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 am getting excited for the winter solstice, this gentle turning-in, these cozy darker days. What is it about the darkness that conjures creativity? Maybe it’s the way it encourages a hibernation, a slower pace, a time to go fallow? For me it’s a bit like crawling into the cave of creativity, having nothing else vying for my attention–at least outside–no garden to water or plants that require nurturing. Reading, contemplating, playing on the page, listening, looking out the window, observing patterns.
Just this past weekend, I took a workshop with Esme Weijun Wang, most recently the author of The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays (Graywolf Press, 2019), and it was so warm, generous, validating, with really great tips for setting intentions and looking back on the last year.
Here are just a few things that we discussed, which I wanted to pass along to you:
What song would you say embodied 2022 for you? It doesn’t have to be a song that was released this year.
What three words shaped your year?
Can you draw a doodle of the year?
Those could be just anything, for anyone, ‘creative person,’* or not.
*we’re all creative!
We also talked about our limitations.
These could be ‘Big L’ limitations like differently-abled, loss of employment, physical health issues/illness, mental health issues/hospitalizations, financial hardship, natural disasters, etc. or smaller things, like time, children, pets, caregiving. All of these things can affect our creativity, right?
For me, I said it was time. My life is pretty jam-packed and I like it that way…to an extent! But, if I don’t carefully plan and map out my time, there’s no opportunity to indulge in a key aspect of myself: creativity.
Here’s another question:
How can you use your limitation in your art?
My brilliant suggestion: since my time is already fragmented, why not compose my manuscript in fragments?!
Why not turn your limitation into art?
Let me know what you’re doing!
Do you have a word or phrase for the year that just passed? How about one(s) for the year ahead? How might you capitalize on your limitations to take your art/creativity to the next level?
Respond here in a comment, or find me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.
~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:
- This super-inspiring and ooh lala place Artemesia, their tagline: “collage with nature.” They are all about terrariums (who couldn’t use a little green this time of year?), rocks, making your own perfume, and more.
Some Writerly Things:
- Check out these 2023 retreats with Nancy Stohlman, who focuses mostly on flash.
- Relatedly, she offers a lovely rabbit-hole of flash-style books you may fall in love with. See “Readerly Things” for her ever-evolving list.
Psst! I ordered a few myself!
- Corporeal Writing has some inspiring winter offerings–both in-person and virtual–to level up your writing.
- If you just need to some prompts/portals for your work (and maybe not a class), check out these new Corporeal Writing Portals. A deck of 54 full-color cards which might help you dive deeper into the story under the story. From the website description:
“More than just writing prompts, these portals are collected together with the intention of helping you cultivate a deeper relationship to language, your environment, and yourself.”
Psst! I got myself a deck.
Some Readerly Things:
This list of flash was originally compiled by Nancy Stohlman. I really did just copy-and-paste from her lovely descriptions because 1) I probably couldn’t do any better 2) it saves time 3) why reinvent the wheel?
Tommy Dean: Hollows
In Hollows, Tommy Dean reveals the crawlspaces and attics of American families, the places we dread and the places we yearn for—moments we didn’t know we needed until they were already lost. These fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, brothers, wives, and best friends crack and bend under the pressure of conventional love, running away and toward one another, longing for a space to call home, often giving in to the hollow securities of their lives.
Renuka Raghavan: Nothing Respendent Lives Here The struggle is real. These 33 tales of flash and micro fiction are rife with the intensity of desolation and heartache. We are introduced to a motley array of characters clinging to hope as internal and external forces put a strain on their lives. Do they find the light, or do they succumb to the darkness? Through brevity and clarity of prose Raghavan’s stories carry weight and deliver punches. Just when you think you know where the story is going, the narrative takes an unexpected turn.
Chelsea Stickle: Breaking Points
In thirteen slick, innovative, and gut-wrenching flashes, the young women and girls in Breaking Points, the debut chapbook from Chelsea Stickle, hit the walls around them—walls constructed by family, friends, significant others, and insidious cultural perils.
Annie Bien: Messages from Under a Pillow
Messages from a mother to her child, notes sent from beyond to here, the appearance of drawings on a page, words that conjure up history, another place, kept alive by words, which are both a type of silence and conjurers of images. Annie Bien’s tender and layered Messages from Under a Pillow is a collection of seven prose poems or flash fictions, intentions or explanations for drawings the recipient should look out for.
Jude Higgins The Chemist’s House
A collection that pokes softly at the spaces between people: sister, brother, father, mother, neighbour, friend. Higgins’ stories reveal moments where small truths, and lies, dwell. Understated and quiet, these small fictions paint lives gently, but oh so colourfully. / In interconnected, finely wrought flash fiction stories, Jude Higgins creates a coming-of-age tapestry — of family love and conflict; and of a girl’s passage into womanhood. Higgins’ flash pieces blend into one masterly and moving whole: poignant, loving, and profound in emotional impact.
Meg Tuite White Van
The fifty pieces in this book make up a collection of prose, poetry, and hybrid pieces that unflinchingly examine the worst we humans have to offer. You’ll meet serial killers, pedophiles, and child pornographers and the women they seek to victimize as we struggle to make sense of our brutal species. With a beautifully foreboding cover by Adam Robinson, this book will take you all the places you’re most afraid to go.
Michael Loveday: Do What the Boss Says: Stories of Family and Childhood
A daughter nervously visits her father who has now become a stranger; a young Irish girl substitutes a cardboard cut-out for her presence within her own family; a naive schoolboy is tricked by a more streetwise passer-by; a child tries to impress her village by breaking the world record for stepping in and out of a doorway. This chapbook offers you a kaleidoscopic view of the pressures, conflicts and joys of childhood and family life: from surreal fables to memoir, to idiosyncratic realism, to ghost stories about weird encounters.
Michael Loveday: Unlocking the Novella-in-Flash
Unlocking the Novella-in-Flash: from Blank Page to Finished Manuscript is the first ever full roadmap for creating your own novella composed of flash fictions, or very short stories. Whether you’ve written a novella-in-flash before, or are a beginner newly experimenting, this flexible, step-by-step craft guide will support you to produce a high-quality manuscript of linked narratives
Some Recently Published Interviews, Prose, Etc.:
- Hippocampus Magazine…Juliet Patterson’s SINKHOLE: A Natural History of a Suicide (Milkweed, September 2022).
- 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.
- 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, DRAWING BREATH: Essays on the Body, Writing, & Loss (Overcup Press, February 2023)
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.
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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Wishing you much comfort and joy in the New Year!
Created by Leslie Lindsay. I’m a proud book nerd. Connect with me on Instagram, and Twitter. See what I’m reading on Bookshop.org. Find my reviews on GoodReads. I’m also a Zibby Books Ambassador.
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