Monday, May 30, 2011

Free Literary Stuff for the Summer

A Not-so-Mid-Summer Night's Activity
Last night some friends and I took in a great Shakespeare production. The kicker: it was free. As I contemplated the impressive set and production in general, it made me wonder what else is out there that we literature-lovers can enjoy no matter your budget.

Here are a few ideas; please share others!

Theatre | Keep an eye on the events calendars for your area. Many areas offer free community productions; you may be surprised at what you find, especially if your city has a nice park system. And if you have a college or university in town, you can sometimes find affordable dramas of various genres. A quick google will usually tell you if something is Christian-friendly.

Library Readings & Bookstore Events | We've mentioned on the blog several times the readings offered at libraries. The size of your city will affect the popularity of the writers you meet, but at any rate, what an interesting way to spend an evening. Likewise, your local bookstore will frequently host an author promoting his/her latest book. Yet another venue to hear from writers on the front lines making it happen.

Online Resources | How long has it been since you've set aside some time to research whatever you're writing about or interested in writing about? The word "research" sometimes scares us, but it can feed your writing interests and be fun when you find new articles, pictures, interviews, etc. on your subject. The internet offers a variety of impressive resources all from the comfort of your own home. On an Edith Wharton kick? See what's available online. For most classic writers you can find a website sponsored by a society devoted to that writer with tons of great resources.

Writing Groups & Book Clubs | Almost every city or town has a book club (or several) as well as writing groups. Have a special interest in a certain genre? There's probably a group just for you that is offered through your local library for free. Maybe joining would help you pursue your reading/writing goals?

Why not? I would argue despite the dumbing down of America, our culture generally gets the "why" of art. Whether through the rise of mass media or educational trends, this generation is familiar with art appreciation. I rarely have to "sell" Shakespeare when I teach World Literature. But suffice it to say, the arts broaden our horizons and enrich our experience.

For the writer, it's even more crucial to stay connected to literature. It keeps you committed to your craft and it recharges you mentally. And I submit that summer is a great time to recharge--even on a budget.

Recently Read: N.T. Wright's Simply Christian - an apologetic crafted in the vein of C.S. Lewis

Friday, May 27, 2011

Top 20 Literate US Cities

Amazon released an interesting list of the Top 20 Literate Cities in America.

The Top 5 are University cities, but after that it gets interesting, with major metro areas stealing the spots - though not as major as you might think. It's a fresh way to evaluate our country, that's for sure!

Eugene Peterson Article: In Print At Last!

Almost nothing on Earth feels better than finally seeing your article from month's ago appear in print (and on the web) with a nice check. That's the feeling I got to enjoy today!

I snagged the interview at Calvin College's Festival of Faith and Writingin April, 2010.
The next festival is April 19-21, 2012 and Marilynne Robinson (among others) has already agreed to attend. Don't even think about missing it!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Freelancing is Not Writing

The weird thing about freelancing your writing / editing skills is that even when you're freelancing, you're not actually writing because it's not what your heart yearns to write. Oh sure, you're typing out lovely sentences or remolding other people's efforts into shiny attractions, but it's not where your heart beats. It enhances your craft immensely (a must) and creates cash flow, but it's not your deepest calling.

For whatever reason, it's often difficult for me to switch from freelancing mode to deeper calling writing. I can zip out the emails, scribble down cool stuff the kid did, and create marketing materials at work while freelancing, but the undercurrents of hope and desire demand an immersion that often frightens me. This immersion demands an effort I may not be able to enact--so it's easier to choose lesser pursuits (or chase distractions) than to face it.

Maybe that's how everyone feels when standing nose-to-nose with their calling, but when you're alone with the laptop, there's no one to cheer you on. That's why reading author interviews, author biographies, literary journals, and writing books is essential for my well-being--it maintains my perspective.

This little "Best Advice" tidbit from Narrative Magazine is what is pushing me on at the moment:

“We were talking about our creative writing students at Stanford, when the poet Alan Shapiro told me, “The most important talent is the talent for work. Without that, nothing else much matters.” Over the years I have found that advice increasingly persuasive." - Ron Hansen

Not "quality work," not "immortal sentences," not "stunning characterization," but work.

Freelancing may not be writing, but maybe it isn't a waste either. Maybe it's what my life needs to add texture and humanity to my deeper calling. Maybe I just need to learn to live with the fear so that the work can accumulate into something greater.

Though I cannot glimpse its completion now, I must continue to compose it in faith.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Dead Authors Tweet!

But of course they do!

The Atlantic has a fun slide show on Flannery O'Conner, Charlotte Bronte, Shakespeare, Chaucer, and this gem from Mark Twain:

Typical tweet: If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati. Everything comes there ten years later.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Lost C.S. Lewis Revealed!

Turns out a partial translation of The Aenid by C.S. Lewis has surfaced! Since most felt like his exhaustive catalog was complete, this is an unexpected addition. Naturally, it's getting more than its fair share of scrutiny.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Great Writing Quote: Memoir

"Because everyone 'has' a memoir, we all have a stake in how such stories are told. For we do not, after all, simply have experience; we are entrusted with it. We must do something--make something--with it. A story, we sense, is the only possible habitation for the burden of our witnessing."

Patricia Hampl, "Red Sky in the Morning"
from Janet Burroway, Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft

P.S. I hope you enjoyed Lee Ann's interview with Kris Newman last week. Wasn't that great? I had to go look up her blog (of course), and now I've added it to my blogroll.

What are you reading and/or writing these days? Any must-reads to recommend for the summer?