Tag: writing

The Marginalia Controversy

What a topic. People will get MAD about this, but they’re all wrong. Only I’m right, so listen to me. Don’t tell me where you land. People I very nearly respect believe in writing in books. But let’s actually talk about this, book lover to book lover.

Marginalia used to mean really crazy drawings around hand illuminated passages from really crazy books. And all those snails. Look it up, what weird stuff.

Image via Twitter

 

Me either, medieval knight. These days, margin notes are mostly something students do to try and avoid losing their minds. And maybe pass some tests/write some essays. I know very few people who DON’T write in their books. Some of them underline on the subway. It’s horrifying to see. The lines are so inconsistent. Half of the quote is always crossed out. It’s a horror movie. I don’t have photos. I try not to even look. But here’s an example of some notes that are still better.

Image via Columbia University Libraries Blog

 

At least these are color coded, though that one crossed out quote makes my blood run cold. It’s a mess. different sizes of notes, undecipherable handwriting, a ton of stuff is covered, but does that mean margin notes are bad? Yes! They’re always bad! Listen. Past me didn’t know anything. And past you didn’t either! If I don’t like the book I’ll give it away, and that’s just rude. If I do like it, why would I want it written on forever? When I read that book, if it was for school, I definitely hadn’t slept. The writing probably IS messy. I probably DID write it on the subway. Also, most of my notes probably aren’t interesting, aren’t smart, and don’t make any sense.

Image result for book with margin notes
Image via Entropy

 

An actual photo of my hypothetical margin notes. I joke! Who would just use red? But my point is, I would want to throw this away the SECOND I finished the essay. And you should never throw away books. Recycle them! I’m joking. Please don’t do that either. But if I take notes on another page, or on a post-it? They’re GONE. I never, ever have to see what I thought about Hamlet when I was a freshman.

Image result for book with pencil margin notes
Image via Research Teacher

 

I’ve been talking about margin notes you can never get rid of, in pen, but pencil is SO much worse. It’s worse! It’s messier, it’ll smudge like crazy, they can’t be color coded, and are they really erasable? Consider it. Maybe you’ve got a good eraser, and you’re going to be careful, but you’ll have swathes of fuzzy, muted text, with the inscrutable indents where the writing used to be. It’s time consuming and ridiculous, and it makes me angry.

Image result for book margin notes post its
Image via Colleen’s Blog

 

Notes should always be on tabs. Always! There are so many benefits. How do you know where your margin notes are? How do you know? Just flip through every single page until you see something smart? If you write on a sticker, you can leave it poking out. Want to pull a quote? Just check all the tabs you left above good pull quotes. You’re organized. You’re in and out. Color code. Live your best life. Just don’t write in books.

Image result for tabbed books
Image via Books Are Friends, Not Food

 

 

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Featured image via Let’s Do

NaNoWriMo Is Over… Now What?

With the month of November drawn to a close, so too does NaNoWriMo end. NaNoWriMo, for those who might not be familiar, is the month-long writing challenge that pushes writers to write 50,000 words in thirty days. For some, this is a good way to help crank out first drafts of projects. For others, the act of writing so much is exhausting and it will only end in burnout. This challenge is not made simpler by the fact that November is by no means an easy month. For students, this month means working on final papers for class or preparing for exams. For folks working in retail or any position that is holiday sensitive, this is an extremely stressful time of year as well. If you are both a student and an employee, it gets even more difficult. If you happen to be a parent, a student, an employee, and anything else, NaNoWriMo becomes a serious task and commitment to take on.

 

 

All the same, that doesn’t mean that NaNos can’t keep pushing onward and continue working on their projects.

 

So where do NaNos go from here?

 

Well, there are several directions that NaNos can take after November ends. NaNoWriMo was originally meant to help writers create first drafts for projects that they would like to pursue for the remainder of the year. For the writers who completed their drafts, the months following NaNoWriMo are meant typically intended for rewriting, revising, and reworking their current projects. The hardest part for some writers, after all, is getting words onto the page, and that is why NaNoWriMo encourages the idea of writing with abandon. So now that these writers have made it to 50,000 and completed their stories, now is the time to review and revise and decide where to go from there.

 

 

BUt what about the writers who didn’t finish their drafts?

 

Image via yale herald

 

Just because a NaNo didn’t complete her project doesn’t mean that she can’t opt to start a new draft or begin to edit what she already has. It isn’t uncommon for a draft to not be completed prior to a writer beginning another. It also isn’t uncommon to edit as one works on their story either. Writer Zadie Smith edits as she works on her stories, so it isn’t unheard of to take what one currently has and edit it as it is. For some NaNos, that might be exactly what they need to do. One of my dear friends started a project this past November, and she decided that she didn’t like the direction that the story was going. She knows that now, and she can now begin the process of reworking her draft when she feels ready. She can either edit what she has, or she can start anew. Regardless, she knows what things to avoid when she begins her new draft.

 

 

Regardless, this is a time to consider where your story is going and if any changes need to take place

 

Image via hbs digital initiative – harvard business school

 

The end of November is the prime time to review what one has written and consider the direction that one would like to take from there. Do you like where your story went? Or would you rather the plot go another way? Maybe you found out that a character that you thought would be extremely insignificant would make an amazing protagonist and a new point of view to follow. Based on that, you can choose to restructure your story in a way that appeals to you more than it may have originally. Perhaps these decisions will lend a new level of complexity to your narrative, and in doing so, it will help you craft a story that is more well-rounded. This is the ideal time to sit back and ruminate on your story and make a plan of action (if you are a planner when it comes to writing).

 

 

Remember: it is okay to set a story aside

 

image via youworkforthem

 

NaNoWriMo is really good for writers (like me) who have a hard time finishing the projects that they start. We have a clear goal in mind and a month-long window set to complete it. However, I will be the person to say that you, as a writer, will probably not finish every story you start. And that is okay. You might get halfway through your idea and realize that it has no foreseeable end. You might realize that this project doesn’t make you happy. You might have another more promising idea grab you by the wrists.

That’s okay.

Just because you opt to not complete a project doesn’t mean that you have failed. In her book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, writer Elizabeth Gilbert tells her readers that there are going to be stories and projects that they start that will never be finished, and that is okay. 

Does this mean that you, as a writer, should abandon every project you start? Absolutely not. This also doesn’t mean that you can’t take these early ideas and incorporate them into another story later on. What it does mean is that you have permission to put an idea on hold or, again, recognize when a story isn’t going anywhere.

 

 

The most important thing is to keep writing

 

image via Scripps college

 

Your work is important. Your ideas are important. You may have no plans of ever sharing either with another soul. You might want to get it published. What matters is that you keep writing. The NaNoWriMo website isn’t only available during November, after all: you can create a new goal and use the same interface to work towards it in the coming months. Ultimately, you should take what you learned from this last month and make something of it. That doesn’t mean take the same project that you had for this year and run with it, especially if you realized that you didn’t enjoy working on it, but it does mean sit back and consider what you liked about the process and what you disliked. What would you change? What worked best for you? Now that you have a better feel of things: keep writing.

And don’t forget: Camp NaNo takes place twice a year (during the months of April and July). So if your November was hectic, maybe Camp NaNo will be a better alternative? After all, you get to choose your writing goal during these months, so you aren’t beholden to the 50,000 words that NaNoWriMo challenges you to reach.

It doesn’t matter if you another month or if you another five years to complete a project: keep writing.

 

Featured Image Via the Irish Times

 


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5 Quotes To Help You Kick Your NaNoWriMo Slump

With the month winding down and NaNoWriMo writers working to reach their respective 50,000 word goals, it should come as no surprise that many of these NaNo participants are experiencing a writer’s slump. Some of these individuals might be dealing with deadlines that relate to school, or perhaps work is taking its toll as the holidays fast approach. Or maybe it’s just good old fashioned writer’s block — the scourge of all writers.

Regardless, this is the time of the month where NaNo writers are confronted by their exhaustion, and they have to make the choice to keep working towards their goals or to call it good for the year. To keep you going, here are five quotes from writers to encourage you to keep working on your NaNo project.

1. “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison

Image via Film at Lincoln center

Toni Morrison, author of Beloved and The Bluest Eye, is a Nobel Prize recipient and the writer of more than ten books.

 

2. “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” – Sir Terry Pratchett

Image via Britannica.com

While alive, Terry Pratchett wrote over 40 books. His impressive bibliography includes titles like Good Omens (co-written with Neil Gaiman) and the Discworld series.

 

3. “Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now.” – Annie dillard

image via the Nation

Annie Dillard is a Pulitzer Prize winner and the writer of books like The Writing Life and Living By Fiction. She has dabbled in multiple literary styles– everything from poetry to prose, and from fiction to nonfiction.

 

4. “It’s such a confidence trick, writing a novel. The main person you have to trick into confidence is yourself.” – Zadie Smith

image via Brain Pickings

Zadie Smith has been listed on Granta’s 20 Best Young British Novelists on two separate occasions. She is a recipient of the Orange Prize for Fiction award and a member of the Royal Society of Literature. She wrote the novels White Teeth and On Beauty.

 

5. “Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower, and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

image via Nbc News

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has been rewarded the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the Hurston/Wright Legacy award, and the Orange Prize. She wrote the novels Americanah and Half of A Yellow Sun

Featured Image Via Pinterest

 

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Seven Words Shakespeare Invented

Did you know Shakespeare invented more than 1700 words? Probably. Maybe. There’s a bunch of controversy. Still, he definitely invented some words we use every day. You can probably find the long list if you really want, but here are seven. You may sense a theme.

 

 

1. Countless

Image via Astronomy.com

 

This is a pretty pedestrian word. Obviously Shakespeare didn’t invent the idea of counting, but he did give us a useful way to talk about it. It’s definitely faster than saying ‘without measure’.

 

2. Gloomy

Image via Imagekind

 

What would we do without the word gloomy? No synonym comes close. Dark? Shadowy? Get out of here. In this, the gloomiest season, it’s only right we honor the word itself.

 

 

3. Critic

Image via The List

 

Where would we be without critics? How would we know what super hero movies are actually worth the trouble? In 2019, it’s hard, and I say that as a fan.

 

 

4. Bloody

Image via The Craftory

 

Another one that’s hella seasonably appropriate. Another one where there are no good synonyms, though I feel like if you want to convey it there are some fun gothic options.

 

 

5. Pious

Image via Flickr

 

This one’s got ‘devout’ but pious does have a different vibe, maybe more smugness? Whatever it is, you can never have too many synonyms. Words, words, words.

 

 

6. Lonely

Image via Cru

 

Whatever would we do without lonely? Loneliness, lonesome, just a lot of feeling in a small space. Shakespeare knew what was up, though it doesn’t seem like HE was ever alone.

 

 

7. Majestic

Image via Reddit

 

Majestic is a great word, for both serious and ironic usage (a lot of the images I found were derpy lions and unlikely centaurs). It conveys something ‘great’ just doesn’t.

 

 

 

Featured image via ThoughtCo