Hello all! I’ve decided that I’m revamping this reading list section of my blog to be of more value to the readers. Previously I was collecting articles I resonated with and simply pulling quotes I liked. Now I am digging deeper, providing my thoughts in conjunction with takeaways + quotes because as creators, our goal is to really dissect what we’re absorbing and make value of it in our own lives.
I hope you’ll join me in this journey of introspection, connection, and commentary on what really matters. And please, feel free to catch up on the other weeks and leave comments as you see fit.
Welcome + thanks for being here!
Now for The Reading List August Week 1:
1. Why are millennials always tired? This super interesting article about our ‘sleep culture’ (and Post Malone’s “Always Tired” tattoo has really made me think about whether or not our busy, constantly moving lives are positive or negative.
The standout quote (regarding Post Malone’s tattoo and his response to why he got it, “anything to piss my mom off,” is actually pretty interesting):
“Post Malone’s insouciant attitude about his tattoo and the tattoo itself were roundly praised—or at least recognized as being representative of a larger cultural moment, one in which we all feel trapped in some hazy twilight, evocative of our teenage years, when the answer to everything feels like it could be found by burrowing under our covers; drifting off into some hazy twilight, before the darkness of adulthood descends…”
What does this say about us—millennials and otherwise—if we’re too damn tired to really live the lives we’re creating?
Another important section from the piece is the quote from singer Lana Del Ray, who says, “I wish I were dead already”—not necessarily in a morbid sense, but in the fact of being constantly tired or bored.
“…being bored is about saying that nothing is ever enough, whereas being tired is about saying everything is too much.”
This is an interesting contradiction. Nothing is ever enough, and yet everything is too much. I can relate. I always feel like I’m running, going, moving—it’s never enough!—and yet, it’s all so damn much.
You know what I mean?
2. I stumbled across this article on a homeless man living in Mountain View, California and was inspired by his story.
I live in a city where homelessness is a real problem. Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, I’ve always experienced homelessness, and been involved in the never-ending battle to help these people survive and find the help they need; however, what I struggle with the most in San Diego is the negative perceptions of these individuals.
On one hand, I completely understand the frustration of people who don’t want to support those with drug or alcohol problems who are more than willing to skate by, using government help, and not really work to better themselves. However, I fully acknowledge that this is a negative stereotype, as many homeless people do want to better their situations, they just lack the knowledge and resources to do so.
David Casarez’s story is all about taking action. Granted, he comes from what is clearly a middle class background — which is less of an apples to apples comparison — but what I found encouraging about his story is that he doesn’t give up. He goes above and beyond to really put himself out there. And when he does, hope comes.
I realize this story doesn’t translate across the board to every homeless person, as he has resources and career experience that clearly helped him to be successful, but it’s an encouraging reminder to each and every one of us. We have to keep moving, keep fighting, keep trying — even if and when we are in the lowest places in our lives.
3. The craft of writing is both beautiful and messy. I love stumbling across articles like this one that describe the art of writing as it is—both difficult and rewarding.
“Someone said to me once: At the end of the day, anything worth doing requires a certain amount of self-mutilation, and writing is no exception. Half-shuffled thoughts mean nothing without the proper weight—and pain and bruises and fractures—thrown behind them. Good stories should make shrines out of people, they said. Every word, an inch of intestine. Paragraphs hooked together with tendons, dialogue like innards spilling out all over the floor—One gets the idea.”
This author, Amy X. Wang, talks about writing as ‘self-mutilation.’ When we read that, it sounds so awful! But when you think about how, as writers, we completely dissect our lives and experiences for the purpose of the page, it’s actually pretty true. Is this a healthy, cathartic process? Or is it something that forces us to possibly relieve some of the most painful parts of our lives?
4. Something I find particularly interesting is when writers talk about how difficult the act of writing can be, or how challenging it is to be uninspired or face Writer’s Block. In this introspective piece by author Kimberly Bunker, she talks about how we fight moments of feeling ‘stuck’ in an intriguing stream of consciousness.
“My point which I am reaching ever so circuitously is that maybe I need to just start writing and stop giving in to the anxiety that it won’t be good enough, which is a constant fear which I will probably always live with, and is certainly detrimental to free-flowing, idea-fueled writing. If I give in to that fear, I might never write anything at all, so I’m not even giving it the chance to be interesting. The solution might be to just ignore the anxiety, and write.”
I’ve always said that Writer’s Block isn’t real, and that wasn’t meant to diminish anyone’s lack of inspiration, but to encourage people to step boldly into their words. Perhaps it’s not that we can’t but that we’re letting fear/anxiety win. Perhaps Bunker is right—the simple solution? To ignore what doesn’t serve you.
5. Something I’m trying to be more intentional about is reading content that doesn’t necessarily ‘relate’ to me or my personal life because i know it’s shaping me in to a well-rounded, tolerant, accepting, and open person. This week I came across this powerful piece on how transgender people choose their names.
What resonated with me the most was how people said the name “felt like home.” I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to not only redefine yourself and sexuality, but also identity, in both cultural and legal ways. These people shared their stories and it’s been really eye-opening to struggles I would never have known about.
6. How much value does place add to a story? In this speculative, informative essay by Marian Crotty, author of What Counts as Love, she explains how vital setting is. But is she right?
“What if the setting doesn’t matter? What if the point of the story is simply what happens, who it happens to? What if their intention was to write a story that could occur anywhere? They’ve read terrific published stories in which the setting is all but invisible, many more in which the place is vivid but unnamed, but my point is not that it is impossible to write a good story without knowing where it takes place but that I’m not sure why you’d want to.”
Crotty argues that having a setting will improve a story, especially for younger, less experienced writers. I personally use setting to drive my stories quite often, and yet, sometimes I think there’s value in moving away from setting as a focus, as it can make a story cliche.
7. This week I also read an article that was a follow-up on Kimberly and Kai, a mother and her transgender daughter.
You may remember their story from April 2017, but this article checks up on their family’s challenges, defeats, triumphs, and changes. It’s a powerful read, and reminder that love must always come first. (PS: I am not sharing this article on my reading list to ‘choose a side’ or start an argument, rather to share the power of resilience and create a space for each of us to think about how we can balance and create peace in a world that honors perspectives of others, as well as our own.)
Feel free to share any and all thoughts on this list below!
Featured Image Credit: Xavier Sotomayor