I am one of those writers that absolutely must have music playing to write. The rare exception to this rule is when I am so far into the zone I probably wouldn't notice if a parade was going by the my writing table. I think my need for music is probably connected to my habit of writing in coffee shops. I need to plug something into my ears to block out all the hubbub around me -- the very hubbub that is ironically the very reason I like to write in coffee shops. I NEVER claimed to be a creature of logic, so just go with it.
While some of my favorite artists to write to a more mainstream, I tend to be drawn to indie folk/rock singer/songwriters and so my writing soundtrack often tends to be made up of really awesome people that the general music listening public has not always heard of. So, in no particular order, some really awesome music that helps me get into that writing groove. This is in no way a complete list and my current faves tend to evolve based on the particular writing project I am focusing on. (Click on any of the names to be taken to their websites.)
Not listed above is Tegan and Sara because I really couldn't decide on just one song and I thought it would probably be going a little overboard to list every song they'd every released. So, if you are not familiar with them, and you should be, because they are awesome, go check them out. They are really great to write angsty YA fiction to. Just sayin'.
So what do you find yourself listening to as you write? I'm always looking for awesome artists to add to my writing music playlist.
Since I was gifted an e-reader late last year, my purchase of paper books has significantly decreased in favor of the convenience and instant gratification of e-books. However, as a writer I've been making more of an effort do the following:
1. Support my favorite local indie bookshops.
2. Support literary magazines.
3. Read more literary magazines I'd like to see my work in.
Lately whenever I have made a purchase with one of the above three goals in mind, that purchase has ended up on my nightstand. While I love the convenience of my e-reader, I have definitely missed actual books and find myself reaching for something with real pages before falling asleep at night or on those rare, but delicious mornings when I am free to lay in bed and read away the hours. I've managed to put together a nice little stack of reading material and I thought I'd share it with you lovely folks today and find out what your bedside reading entails.
In the above pic, starting at the top and working around clockwise we have Artiface, Writing in an Age of Silence, Curbside Splendor, The Offbeat, Hobart, and Fifth Wednesday Journal.
1. Artiface -- I mentioned this little lit mag in my last post, but as it ended up on the nightstand and I've been spending a lot of time flipping through it, I thought it deserved another mention. I love the simple aesthetic of this journal and unpredictable poetic whimsy of its content. This reading material has been great for me as I have been going through an experimental phase with my own writing.
2. Writing in an Age of Silence by Sara Paretsky -- I picked this up for a couple different reasons. For those who don't know Paretsky's work, she is a mystery writer. She also grew up in Kansas, went to KU and happened to live in the same scholarship hall I lived in during my undergrad a few decades later. She eventually ended up in Chicago, and since we share some of the same stops on our life journeys, when I randomly came across her memoir, I picked it up expecting to read her life story. Instead, what I've found so far is a series of brilliantly insightful essays on her view of the world. I've really been enjoying this book so far.
3. Curbside Splendor -- I haven't dived into this one yet, but it is a new local lit mag that is chocked full of fiction, poetry and photos. It is a sleek looking little book and I love discovering new local journals.
4. The Offbeat -- I confess, I picked this up solely based off the cover photo. So far I've really enjoyed the writing I have read in here so far, though I haven't spent much time with this one yet.
5. Hobart -- Always a favorite journal of mine. I was lucky enough to get one of my flash fiction pieces in the online version of Hobart a few years ago, but I would love to get a full length story in their print edition, so I picked up their Great Outdoors themed issue. As usual, their editors have impeccable taste.
6. Fifth Wednesday Journal -- In 2008, Fifth Wednesday accepted one of my stories. This would have been fantastic -- if I hadn't withdrawn the story from their consideration months before because it had been accepted elsewhere. Since then, my quest to get another story accepted there has been futile, so I picked up their newest issue in an effort to brush up on their aesthetic.
So that's what on my nightstand. What's on yours?
Photo by Carlos Porto
For me and my fellow Americans, today is the day we celebrate the success of our forefathers' rebellion against England. Many Americans do this by eating and drinking too much and then trying to blow stuff up. It is good to be American!
While I can definitely get on board with some good food and friends, which I did this past Saturday, today I plan to celebrate by doing what I strive to do every other day of the year: write.
I'm lucky I live in a country where I have the freedom to write whatever I want and with a little persistence, even find a place to publish it. Or I can just publish it myself.
All that aside though, the mere act of writing is true independence for me. Writing gives us the freedom to do absolutely anything we want. We can travel to worlds that don't even exist, have conversations with people who have been dead for centuries. . . we can even get away with murder! And there are no rules for writing! None whatsoever! Sure, we can talk about "rules for writing", but when it comes right down to it, breaking those rules often leads to innovative and fascinating work.
I picked up a literary magazine last night at a local bookstore. The lit mag is called Artiface and while I'd heard of it before via Duotrope Digest, this was the first time I'd seen a print copy for sale. I bought it, and then proceeded to entertain my sweetie by reading stories aloud to him while we waited for the bus home. It was full of very short fiction and prose poems that often made no sense to me, but yet the lyrical quality and whimsical nature of the writing made it fascinating to me. Here was a group of writers who broke all the rules that I normally try to follow and were being celebrated together in one lovely little book. Reading their work inspired me to take advantage of my literary freedom and break a few of the rules. I plan to spend part of my Independence Day challenging myself to write something as lyrical and whimsical as the stories I read in Artiface. And that is just one example of why being a writer is true freedom.
Happy Independence Day and Happy Writing!
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