Lyse Links: Heroes, predicting the future, and fun


Short list for you this week, but that means you have time to read them all! Several of these deserve some extra thought. I’d love to see your comments.

About Heroes — This is an excellent essay from Maggie Stiefvater about heroes and self-image. Maggie is a fascinating person and impressive writer. I was stunned when I discovered this post.

What office buildings tell you about the people who work there — the eccentric offices of tech firms may tell us a lot about how people will work in the future. Then again, it may just be a trend that disappears.

Are We Having Too Much Fun? — This is a deep and timely discussion. Our obsession with entertainment may be our societal downfall.

Stop Apologizing for Delayed Email Responses — This is a simple and transformative idea based off a broader thought-provoking essay that asks, “Do you want to be known for your writing or for your swift email responses?” [That longer essay is full of cursing and has a lot to do with patriarchy, writing, and mental models.] The ideas of reprioritizing and making intentional communication choices are pivotal for me. We could use much more of this in life.

 

Chabon & Childhood


Michael Chabon keeps popping up in my feeds. First it was random mentions on Twitter (I didn’t pay much attention to those). Then it was the much-lauded essay about attending Paris Fashion Week with his son, Abe. I eventually read and loved the piece, but didn’t do any further research. Today it was a Buzzfeed piece by Doree Shafrir. I read it in fascination, slowly falling in love with this funny, thoughtful, geeky author.

Each time I saw his name, a memory niggled. I can very clearly see a thick, brightly-colored book on the shelf in my local library. My memory thinks that it is called Summerland. My memory also thinks that Michael Chabon wrote it. But each time that I read about him, I am less sure. There’s no mention of this book in the Twitter posts, the essay, the profile. The more I know—about his literary connections, about his current work—the less he seems like a man who would have written the middle grade book, which, if my memory serves me correctly, was about baseball. I start to wonder if I’m remembering the wrong author’s name. At one point, I even think I might be confusing the title with Ally Condie’s haunting middle-grade, Summerlost.

Finally, I resort to Wikipedia to confirm my very specific but now doubtful memory. The world’s free encyclopedia confirms that I’m right: Michael Chabon is the author of Summerland. It’s about a magical quest and baseball plays a big role.

I click through the references to see what reviewers of the time thought about Summerland. They’re not complimentary.

And these discoveries, while they reassure me that my memory for books is exactly as good as I expect it to be, trouble me. Figuring out why requires a bit of a journey. Continue reading

Discussion Post: Readers & Fitness


Ok, let’s talk about a thing that bothers me. (because what else is a blog for??)

You know this idea that readers/bookworms/writers are secluded nerds with no athletic ability or physical fitness?

[If you don’t know, it’s totally a thing. See pictures.]

Logically, this stereotype sorta makes sense. It’s not very easy to read while exercising (although the prevalence of ebooks & audiobooks has made it lots easier!). So when we grow up, we have to choose between reading or playing sports. And most people choose one and mostly ignore the other. It’s a real thing. Bookworms like their tea/coffee & blankets. Inside. Not exercising.

hermioneBut I have a lots of problems with this stereotype. Not because I don’t like blankets or coziness. (I don’t drink tea or coffee. I knooooow, it’s weird! You can stop throwing things.) Also, not because I think jocks/athletic people can’t be bookish (they definitely can be).

I’ve been very systematically observing bookworms for a few months now (maybe a year? what is time???) and I’ve reached a conclusion.

Ready?

Lots of readers and writers love moving and being outdoors. Like, really love it.

Writers talk/write/post often about how physical activity helps them sort through plotting/writing issues. They walk. They run marathons. They do yoga (or aerial yoga–looking at you, Gwenda Bond!). And I’m sure many of them are active but don’t post about it.

 

Readers are the same. I play soccer. I run. Have played sports basically my entire life. Readers carry huge stacks of books. Readers play with their dogs. Readers stand in long lines to meet authors.

But here’s the most irritating thing about this stereotype.

We–the readers, the writers, the lovers of books–perpetuate it. We embrace it. 

I’m far more likely to share a funny book meme than something about running. I’m more likely to post a picture of my book than a post-workout selfie. It’s time for that to change.

Can we make bookstagram/booktube/book blogs/etc. encompass all our interests? Can we stop pretending that we all live in book burritos all day?bookburrito

Can we ditch this idea that readers avoid outdoors and activity at all costs? We’re strong enough to imagine others complexly. (h/t to the Green brothers, obviously)

Writing Advice from Read Up Greenville


As a career writer and aspiring fiction author, I really enjoy the writing advice that successful authors offer at conferences. It’s equal parts discouraging reality (12 years to publish??) and encouraging normality (they’re real humans like me!).

I don’t want to recreate all of the keynotes/panels, but I jotted down a few interesting points.

Jay Asher

It takes years for the ideas to come together. Several authors have mentioned this concept–basically, the idea for a story starts many, many years before they’re finally able to write it. In some ways, that gives me hope, but Continue reading

ReadUp Greenville 2016 Recap


Today, a YA & MG book festival launched in my city. I have many, many feels about this, but let me try to convey them in some semblance of coherence.

The Significance

group of authors at read up bookfest

Some of the authors. (Photo from @readupbookfest, with permission)

The previous (and first) book festival I attended was 5-6 hours away. I got a hotel room and drove all by myself to meet authors and attend panels. Growing up, I didn’t know that festivals like this existed. I never imagined that I would meet an author, much less many of them. I never imagined that they would give me writing advice and geek out over my Doctor Who t-shirts. So now, to have this festival in my city? That is a dream I didn’t even know to dream for so long.

The Line-up

jay asher author speaking

Jay Asher, the opening keynote presentation (photo from @readupbookfest, with permission)

Read Up featured 27 authors. I was familiar with about half of them. Major draws for me: Continue reading

Lyse Links: Snow weekend edition!


Here are some articles to keep you occupied until the snow melts away and you resume normal life.

Thoughts on these? Read something interesting that I would like? Let me know in the comments!

Poems to Share: Mary Oliver


14163793451_e7dd46748fHave you read Mary Oliver? Her poems are beautiful and real and full of nature. She is not stuffy or stickler about rhythm or sending you rushing for a dictionary. Her poems are like rain in spring and wind in fall – invigorating and life-giving. You can read several here.

In the meantime, I have one to share. This poem aptly described my day (many of my days!) and I thought it might resonate with some of you. Much as I love my writing and books and good job, some days I long to be back in the mountains, running and hiking and living practically outdoors. What about you?

Work, Sometimes

I was sad all day, and why not.  There I was, books piled
on both sides of the table, paper stacked up, words
falling off my tongue. Continue reading

In defense of the liberal arts


I attend a liberal arts university. In addition to the English classes for my major, I am required to attend history, Bible, communications, philosophy, science, arts (music, art, or theater), and math/computer science classes. Sometimes my friends, here or at other liberal arts schools, complain about taking so many classes unrelated to their majors. While I could write a long defense of liberal arts, it would be boring and probably redundant for most of you. Instead, I would like to share a story that illustrates some of my favorite aspects of a liberal arts education.

This semester I am taking (in addition to other things) a philosophy class exploring major patterns in Western thought and a British Literature survey class. These two classes meet on the same day, separated by four hours. One morning last week, we studied Seneca in my philosophy class. Specifically, we read a selection from “On Happiness” and discussed his belief that happiness only accompanies virtue. 4 hours later, I was listening to a lecture on Alexander Pope (totally fascinating, but that’s a different story!). My teacher mentioned some of his writings that we didn’t read and told us that he believed virtue was happiness. In a terrific “ah-ha!” moment, I made the connection: Pope is a neoclassic, almost certainly well-studied in the Greek and Roman writers – if not Seneca, then others like him.  When I mentioned the connection, half the class nodded along with me, because they too are taking that philosophy class. Instead of simply knowing that the neoclassics studied the classic writers and allude to and copy them, we got to see it in action.

This is why I love liberal arts. Instead of classes being isolated, individual subjects, they all weave and connect – exactly like real life. In real life, our english is not separate from history, arts from science, philosophy from communication. They all come together to give us a more complete picture of the world. Why would anyone ever resign themselves to one tiny thread when they can view the whole tapestry?

An anecdotal birthday present


My father’s birthday was this week. I missed it, because I’m at college. If I were home, I would have given him a hug. I’m not a daddy’s girl, but I do miss those sometimes. But since I am here, I am going to write instead.

I never considered my parents to have much to do with my reading, particularly my taste in books. Looking back now, obviously I see a lot more of it, but it is true that for the most part, I chose a lot of the things I read. However, in the last year or two, I have realized that my dad affected my taste in reading quite a bit. As a kid, one of the only things I knew how to talk about was books. So I was constantly talking about what I was reading, and then regularly pestering my parents for any suggestions of books to read. On one such occasion, my dad suggested Lloyd Alexander’s books. I took his suggestion, and as my title evidences, they became favorites of mine. I have read everything of Alexander’s that I can get my hands on (well over half his writings) and loved every moment. Somewhere in the train of my adolescent history, I forgot that my dad lit that spark. When I remembered, it became something precious, a point of connection that we seldom make, and certainly never vocalize.

My father also started me on sci-fi. He suggested Fahrenheit 451 and Isaac Asimov. I read and loved both. From there, I continued to read science fiction. He also suggested Brave New World, which I still remember and will still read at some point.

If you asked me today what my favorite genre was, my answer would likely be either fantasy, or fantasy/sci-fi, since sometimes they blend together inseparably in my mind. In either case, I have to acknowledge that my father probably started me on the path to loving both genres. That is something for which I am unspeakably grateful – small moments that have shaped me in innumerable ways.

Chances are, he doesn’t even realize the impact his book suggestions had on me. He may not even remember suggesting them. But I do. For that, I thank him very much.