Handwritten Manuscripts Get Analyzed

Although it’s very cool to see the handwriting of famous authors, I’m a little afraid of how mine would be analyzed. Mine probably most resembles Chuck Palahniuk’s, about which the handwriting analyst said:

“The crowded nature of Palahniuk’s lines suggest someone with “confused thinking” and a “poor organization of time and space,” who might even be “overly familiar”…inharmonious printing indicates a person who is fragmented in his thinking and has difficulty relating to others. He can be sharp and unfeeling in social interactions.”

Kind of makes me want to brush up on my penmanship.

My favorite handwriting of the group is probably David Foster Wallace’s:

I need to use more stickers in my writing.

(image: Flavorwire)

Like Having a Cool Lit Class Discussion via Youtube

Sometimes you see people online and think “Man, I wish we were friends in real life.” You think about all the awesome things you’d do and all the cool conversations you’d have. That’s kind of how I feel about the YA Subscription crew. Their discussions about YA literature are my new favorite thing. It’s like hanging out with very cool, very thoughful people who also love YA*. What more could you want?

Currently working through their videos on The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart. If you haven’t read the book yet, you really need to.

*Granted, I have a couple of groups like that in real life, so I shouldn’t complain. But the more, the merrier!

Links Galore

Lots of good links this week:

Links Galore

A few more links to get you through the day:

Links Galore

A few more links to close out Memorial Day:

  • The children’s literature world lost another wonderful voice this weekend. I didn’t know Peter D. Sieruta personally at all, but these posts about him are very moving.
  • Redivider, the literary journal I worked on in grad school, is celebrating their 10th anniversary with the Beacon Street Prize. Literary fiction and poetry writers, submit your work!
  • I think I need a writing treehouse (and other writing spaces).
  • Wellesley Books shares their picks for summer reads. (YA fans, see here.)
  • In other favorite local bookstore news, Brookline Booksmith is having a YA Debut Author panel on Saturday, June 2. Who’s going to join me?
  • Even more cool bookstore events: the New Dominion Bookshop in Charlottesville, VA is hosting an exhibit of two of my favorite photographers and their work for Beyond the Flavor.

Tips for Writing Conference Success

Great post at YA Highway about how to enjoy and get the most out of your conference experience. They have very helpful suggestions like “bring snacks” (I’d also add “bring mints” because they’re perfect for sharing) and “talk to agents like they’re human beings.” My favorite:

Be cognizant of other attendees. During workshops, try to ask questions that apply to other attendees – not only your specific book. During group pitch sessions, don’t talk about your project the whole time – let everyone else have a chance, too.”

This is my biggest pet peeve from any kind of Q&A session. If you need to preface it with a very specific story from your very particular experience, it might not be a worthwhile question to ask during a group session. If you really want to go into something specific, wait until after the session and ask in private.

A couple of other suggestions I have for conferences:

  • Only going to conferences that have specific draws for you. If you want to talk to a particular agent or hear a particular writer talk, that’s a good reason to go. Attending a conference just because you like books in general might not be worthwhile. There are a lot of conferences out there, and they can be expensive.
  • Don’t get conference burn-out. It can feel like you need to see absolutely everything, but it’s okay to skip a session and take a walk, call a friend, or nap.
  • Get pumped on the writerly energy and actually write. Maybe wake up a little early and work on that outline that’s been frustrating you, or try a new writing exercise.
  • Don’t take more free materials and books than will fit in your bag. Seriously. You probably won’t read all of them right now anyway.

And remember, conferences should be fun and energizing. You want to act like a professional, but writing is also a really awesome profession filled with lots of awesome people. Take advantage of being around a bunch of cool writers and readers all in one place. Ride that wave of literary enthusiasm!

Friday Fifteen

This week’s Friday Fifteen takes us into a long weekend–woohoo! Onto the reviews:

The Ringmaster’s Daughter by Jostein Gaarder
Per usual Gaarder, there are storytellers, philosophy, precious children, and a certain level of weirdness.

This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen
Small town romance meets music. Not my favorite Dessen, but fun.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
The Romantic period at its best and eeriest. Victor passes out a lot.

Logan Likes Mary Anne! (The Baby-sitters Club #10) by Ann M. Martin
Mary Anne manages to snag the cute new guy guy, giving hope to awkward preteens.

Let’s Go 2005 London by Let’s Go Inc.
My travel guide for summer study abroad. Didn’t lead me astray.

Lasting Fame and the Span of Time in the Universe

This New Yorker article looks at what makes a popular novel lasting and what makes famous writers fade into obscurity. If readers polled in 1929 couldn’t pick out who would be the leaders of the literary cannon in one hundred years, could contemporary readers do any better?

My question: does it matter?

We all think about fame and glory. My imaginings even veer into talents I don’t have. (Why yes, I will accept that Academy Award! And how awesome will it be when I will a gold medal in marathon running?) But I’m also reminded of Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, in which Mr. Ramsay thinks about how fleeting fame is:

“It is permissible even for a dying hero to think before he dies how men will speak of him hereafter. His fame lasts perhaps two thousand years. And what are two thousand years? (asked Mr Ramsay ironically, staring at the hedge). What, indeed, if you look from a mountain top down the long wastes of the ages? The very stone one kicks with one’s boot will outlast Shakespeare. His own little light would shine, not very brightly, for a year or two, and would then be merged in some bigger light, and that in a bigger still.”

I’m a big Woolf fan, and that part of To the Lighthouse has really stayed with me. Even famous writers who have seemed to withstand the test of time–Shakespeare, Chaucer, Sophocles–are blips when you think about the span of time of the planet or the universe. Even if people read your stories for thousands of years, that’s nothing to the span of time.

So why stress about who’s going to be popular or considered a genius in a thousand years, or even a hundred years? Shouldn’t the people who are reading your stories now matter more than the people who might be reading them in a thousand years? I think it’s more important to focus on the readers who are currently moved by your work–even if it’s just one person and that one person is your mom/spouse/best friend.

Again, I’m going to keep imagining accepting my Academy Award/gold medal/Nobel Prize. But I also think it’s good to focus on the readers you want to connect with now. If people read your books in a hundred years, that’s awesome. Just remember that lasting fame is meaningless. Even Shakespeare’s a blip.