The NW #4
Here are some things I came across this week that I thought you might enjoy:
1) I made you guys a mini-zine based on my favorite writing quote from Ray Bradbury: Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Check out a little video showing it off here. I’m giving away a copy to everyone who supports Ninja Writers on Patreon by Monday (that’s tomorrow!)
2) This video of Brandon Sanderson writing a chapter of his book Words of Radiance, sped up to high speed, is enthralling. I love this quote from Sanderson about books: “Novels aren’t just happy escapes; they are slivers of people’s souls, nailed to the pages, dripping ink from veins of wood pulp. Reading the right one at the right time can make all the difference.”
3) Here’s some advice from Ray Bradbury on how to develop a story idea using a list of nouns. It includes his list for Something Wicked This Way Comes. The advice comes from Mr. Bradbury’s book Zen in the Art of Writing. If you’re building a writing craft library, this should absolutely be part of it. I’m reading it for the fifth or sixth time this semester for my MFA residency.
4) It was a good week for movies! We saw Silence this week. It was gorgeous and thought provoking and very, very good. A definite must see. We also saw Split, which is fantastic if you want to see how a single scene at the end of a story can change everything. Overall, it was campy and fun and ultra creepy. And we saw Hidden Figures, which was spectacular. I’ve been to movies where the audience claps at the end, but this was the first I’ve experienced where people applauded all the way through.
5) I watched Hidden Figures with my 12-year-old daughter who has dreams of being an engineer and she was so inspired. The movie is a based on this book by Margot Lee Shetterly. Ruby and I are going to read it together.
6) I found this article about how M. Night Shyamalan made Split on a small budget (everything’s relative of course, small budget for a movie is a ton of money.) “I’m super enjoying myself. Even if it’s in my own head — and it just might be in my own head — the feeling of freedom, the feeling I can do anything I want, the feeling that I can be as quirky or irreverent, or crazy as my imagination.”
7) Last week I read A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic by Lisa Papademetriou and Drown by Junot Diaz. They couldn’t be more different from each other, but I enjoyed them both. Papademetriou’s book is a funny, sweet middle grade story and Diaz’s is a dark, literary book of connected short stories that grabbed me and would not let me go until I was finished with them. I have to read 10 books a month for my MFA — so drop me your recommendations in a reply to this email!
8) I got an Instant Pot for Christmas and it is my new favorite thing. Seriously. You might be wondering — what in the world does this have to do with writing? If you’re in charge of feeding people (even yourself) then you know that dinner takes an unreasonable amount of the one commodity we need more than any other if we’re going to write long form: TIME. I made pork and brown rice in my Instant Pot this week in 25 minutes — with frozen pork — five minutes after I decided to make it. That meal would normally take me an hour to make. Guess what I did with the other 35 minutes? Instant Pot = time to write = YES.
9) I’m writing short fiction for the first in forever. I’ve been enjoying the Submittable newsletter for ideas about publishing short stories.
10.) I’ve been thinking a lot about giving my fiction away. I read this article by Cory Doctorow that really hit home. I also read this one by Jeff Goins, which isn’t about a novel, but still had some good insight. (Deep breath.) I have a novel coming out from a tiny indie press in April — a YA thriller called Wasted. I’m going to give the ebook away to all of you and then follow my 2017 motto: just see what happens.
P.S. Here’s my favorite line from that Doctorow article. He’s responding to a fear that many writers have: that ebooks will completely overrun print books. “Most people aren’t and will never be readers–but the people who are readers will be readers forever, and they are positively pervy for paper.”
Shaunta Grimes is a writer and teacher. She lives in Reno with her husband, three superstar kids, and a yellow rescue dog named Maybelline Scout. She’s on Twitter @shauntagrimes, is the author of Viral Nation and Rebel Nation, and is the original Ninja Writer.