge Sign up to join the free Arvon 5-day Hybrid Writing Challenge.Each day, between Monday 16 January to Friday 20 January we will email you a writing prompt with supporting materials, guided by Tania Hershman. By the end of the week you will have a draft of a brand-new hybrid writing piece, all ready to be polished and prodded as you see fit. Tania’s 5-day Challenge will inspire you to get curious about your writing, and give you the freedom to write whatever you want to write in the way you want to write it, without worrying about labels.
Some Readerly Things:
- Books make great gifts! Check out this list from LitHub ‘s staff featuring their favorite books of 2022. Consider ordering from or visiting your local bookstore and give everyone on your list a book this year. Inscribe it. It’s better than a card. Beats even a gift card. No local store nearby? Try Bookshop.org. My shop is Always with a Book.
- More of a non-fiction reader? Check out this list from Bookmarks on the best reviewed nonfiction of the year.
- I’m in the midst of reading Lauren Camp’s award-winning poetry collection, TOOK HOUSE (Tupelo Press, 2020) which is about so many things, and sort of hard to describe, but the cover is a pretty good indication that it’s about space and what dwells there, along with nature. Here’s a gorgeous description from the back of the book,
“TOOK HOUSE navigates a landscape of bone and ash, wine and circumstance.”
- Can’t make book club this month? One person I know, who’s book club I am not in, says they don’t read a book for December. Instead, they go out to dinner and chat about books for the upcoming year. What a great idea!
- Being a teenager is tough! We were all one once before…maybe we’re raising teens now…this book might be just the ticket and makes a great gift this season. Check out Derek T. Freeman’s BUIDLING UNSTOPPABLE SELF-CONFIDENCE FOR TEENS.
Some Recently Published Interviews, Prose, Etc.:
- Kathryn Gahl in conversation with me about her poetic memoir, THE YELLOW TOOTHBRUSH (Two Shrews Press, September 2022), about her incarcerated daughter, perinatal mood disorder, more in MER, November 28, 2022.
- Sarah Fawn Montgomery’s HALFWAY FROM HOME (Split/Lip Press, Nov 8) in Hippocampus Magazine, about her working-class unconventional childhood in California, moving across the country to pursue writing, home, displacement, and so much more November 13, 2022.
- A conversation-in-review with the EIC of Salon, Erin Keane, about her memoir, RUNAWAY: Notes on the Myths that Made Me (Belt Publishing, September, 2022), in Autofocus Literary, November 12, 2022.
- A conversation with Sheila O’Connor about elegantly exploring the nonlinear, (a total obsession of mine), in her EVIDENCE OF V: A Novel in Fragments, Facts, Fictions (Rose Metal Press, 2019), in Fractured Literary, October 25, 2022
- A review-in-dialogue with Su Cho about her debut book of poetry, THE SYMMETRY OF FISH (Penguin Poets, October 2022) in The Cincinnati Review, November 1 2022.
- Prose in SEPIA Journal Oct/Nov 2022 issue. Interiors is about an Appalachian family, black bottom pie, trains, and ear aches. It was inspired by my own family lore, and also: this journal is STUNNING!
- 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 review-in-dialogue with Kristine Langley Mahler about her debut, CURING SEASON: Artifacts, in Brevity. We unpack home, displacement, found forms, more.
- An essay about an experience at a workshop/retreat, featuring design/architecture, and how we are all works-in-progress, in The Smart Set.
- 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.
- A a hybrid flash non-fiction piece about the mysteries of ancestry in ELJ Editions Scissors & Spackle.
- Other interviews forthcoming in HippocampusMagazine…Juliet Patterson’s SINKHOLE: A Natural History of a Suicide (Milkweed, September 2022).
- A conversation-in-review with Nicole McCarthy on her genre-defying A SUMMONING (Heavy Feather Review, September 2022) to appear in CRAFT Literary in 2023.
- A conversation-in-review with Jamila Minnicks, on her PEN/Bellwether Prize-winning debut, MOONRISE OVER NEW JESSUP (Algonquin Books, January 10, 2023) to appear in The Rumpus.
- Tanya Frank’s ZIG-ZAG BOY: A Memoir of Motherhood & Madness (W.W. Norton, Feb 28 2023), a review and conversation to appear in Hippocampus Magazine, spring 2023.
- A review-in-conversation with Gayle Brandeis about her forthcoming memoir, DRAWING BREATH: Essays on Writing, The Body, and Grief (Overcup Press, Feb 2023) to appear in Hippocampus Magazine
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.
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.
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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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