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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on How to Write and How to Read

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on How to Write and How to Read | Writing & Reading | Scoop.it
Believe it or not, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie—acclaimed novelist, famous feminist, certified genius—turns 40 today. In recent years, Adichie has become an
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Karl Ove Knausgaard: what makes life worth living?

Karl Ove Knausgaard: what makes life worth living? | Writing & Reading | Scoop.it
Apples, plastic bags, teeth – the bestselling Norwegian author brings his forensic attention to everyday objects to explain the world in a letter to his unborn baby
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Want to support an author's or illustrator's new book but can't afford to buy it? Here's what you can do. - Inkygirl: Guide For Kidlit/YA Writers & Artists - via @inkyelbows

Want to support an author's or illustrator's new book but can't afford to buy it? Here's what you can do. - Inkygirl: Guide For Kidlit/YA Writers & Artists - via @inkyelbows | Writing & Reading | Scoop.it
Illustrated tips, info, comics, book reviews, interviews for kidlit/YA writers & illustrators by Debbie Ridpath Ohi, illustrator of I'M BORED by Michael Ian Black, Simon & Schuster/2012.
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The Autocrat’s Language

The Autocrat’s Language | Writing & Reading | Scoop.it
Donald Trump has an instinct for doing violence to language. Using words to lie destroys language. Using words to cover up lies, however subtly, destroys language. Validating incomprehensible drivel with polite reaction also destroys language. This isn’t merely a question of the prestige of the writing art or the credibility of the journalistic trade: it is about the basic survival of the public sphere.
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The Wounded Healer: How one therapist uses therapy, self-care and mindfulness in her own eating disorder recovery. | Jodie Gale

The Wounded Healer: How one therapist uses therapy, self-care and mindfulness in her own eating disorder recovery. | Jodie Gale | Writing & Reading | Scoop.it
This post is by counsellor and psychotherapist Miranda Egan . Miranda is a Master’s Qualified Integrative Psychotherapist. She is passionate abou
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What if you are not the hero?

What if you are not the hero? | Writing & Reading | Scoop.it
It's family film night, kids choice.  We've had home made pizza and are nearing the end of Cats and Dogs, The Revenge of Kitty Galore.  The underdog um....dog who has been lifted from his life as a...
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How to Keep Writing When No One Gives a Shit

How to Keep Writing When No One Gives a Shit | Writing & Reading | Scoop.it
No one cares if I write.

No one’s waiting for me to publish my next essay. No one’s waiting for me
to overcome my low self-esteem or manage my depression and anxiety or move
through my fears or stop doubting myself or get a good night’s sleep and
drink enough water and caffeinate sufficiently to sit down and write. No
one was waiting for me to quit my day job when I did a few months ago, and
stop putting off what I most love to do and make the time in my life to do
it.

I don’t have an agent or an editor expecting the completion of my
manuscript, no publishers are wooing me with six-figure advances for a book
deal, and nothing I’ve written has ever gone viral. No one is compulsively
refreshing my website, checking for my next blog post to be published. I
don’t even have an article assignment or deadline at the moment.

I write pieces and send them out. Sometimes I will get rejections, which
are usually very gentle and non-personal—it wasn’t right for them, and
please submit again. Most of the time though, I never hear back at all. I
just send and send and send into the void.

Occasionally something I pitch will get accepted (hooray!). But wait—when
it’s published there are stats, an abundance of metrics to show me exactly
how little everyone cares. How few people open my newsletter, how low my
website traffic is, how small the engagement was for my latest Twitter or
Facebook post. All the data there to prove just how much no one cares.

I’ve been writing for a long time and I’m not famous or hugely successful
or even moderately well-known. Thirteen years ago I had my first article
published—a music profile in Interview Magazine. I brought a copy of that
issue to my chiropractor and she said, “I can just feel it, you’re about to
take off, like a rocket ship!”

I didn’t. But I kept writing. Through running out of money multiple times
and then taking day jobs each time so I could support myself, even though
those jobs often sapped my energy and depleted my spirit. So I’d write
less, but I didn’t stop.

It feels personal—that editors aren’t leaping to respond to my emails as
soon as they arrive in their inboxes, that millions of people aren’t
clicking on my stories and tweeting them and sharing them on Facebook.

It feels personal, but it’s not. When he received a MacArthur fellow
“genius” grant last fall, Ta-Nehisi Coates said in an interview with The
Guardian, “You can never be prepared for it, right. I’ve been doing this
basically for 20 years now, and the majority of your career you write and
nobody cares.”

It’s just what it is to be a writer—toiling away in obscurity most of the
time.

So how do you not give up, when you’re working so hard doing something you
care so deeply about, and it feels like no one else cares at all?

Have a greater purpose
Right after college I went to acting school, and as part of the curriculum,
I had to take modern dance class. The dance teacher told us that if we
wanted to be actors, we had to have a greater purpose; we could not just
strive for our own fame or we would burn out. She suggested doing 108 sun
salutations first thing every morning to connect with this higher cause.

Vigorous early morning yoga is not my thing. But I do think a lot about
being of service, and how my writing can benefit others. I have a strong
sense of what my mission is—to heal myself and others through my writing.
Sometimes I stray from this and it slips from the forefront of my mind,
because I also crave attention and recognition, and a not-small part of me
wants to be famous. So I have to go back again and again and again to this
sense of greater purpose to give me the strength, resilience, and hope to
keep going, even when all signs point to giving up.

Have a life
Being a writer feels like an essential part of who I am, and often like it
has to be the most important thing in my life. I have such a pressing need
to write that I could easily spend my days, nights, and weekends doing
almost only that, and in isolation.

Writing can be incredibly nourishing and energizing, but if I have nothing
else going for me than my writing, if all my attention is invested in
getting those acceptances and that validation from others, then the
rejections hit even harder. If I go to yoga and spend time with friends and
have a feeling of connection and community and of being “seen” in my life
as well as in my writing, then I can have some perspective when I’ve sent
out a slew of pitches and haven’t heard back about any of them, and not
crumble when an editor who was interested in publishing an article I wrote
and asked me to submit a revision has since ghosted me. Because if I have
other things that matter to me besides writing, those disappointments won’t
feel so crushing.

I don’t do this nearly enough—I frequently slip back into being
laser-focused on my writing at the expense of everything else. But I notice
that when I am connected to my life and other people in way that is
meaningful to me, my writing feels lighter and not so weighted down by
needing to make it work.

Don’t give up, because as bad as the rejection feels, not writing feels
worse
I could give up. I could say that I’m sick of all the rejection and I want
to do something else, something where I feel valued and appreciated.
Something where there’s more of a direct correlation between what I put in
and what I get out.

But as bad as the rejection and all the non-caring feels, not writing feels
worse. I have to tell my stories and share my experiences, or I get angry
and lethargic and depressed. Without writing, I feel powerless and like I
don’t have a voice, like my thoughts and feelings and experiences don’t
matter. I get frustrated when I’m sending out a piece that I love and it
isn’t getting accepted anywhere and I’m yearning for it to be published so
others can read it. I’d prefer if everything I wrote got accepted. But
regardless, the actual process of writing is soothing, healing, and
necessary for me to feel OK in the world. So I have to keep doing it.

Remember that somewhere, someone cares
When I’m feeling masochistic, I’ll toggle between my TinyLetter,
Squarespace, and bitly analytics, and these stats tell me that relatively
very few people give a shit about my writing.

But then I’ll get an email from someone who just found an article that I
wrote, maybe even years ago, telling me that it made them feel less alone
or more understood or gave them hope when they were feeling hopeless.

When you write something, you never know who it is going to affect, or how
it could help someone who’s struggling and feeling alone, or how in a low
moment in their life, desperately searching on Google for answers, they
will come upon your words when they need them most. And despite what our
culture will have us believe—that metrics and stats matter above all else,
that the number of clicks tells the whole story—somehow, in some
calculation, impacting one human being has got to be worth more than all
the unique page views and Shares and Likes in the world.
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Kate Braid, Room's 2016 CNF Contest Judge | Room Magazine

Kate Braid, Room's 2016 CNF Contest Judge | Room Magazine | Writing & Reading | Scoop.it
A great piece of CNF grabs me by the heart and the gut (is there a difference?) from the start and holds me tight to the end. It makes me laugh or cry or better, both.
elly's insight:

Creative nonfiction writing

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The 3 words that are guaranteed to make your writing better

The 3 words that are guaranteed to make your writing better | Writing & Reading | Scoop.it
This advice courtesy of Orson Welles.
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2016: the year in which...

2016: the year in which... | Writing & Reading | Scoop.it
I'm bucking the trend for year-end reflection, here.  Reader, this ain't no retrospective. I'm feeling purposeful: I've dealt with the ironing pile (small, but, oh, how I hate those cotton shirts that cling to their wrinkles...) I'm resisting the urge for a wardrobe purge (far too depressing) I'm feeling smug in the way that teetotallers/designated drivers can, on…
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19 Websites and Magazines That Want to Publish Your Personal Essays

19 Websites and Magazines That Want to Publish Your Personal Essays | Writing & Reading | Scoop.it
Not sure where to share a personal essay? Here’s your list of sites to target.
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Trudeau’s Win in Canada Tests the Notion that Good Economics Is Bad Politics

Trudeau’s Win in Canada Tests the Notion that Good Economics Is Bad Politics | Writing & Reading | Scoop.it
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“Angle of Repose”: A classic, rediscovered on audio

“Angle of Repose”: A classic, rediscovered on audio | Writing & Reading | Scoop.it
Our new audiobooks column debuts with Wallace Stegner's Pulitzer-winning novel, elevated by a brilliant narration
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The Case for Treating Gatsby as a Real Person - Facts So Romantic - Nautilus

The Case for Treating Gatsby as a Real Person - Facts So Romantic - Nautilus | Writing & Reading | Scoop.it
If we lean too much on the text itself, or the history surrounding it, and view with suspicion why people read, and what happens when…
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'I invoked cultural appropriation in the context of literature and writing only': Hal Niedzviecki

'I invoked cultural appropriation in the context of literature and writing only': Hal Niedzviecki | Writing & Reading | Scoop.it
Writer Hal Niedzviecki regrets using the term "cultural appropriation" in a recent column but says writers shouldn't limit themselves to what they know.
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Richard Adams and the Rabbit World of Literature

Richard Adams and the Rabbit World of Literature | Writing & Reading | Scoop.it
Richard Adams, the author of Watership Down  and other novels for children and adults, died on 24 December. He was 96 years old. I
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Ali Lock's curator insight, December 31, 2016 4:00 AM
One of my childhood favourites.
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The Scrapbook Life

The Scrapbook Life | Writing & Reading | Scoop.it
I had scrapbooks as a kid.  I liked to cut things up and stick them, it was fun and I have always liked a good project.  I still have a little book I made out of the cuttings of shows I had been in...
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'A woman disappears each day.' An interview with #WriterPrompt winner Kerry Hammerton.

'A woman disappears each day.' An interview with #WriterPrompt winner Kerry Hammerton. | Writing & Reading | Scoop.it
Restricted Area

I lick away the blood from the gash on my hand, press harder against the
barbed wire fence. Blood. Pain. They help me feel alive. Every day I stand
here, stare at the abandoned house. I turn and look over the camp. Smuts is
under the awning of his command tent. His head turning this way and that
way looking for something. Or someone.

'You would like to go there wouldn't you,' Smuts says when he catches us
looking at the house. 'Don't be stupid, you go there you die. You go past
the barbed wire fence you die.'

A woman disappears each day. I don't know if anyone else has noticed --
lethargy has descended. I know the heat is overwhelming but they must be
drugging us, keeping us docile until they take us somewhere else.

When I asked Smuts why there are only women in the camp, he said 'Don't be
stupid, all the men are fighting'. You should be fighting too, we all
should be fighting I wanted to say. Fear kept me quiet.

Smuts has found what he is looking for. He gets to his feet, lumbers across
the dusty field towards me.

Kerry Hammerton has published two volumes of poetry, These Are the Lies I
Told You and The Weather Report, and has had poems published in numerous
anthologies and magazines. She participated in and won SSDA's 8th
#WriterPrompt Event, Restricted Area.

 

In 2015 you spearheaded a social media project under the hashtags
#readwomen #womenwriters. Can you tell our followers about the project and
why you did it?

KERRY: I wanted to do something positive in Women’s Month [August is
Women's Month in South Africa] and I love reading and writing. The two
things combined in a project where I asked women writers (mainly South
African) to recommend a book by another woman writer. I blogged and
tweeted these posts almost daily – I had 28 recommendations. I hoped that
it would inspire people to read more women writers. My own to-read list has
also been extended! The idea was picked up by the Good Book Appreciation
Society (a Facebook book club) for their October newsletter – it has had a
longer life than just August which is wonderful. 

Having your poems published opens a poet up to a certain amount of exposure
and vulnerability. With poetry, there is an unpeeling of the inner self
that goes beyond what fiction writers generally experience. How did you
deal with the scrutiny of your inner self?

KERRY: Before my first collection was published I spent a lot of time in my
therapist’s office feeling anxious about that exposure – particularly
because I write some erotic poetry. After my collection was published I
realised that the people who know and care about me know that inner-self
anyway. They are the people who matter. What I write (even though it is
poetry) is just words and in no way defines who I am, or even who I want to
be. Once a poem is ‘out there’ it no longer belongs to the poet and people
will interpret it according to their own inner selves and moral code. That
has nothing to do with me – this has been very liberating.

You also co-authored Sugar Free, a non-fiction book about sugar addiction.
Why was writing a non-fiction book about sugar important to you?

KERRY: I am a sugar and carb addict. Through my own journey to health I
learnt a number of important things about my own eating disorder. I also
learnt a number of important tools and techniques to deal with my
addiction. I wanted to share those with other people. I met Karen Thomson
(co-author) through her sugar and carb addiction programme and suggested to
her that we write a book. One of the readers wrote to us and said ‘Thank
you. I realise for the first time that I am a sugar addict. I didn’t
understand my own behaviour. I thought that I was alone.’ That was really
powerful. The book has given individuals the language to talk about their
addiction as well as ideas on how to deal with it.

What drew you to participating in #WriterPrompt?

KERRY: I am currently completing an MA in Creative Writing through Rhodes
University in Grahamstown. The first part of the MA is devoted to course
work – we  wrote short stories, essays, drama, book reviews etc. It helped
me to understand that I can successfully write genres other than poetry and
non-fiction. The #WriterPrompt looked like a fun way to extend my writing
repertoire. The 200 word limit is very constraining but makes you think
about how to get a story across in as few words as possible. The idea of
getting feedback was also attractive.

Lastly, what are your future writing goals and hopes?

KERRY: I am currently completing my MA thesis – a collection of poetry. I
also have a few other ideas meandering around in my head but they will have
to restrain themselves until the thesis is complete. I would like to go on
a writers retreat / residency sometime in the next two years. To have
dedicated writing time and the luxury of support sounds like heaven!

On Kerry's Bedside Table

Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli. One of the books recommended during
the August #ReadWomen initiative. A story about a women writer living in
Mexico who reflects back on her life in New York when she was single and
childless. It also reveals her obsession with another poet. It is a spare,
delightful and complex read.

Word Warriors: 35 Women Leaders in the Spoken Word Revolution edited by
Alix Olson. If you want to understand what women (and who the women are) in
the hip-hop and spoken word field are writing this is the collection to
read. It is funny, feminist and very insightful.

My non-fiction read has been Masha Gessin’s The Man Without a Face: The
Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin. A scary look at how Russia started on the
path of democracy and how it was destroyed by Putin. Sobering. It has made
me very thankful for the democratic and judicial processes in South Africa.

Kerry Hammerton lives in Cape Town, South Africa. She has published poetry
in various South African and UK literary journals and anthologies, most
recently Hallelujah for 50ft Women (Bloodaxe Books 2015). Her debut poetry
collection These are the lies I told you (Modjaji) was published in 2010
and her second collection The Weather Report in 2014. She is also the
co-author of the self-help book Sugar Free (Jonathan Ball 2015).
www.kerryhammerton.com


Participate in #WriterPrompt by following Short Story Day Africa on
Facebook. 

Interview by Tiah Beautement
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Tania Writes: Short story talk...

Tania Writes: Short story talk... | Writing & Reading | Scoop.it

I've been asked to waffle on about short stories quite a lot recently, I thought I'd share it all with you - first, here are a blue-tinged me and Kirsty Logan at Fictions Of Every Kind in Leeds in November, [...]...

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Shadows & Reflections: Martha Sprackland

Shadows & Reflections: Martha Sprackland | Writing & Reading | Scoop.it
Caught by the River - an antidote to indifference.
elly's insight:

anxiety & nasturium-defiance

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Teri Vlassopoulos on writing personal relationships in non-fiction

Teri Vlassopoulos on writing personal relationships in non-fiction | Writing & Reading | Scoop.it
Teri Vlassopoulos on writing about best friends, fiction vs. non-fiction, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Elena Ferrante, Joan Didion, and telling secrets
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