Nathan Bransford, Author

Monday, November 21, 2016

The last week in books 11/21/16, plus a few words about politics

Photo by me. Follow me on Instagram! @NathanBransford
First up, thank you to everyone who weighed in on the two posts last week (here and here) about how authors should navigate politics on social media. The discussion was almost entirely wonderful and positive, even when people disagreed, which is not something I take for granted in this charged up day and age. I highly recommend checking out the two threads for some thoughtful discussion.

And now, a "fair warning" about this here blog that I am so very thankful you peruse from time to time

Over the last few weeks, I've been thinking almost nonstop about the election. About where we go from here, about what I can do, and about how we're going to navigate a world, and especially a social media world, where it seems like almost everything is political.

I have some ideas about all of this that I'd like to tease out, and especially because I have such a wonderfully positive and diverse group of people who read and comment on this blog, I'd like to use this as a test ground for some of those ideas. Basically I'd like to use this space as sandbox. Let's build some castles!

So... here's my fair warning to those of you who read and subscribe: this blog will no longer be an entirely politics-free space.

But here's my pledge to you:
  • I do not intend to turn this blog over to *only* politics. This will still primarily be a place where we talk about writing, reading, and all those things you've come to expect. This is not a bait and switch. Don't care about politics? Feel free to skip on past those posts.
  • When I do post about things related to politics, I do not intend to be strident or to be unwelcome to people who disagree with me. I want this to be a safe space for people of all views. 
  • In fact, if you want to thoughtfully disagree with me I WANT YOU HERE. Please stay. I want to learn from you.
  • Unless you're a jerk. Jerks of all stripes will be unwelcome.
I hope you'll stay for what's to come, but no hard feelings if it's not your cup of tea. 

Thoughts? Questions? Take to the comments section!

Now then. There were some solid books and writing links from the last week or two, and I still aim to give them to you:

People love them some old book smell. But what is that exactly? Electric Literature found a great infographic that explains it. Science!

People also love them some New York. (Oh, what's that you say? You don't love New York? Watch this.) Anyway, the Guardian had a list of the top 10 New York novels. How do you think they did?

I linked to this in my post on the end of truth, but in case you missed it, I highly recommend checking out Amanda Gefter's whole interview on the nature of consciousness.

Still surprised Trump won? The NY Times has a list of 6 books to read to help you understand it.

And if you're having trouble dealing with the election, the LA Times has a great recommendation: head to the library.

And if you're really really having trouble dealing with the election, YA author Ellen Hopkins has a message for you: we're not getting over it and we don't have to.

And if you're really really really having trouble dealing with the election, if may be of some small comfort to know that Octavia Butler totally saw it coming.

So is Bob Dylan actually going to show up to accept the Nobel Prize in Literature? Probably not.

In writing advice news, yours truly was featured in an interview with Kelly Q. Anderson, where I touched on such things as dealing with rejection (sometimes from the fetal position) and advice for embracing the right kind of fear.

One of the challenging things about editing-as-you can go is that while it can sometimes be helpful, it can also be an unproductive sinkhole of time that stops you from what you really need to be doing, which is charging forth. Writing Helping Writers has some ideas on how to navigate that.

In agent news, Jessica Faust talks about the advantage of an agent who really knows you.

And Penguin Random House has a roundup of 27 of the best books on writing. Which is great and all, but, um, Penguin Random House YOU FORGOT ONE.

Comment! of! the! week! There were so many good comments last week, thank you so much to everyone. For Comment of the Week I'm going with Alexandroid, who has a short but eloquent post on how empiricism is the answer to the fracturing of truth:
I think our only hope is to build a culture where people value evidence based arguments over conspiracy theories, where critical thinking and scientific method are taught and praised but speculations and poor fact checking are considered unethical and looked down upon. We will never be able to get objective truth but at least we can affect our common mindset and lens. We've done this before with things like valuing life, empathy and honesty, there is no reason we could not do it again as a society and civilization at large.
And finally, people of all political stripes have been longing lately to return to a more innocent time. In order to bring you back to some halcyon days, I give you... CNN's wonderfully ludicrous in-studio "hologram" effect during the 2008 election (email subscribers, please click "Read More" below to see):

Have a great week!


Shawn said...

WAITER! Check please.

abc said...

What is happening in this country is going to be too difficult to separate from everyday existence, including writing. Heck, I'm already considering how it is/will impact what I write next. This presidential election is making it hard to sleep, it's causing me more back tension than I already have, and (as a therapist) it informs many of the discussions I have been having with clients--even those who couldn't yet vote. It's in the water and the air and the food! So, yeah, write about some politics. I will feel thankful. I am thankful for John Oliver and Rachel Maddow and Stephen Colbert etc. etc. And with your voice added, even better. We shouldn't be quiet. And we should have these conversations.

Excellent comment of the week!

Jacqueline Howett said...

Thanks for the varied links. I'll check out a few more later.

I enjoyed your interview with Kelly Q. Anderson, and your answer to question 8.

Have a pleasant Thanksgiving, Nathan.

Craig said...

Morphing into a political oriented writing blog? I'm interested to see how you do that...

If it doesn't work out, you could always move to Canada... it's not that cold up here, honestly.

JOHN T. SHEA said...

Congratulations to Alexandroid for an excellent Comment of the Week. As for politics, I am reminded of the ancient Chinese curse 'May you live in interesting times!'. I wish the Donald was boring...

Mirka Breen said...

You're my cup-of-eggnog, Nathan. Perfect post, and wonderful links. (The last CNN one, alas, isn't on my feed. I like hilarity, so maybe you can fix it.)
Onwards, yes.

Francesca Coleman Carr said...

Congratulations to Alexandroid! Indeed an excellent comment. It's totally fine talking about politics since the somehow play important role in our lives. However, it should not stopped our lives. They might run the country but certainly not our lives. Talking politics though keeps us tracked with what's the reality we're living in.

Anonymous said...

Some interesting links, Nathan, thanks. But I'd like to reply to one: Octavia Butler totally DIDN'T see it coming. She was writing about Reagan. And the example of Reagan might give us a chance to cool some overheated imaginations right now. He was the horror of the liberals at the time... we came out of it OK.

Reine Marie said...

Thanks for the links. Check out this later. *Excited!

Whirlochre said...

Maybe as writers, we find ourselves walking to the edge of the world to tinker with some raw materials.

Plenty of times this past fortnight, I have heard more of my inner editor than usual.

Worse still, instead of commenting on my tinkerings in advance of syllables being strung together, she's even made suggestions out of the blue.

But I'm learning not to be distracted.

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