Journal

POLY-READER NOTES: JULY 2020

Reeeeeading-! Why have you become so hard?! It seems like I haven’t read anything in the last month, but I actually have. Not a lot, but some. I even finished some books (The Enchanted Castle, thank goodness–that was unfortunately more of a pill than I remembered–and whizzed through The Pomodoro Method, though to be fair, it’s short. I’ve also been working to reestablish reading one short story a day, which is maybe the single most useful habit I had prior to baby (besides: if it ain’t submitted, it ain’t “finished”) in terms of improving my own writing. So I’m picking my way through a Clarkesworld collection, but I don’t tend to include that on my “currently reading” list, because I’m only reading stories at or under ten pages (a means to roughly estimate about 5k words and under). It’s not purely from laziness that I’ve selected out the 5k-and-below stories; it’s largely because I’m trying to teach myself to write shorter, and 5k is an immensely more salable length for a relatively new author. Someday I’ll go back and read some of the longer stories (some of them are the most memorable works of short-length fiction I’ve ever read), but for now I’m just trying to glut-out on 5k> so I can really internalize what that length can do.

Also, I’ve reached my ZOMG TOO MANY BOOKS max of a dozen books currently in some state of “actively reading.” This will either mean I need to seriously finish at least four books this month to open up some space, OR I’m going to have to flush a couple books I’ve lost the motivation to read.

What I’m Reading:

Notes:

How to Write Funny: I picked this one up a couple weeks ago in order to better understand how to embrace my humorous side in fiction. I may write more about this one later, but I think there’s a great need in the SF markets for solid genre humor, and while it’s not something I’ve practiced regularly, in the past, I’ve enjoyed writing more flippant, silly things, and having just sold my humorous superhero story, “Any Day But Today…”, I’ve gotten the bug to write fun fiction again. So far so good, we’ll see how it goes!

White Fragility: Well, like every white person who’s feeling the intense pull to self-educate more these days, and with good reason, I picked up a copy of White Fragility. It’s a good read so far, and very necessary not only for these times, but for all the times that came before. I’ve read a few books on race in America before, and this one reminds me of White Like Me, which I read back in college. If you’re also reading this one and would like other recommendations, I’d highly recommend Beverly Daniel Tatem’s Why Are All the Black Kids Eating Together in the Cafeteria, which is a powerhouse of the self-education race books. It’s also just a very approachable, fast-reading book that I thoroughly enjoyed and learned a lot from.

Story Trumps Structure: Haven’t picked this one up in weeks, and it’s not even on my side table (oops). Need to get back to it, though, because it’s got some ideas that are pretty useful, and as I age as a writer, I’m realizing I’m more of a so-called “pantser” than I realized. Kind of a mix, really, of plotting and winging it, but most of the books out there on structure are very plot-mind centric, and I’m starting to realize that doesn’t 100% work for me all the time.

Meander, Spiral, Explode: Haven’t touched this one in a while, but I probably need to make it a priority, because I don’t want to forget what I’ve already read, and it’s not a long book. It’s conceivable that I could finish it this month if I put my mind to it.

Dad is Fat (audio): I’ve been chipping away at this one, but my opportunities to listen to audio fiction have been hard to come by lately, largely due to the broken toe, which keeps me from walking, which is my primary time for such things. Ah well. Sometime soon, I hope to get a little more of this wrapped up. Maybe I could finish it by end of July?

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman: I love, love, love this book so much, I actually don’t want to rush it. I’ve read almost everything that Murakami has written to date (save, I think, one or two recent novels and maybe one more short story collection), and I just so thoroughly enjoy his fiction-scapes, I don’t want it to be over. Not that I couldn’t re-read it, and might consider doing so, but I just want to saver every moment with this collection.

Wild Swans: I haven’t picked up this book in probably about two months, so I really need to put it center stage–it’s another one I don’t want to slip too far from, lest I forget where I was and what had been happening.

How to Write a Page-Turner: Have really neglected this one, and it’s not super long, so I probably need to commit to finishing it to get it out of the pile.

A Feast of Sorrows: I’m actually really close to done with this one–just got hung up on the novellette towards the end, and had to restart it to remember what had happened. But Slatter’s a brilliant writer and her worlds are so rich, it’s not like it’s a chore to read. I just need to make some effort to put it front and center. Could definitely finish this one in July.

Creativity for Life: Woof, I don’t even know where I put this one. It’s around, I’m sure. Probably in a box somewhere… It’s good, but it’s a heavier/psychological-think-y book that just hasn’t been what I’ve craved reading lately, which means it’s more of an uphill battle to get back into. I may not worry about this one in July, and just focus on the ones I have a better shot at finishing.

The Power Broker: I——–haven’t gotten much (read: any) farther in this one, but not for lack of interest! It’s another one I need to put front-and-center so I remember to pick it up. Biggest challenge, as I’ve said before, is that it’s MASSIVE, which makes it hard to balance comfortably while feeding, which is typically the only somewhat-still time I get to read. That, and Goldbug has become a decided thrasher (I think he does it on purpose to knock things out of my hands), so any and all reading during feedings is becoming a very precarious and not very focused process.

The Hound of the Baskervilles: This is me and B-Bug’s nighttime reading, actually. I have the fondest memories of being obsessed with Sherlock Holmes as a young child (I even took violin lessons for a year because he played violin), and of all the Holmes stories, this is my fa-fa-FAVE. I even read it myself in fourth grade (after I’d been introduced around kindergarten by my mother reading it aloud to me–I also forced her to read Phantom of the Opera to me at that age as well) for my “advanced reading” project, which was hard but so deliciously great. It’s such a delight to read now, and a delight to read aloud after the clunky The Enchanted Castle. Such flow! Such clarity!

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