Clippings 28: Reading, writing, and other dreams

My day job has me online all day writing, so I’m finding it hard to keep up with the blogging and reviewing on my own time. Usually by the time I get home, I just want to garden and read and cycle with my husband. So I apologize for the long breaks between posts here. But I’m still reading and thinking; here are a few of the most recent topics on my mind:

The Rumpus tipped me off about a new book that argues that reading fiction changes your personality. “For a long time we’ve been talking about the benefits of reading with respect to vocabulary, literacy, and these such things. We’re now beginning to see that there’s a much broader impact,” says the book’s author, Keith Oatley, reseacher at the University of Toronto. The argument is that fiction influences readers in the way it simulates social worlds. This may be obvious, but Oatley is one of the first to examine the empirical evidence. Such Stuff as Dreams: The Psychology of Fiction released today. For more, read the short write-up at The Rumpus or visit the On Fiction blog, to which Oatley is a contributor.

Anne Allen’s blog has a helpful history and some analysis of changes in the publishing industry over the last few years. Her intended audience is writers, but I think a lot of readers will find it interesting, too. I haven’t commented much here or elsewhere on this discussion, I guess because I’m still waiting to see what happens. In my non-fiction career, I’ve worked only with small traditional publishers. Going forward, a contract with one of the big houses wouldn’t be a disappointment, obviously, but I’d like to publish both fiction and non-fiction with some of the great indie houses, those that focus on craft and author relationships and know how to leverage social for marketing and don’t let their lesser-known status stop them from prize nominations, etc. But my verdict on self-publishing is still out. I appreciate what it is doing collectively to break down genre barriers, level the playing field, remind the big pubs that what the reading public cares about is great literature and not their corporate profits…but I am also concerned that we’re encouraging people who haven’t done the hard work of honing their skills enough yet that they’re ready for others to read their work. So I think the system needs to include more peer review and other quality standards. Anyway, Anne’s post is a helpful summary of recent developments for anyone with an interest.

Speaking of trying to get published, any fellow writers feeling rejected? A friend on Google+ pointed me to this rejection wiki. Post your rejection letter and find out if you got a standard rejection or one with a little more reason to keep hoping. Use at your own risk!

Finally, a podcast recommendation. If you aren’t listening to Radiolab, you don’t know what you’re missing! Great stories on a variety of really interesting topics (like the pace of individual cities, why we can’t get certain music out of our heads, and yes, dreaming), and very well produced. Their blog will gave you a taste.

Your thoughts on any of the above?

15. August 2011 by Mindy
Categories: Clippings | 2 comments

Comments (2)

  1. As far as self publishing, here’s what bothers me. I’ve read many, many self published books (to judge contests) and there are some that surely could have been traditionally published if the writer would have gone the extra mile in writing, editing, proofreading and so forth. Self publishing, I think, causes too many writers to stop the writing process too soon, to hurry along to the publishing process.

  2. I agree, Kelly. I think it appeals to our instant gratification impulse, like so many other things do. There is great value in taking the time to let art come to fruition, but it takes a lot of self discipline.