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~
Only Your Writer Friends Understand
Occasionally I get asked, “Are you still writing?” or, “How’s the writing going?” Sometimes there’s variation: “Have you anything published recently?”
Maybe you’re not a ‘real’ writer if you have nothing to show for it.
But here’s the thing: writing requires long hours – a long process – to create.
Few people understand what it takes specifically for writers to create.
For example, I’ll bet there are several among your group who don’t get it. (I call them “non-writers,” original right?) They don’t understand that when you’re staring out a window for half an hour, you’re at work. Maybe you’re at work as you’re driving, unloading the dishwasher, even reading something else non-related to what you’re writing (you’re deconstructing how that author did her work). You might very well be staring out that window for half-an-hour or running the vacuum, or walking but perhaps you’re trying to work out a problem in the narrative, how to increase tension or pace. Maybe there’s a passage niggling at you to fix.
These folks have no idea how wounding it is when they say something like, “Are you still writing that book?” They mean well, of course; they love you. They simply don’t get it.
But you know who does get it? Your writer friends. They understand what goes into the work. They know about the time you’ve spent mulling over options, word choices, passages, and more. They know when you love your work and when it think it’s the stupidest thing on the planet Earth, ever. They know about the rejections, the celebrated acceptances, all of it. They know it because they are there with you.
Do you have a network of writer friends? I hope so! It’s not always easy to find, them, but once you do, cherish them. They are with you in spirit on every step of your journey to create. They really do get it.
Some suggestions for finding writer friends:
I’ve been to a couple and have found likeminded people every time. Get their contact information. Reach out. Maintain that friendship.
Same could be said for…
Check local places first–a college or writing institute or online communities.
Library Writing Groups
Not all local libraries have these, but some do! Maybe a local bookstore hosts a regular writing group. Check into it.
You might find a Facebook Group for your genre, or region. I like Midwest Writer’s Facebook Group, for example.
Where do you find your writing people? Who are they? How do they support you? How do you support them?
Respond here in a comment, or find me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.
~Leslie : )
This issue of Musings & Meanderings is jam-packed with some really great stuff to get your writing and reading off on the right foot. Classes and workshops, bookstore events, book recommendations, journals to submit to, reading recommendations, author interviews, recently published prose, and a quick 4 questions insights interview with Robert Lopez, author of DISPATCHES OF PUERTO NOWHERE.
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 if helps me, maybe it’ll speak to you, too.
Some Writerly Things:
- It’s hard to know if you are writing enough, too much (it’s a thing–remember to care for yourself and other parts of your life), check out these great TIPS from Danielle Lazarin, originally published in Catapult Magazine. I love the tracking sheet and just might make my own! P.S. Super-sad to hear Catapult is shuttering.
- Have you ever attended a workshop, class, or retreat with Lidia Yuknavitch or Corporeal Writing? I did back in the fall of 2022 and loved it. The trees! The ferns! The ocean! It was a nourishing and dare I say–healing–experience. If you’re so inclined, take a peek at their Spring 2022 offering at the lovely Salishan Coastal Lodge.
- If a retreat at Salishan isn’t quite in the cards, I get it. This offering, about mapping the body, telling the book of your body, held later this month, might be of interest to you.
- Here’s a virtual class on writing memoir for publication taught by James Tate Hill, contributing editor for LitHub and taught through Writer’s Workshops. It’s an eight-week course beginning March 20. Check it out.
- I just registered for this virtual, at-your-own-pace class with Leanne Dunic through Hedgebrook. It’s all about experimentation with form. It’s a pre-recorded class. Here are the juicy details:
“Not all narratives are best-suited to double-spaced, left-to-right, top-to-bottom text, but how does one start experimenting with form? We’ll review published examples of hybrid forms, and together we will deconstruct and reinvent traditional texts to explore exciting ways of marrying form with content. We’ll explore the flexibility of language and discuss ways of drawing on other art forms for inspiration.
- I plan to attend this event through Story Studio Chicago, An Evening with Courtney Maum, most recently the author of THE YEAR OF THE HORSES, a memoir about depression, horseback riding, and so much more. Plus! Recently announced–Megan Stielestra will now be joining this gathering. She teaches CNF/memoir at Northwestern and is the author of ONCE I WAS COOL and THE WRONG WAY TO SAVE YOUR LIFE. [that link will take you to my previously published interview with Stielstra] Maybe I’ll see you there?!
Musings & Meanderings | Insights
DISPATCHES FROM PUERTO NOWHERE:
An American Story of Assimilation & Erasure
“Robert Lopez is one of the most exciting writers working today.”
—Jenny Offill, author of Weather and Dept. of Speculation, on A Better Class of People
“A Most Anticipated Book of 2023” —Chicago Review of Books
Without responding in complete sentences, what would you say DISPATCHES FROM PUERTO NOWHERE is about?
Robert Lopez :
It’s about 260 pages, but there’s a lot of white space.
Where did you write DISPATCHES FROM PUERTO NOWHERE? Do you have any special writing routines or rituals? Do they change with each project, or remain constant over time?
Robert Lopez :
I wrote it at the desk in my office in the three different apartments I’ve called home since I started and finished writing this book. Part of it was written in Salt Lake City, Utah, as well. No special routines or rituals. When I feel compelled to work I sit down and work. This is the way it’s happened with everything I’ve done.
If you weren’t writing, you would be…
Robert Lopez :
What book did you recently read that you can’t stop thinking about?
Robert Lopez :
John D’Agata’s About A Mountain
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Robert Lopez is the author of three novels, two story collections, and a novel-in-stories titled A Better Class of People. His first nonfiction book, Dispatches From Puerto Nowhere, publishes on March 14th from Two Dollar Radio. He teaches at Stony Brook University and lives in Brooklyn.
For more information, to purchase a copy of DISPATCHES FROM PUERTO NOWHERE, please visit Robert Lopez’s WEBSITE.
Browse my Bookshop.org for more books featured on Musings & Meanderings, what I’m reading in 2023, and some of my favorite books on writing...and more!
Some Recently Published Interviews, Prose, Etc.:
- A conversation with Tanya Frank about her new memoir, ZIG-ZAG BOY: A Memoir of Motherhood & Madness, about her son’s devolve into psychosis at nineteen, how she coped, advocated, and more. It’s a very moving read and interview.
- Gayle Brandeis and I sat down for a conversation about her breath-taking essay collection, DRAWING BREATH: Essays on Writing, the Body, and Grief in Hippocampus Magazine. The book is available now from Overcup Books.
- It was such a dream to connect with Nicole McCarthy on her equally dreamy and sublime A SUMMONING (Heavy Feather Press, 2022) and be featured in CRAFT Literary for their hybrid contest (now over), but you can still read the interview HERE.
- This piece, ANSWERS TO QUERIES, was recently published in the final issue of Scissors & Spackle, part of the ELJ Editions family. Who doesn’t like a family history mystery? Check it out.
- THE HOUSE, a love letter of sorts to my late grandfather and our newlywed home, recently released from Heimat Review, which is all about ‘your reflections and nostalgia, your narratives of familiarity and strangeness, the things that draw you back to where you are – and where you hope to be.’ C’mon in.
- Y’all, I am super-excited about this illustrated review in DIAGRAM, which has sorta been like a dream place of mine to get work published. It’s a beautiful melding of all things that bring me joy: fonts, words, ideas, art, books, and the human body. I mean…the only obsessions missing for me is architecture, travel, nature, and basset hounds. Check it out and the book, YOUR HEARTS, YOUR SCARS: Essays by the late Adina Talve-Goodman (Bellevue Literary Press, Jan 24 2023), which happens to be a Powell’s pick for January.
- 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.
There’s more to this newsletter. Keep scrolling.
What’s Obsessing Me:
- Architecture, Photography…I mean, this doesn’t ever really change, does it?
- Visual writing. Graphic narrative. Hybrid work. You know…there’s more than one way to skin a cat.
- Filling my cup. Eliminating things that don’t serve me.
- Planning my daughter’s 18th?!! Birthday.
- Graduation announcements
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.
More than 2,800 folks read Musings & Meanderings.
Sending spring vibes your way!
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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