• Cage Match: Netflix vs. Lit Fix

    Posted Posted by Guest Writer in WBN News & Events     Comments 24 comments
    Nov
    22

    I don’t read enough. It shames me to admit it, but it’s true. After a full workday which consists largely of reading manuscripts, the thought of more reading at 11 p.m. is as unappealing as … well … writing. But that’s a shameful blog post for another time.

    It’s not that I never read. It’s that I don’t read as often as I’d like. How not often? Well, now you’re just being nosy. Let’s just say that, in the cage fight of my life, Netflix kicks reading’s ass 9 times out of 10.

    The two natural results of my end-of-the-day laziness are: 1.) the books I want to read don’t get read, and 2.) I feel like a hypocritical fool.

    “If you want to succeed at writing, you must read!” I scold WriteByNighters on a daily basis. Yet here I sit beside a pile of books that’s been here so long it has become furniture. This simply will not do.

    I won’t bore you with a complete list of reading’s various merits for a writer, but I will mention a few of the most necessary.

    Old Habits Die Hard

    All writers have bad habits—an affinity for exclamation points, for example, the overuse of adverbs, or the dreaded passive voice. Bad habits would be broken by Justine if she read widely, regularly, and voraciously!!! A writer’s awareness of these tendencies is often not enough to avoid them. We need to couple this awareness with working examples of prose that sings.

    Know What You Like

    We all have different styles. If we didn’t, how boring the library shelves would be. Developing your unique style and voice is key to succeeding in your literary pursuits, and you can’t know what you like—and what you don’t—if you refuse to expose yourself to options.

    Inspiration is Ready and Waiting

    When clients are having trouble putting pen to paper, I often suggest that they read for half-an-hour before sitting down to write. It puts you in a literary space, and makes room for ideas. Reading makes you want to write. Simple as that.

    If you’re still not convinced that reading is important to a writer’s development, let’s talk. If you’re on board, it’s time for the part of the post you weren’t expecting.

    Instead of being satisfied to complain about my literary shortcomings, I’m actually going to do something about it. Finally. Finally. Here’s what I propose:

    We come together, WriteByNighters, for a WBN-blog-based book club. For each round, a leader will be assigned. This leader will not only choose the book, but blog about his/her reactions, thoughts, opinions, ideas, etc. We’ll read and post in manageable chunks—a chapter or section per week—and fellow book club members will respond via the comments section below. In this way, we’ll help each other to read more and think critically about what we’re reading. Heck, these activities may even inform our writing. Huzzah!

    I’ll be happy—ecstatic, even—to lead the charge on the first round. I’ll even take book requests.

    So what do you think? Are you with me? Is this the coolest idea since sliced bread, or am I just plain crazy? I suspect the former, but will accept the latter. Please let me know below.

     

    WriteByNight owner Justine Tal Goldberg is an award-winning writer and editor of both fiction and nonfiction. Her short stories have appeared in Anomalous Press, Whiskey Island, Fringe Magazine, and other publications. Her journalistic work has appeared in Publishing Perspectives, Austin Monthly and the Texas Observer, among others. She holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from Emerson College.

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    Spectra

    I am SO down for this! I was just having this exact conversation! Netflix (and Anime) are taking over my life. I used to read ALL the time and now I don’t as much. I miss it. And would love to be part of a blog reading group! All depends on my schedule / how often we’d have to share our thoughts etc, oh, and the kinds of books we’d be reading! :)

    Simone Monique Barnes

    I am embarrassed at how many television episodes I have seen of late. Let’s do this!

    Leah Kaminsky

    I’d definitely be up for this. Most of the book club meetups I joined when I first moved to Austin are now defunct, and it’d be great to have a little more motivation again.

    I’m looking to read Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri or The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak, if you’re interested.

    Amanda

    First, I truly feel your pain. After a day of reading essays and grading papers that, the majority of the time, are written in the most rudimentary English, the LAST thing I want to do is read or write…unless it involves the latest “stories” on Facebook (my affliction). That said, I’m with you, because I’m returning to the U.S. in a couple of weeks and, before I attempt to write anything, need to “un-train” the weird English dialect I’ve developed over the past year as a way of communicating with people who only pseudo understand English. What better way to… Read more »

    Justine Tal Goldberg

    I am loving this enthusiasm! Thanks, all. Let’s give others a chance to chime in with interest, book suggestions, brilliant ideas, etc., then we’ll get round one rolling.

    We’re totally gonna get our lit fix. I’m jazzed.

    David Duhr

    Speaking of being jazzed, I’d nominate ToMo’s JAZZ for a future book club selection. Because, damn.

    Lisa Farwell Matthews

    I’m in…awesome idea!

    Justine Tal Goldberg

    Okay, WBN book club members. Here we go.

    As promised, I’m taking the lead on this first round. We’ll be reading “Pym” by Mat Johnson. (Those of you who suggested books, I encourage you to use those when you’re up at bat.) Round 1 will run January 1-31. I’ll be in touch via email with details and instructions. For now, all you need to do is 1.) get the book, and 2.) shoot your email addresses to Justine@writebynight.net.

    Thanks again for your interest, folks. I can’t wait to get started.

    Hi again, everyone. I haven’t heard from all of you with your email addresses, so we’ll use the WBN blog as our forum for now. January’s book choice is Mat Johnson’s “Pym.” The book is divided into four volumes, so we’ll read one volume per week as follows: Jan. 1-7: Volume I Jan. 8-14: Volume II Jan. 15-21: Volume III Jan. 22-28: Volume IV I’ll be publishing four discussion posts to coincide with each volume. Please be sure to subscribe to WBN’s blog via email (in the sidebar to the right) or RSS (in the “Follow Us” section below) so… Read more »

    Amanda

    Hi,
    I’m a little behind the program, but I’m still game with this…So I’ll get a hold of a copy of Pym and try to catch up ASAP!

    Laura Roberts

    Hey Justine, I really like this idea! (And I’m sorry I hadn’t heard about it sooner, since I’m not subscribed to the blog, for some silly reason.) I will volunteer to lead one of the sections, in the future, although I haven’t picked up a copy of Pym yet, so maybe for next month? I recently read “We the Animals,” which was excellent and short, which is great for people who don’t have lots of time to read, as you lament. Maybe we could talk about that?

    Justine Tal Goldberg

    We can absolutely talk about that. I read “We the Animals” and loved it. Such a beautiful little book.

    Now subscribe to our blog, please!

    […] not least, if you’re not yet a book club member and would like to be, it’s not too late to jump on the bandwagon. Simply use the comments section below to express interest, and either dive into Pym now or join us […]

    […] not least, if you’re not yet a book club member and would like to be, it’s not too late to jump on the bandwagon. Simply use the comments section below to express interest, and join us for next month’s pick: […]

    Jose Skinner

    OK, I’m gonna try to do this, as I’ve been wanting to read this Eugenides book.

    Justine Tal Goldberg

    Glad to have you, Jose! Our Eugenides reading/discussion schedule is posted at https://www.writebynight.net/wbn-book-club/pym-volume-4/.

    Isabel Caloprato

    If you know more about the validity or lack thereof of the Kafka claim, by all means chime in in the comments.

    Jose Skinner

    OK, great–I’ve read first two chapters of the Eugenides, so I am READY.

    Justine Tal Goldberg

    Super! Our first discussion post will publish early Tuesday morning. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts, Jose.

    […] you’re not yet a book club member and would like to be, it’s not too late to jump on the bandwagon. Simply use the comments section below to express interest and join us on our next […]

    […] too late to join in on the conversation. Grab a copy of this month’s book to catch up, or leave a comment here expressing your interest in joining us for future discussion. […]

    […] week we’ll be discussing Dagoberto Gilb’s short story “Uncle Rock” for the WriteByNight Online Book Club. One little short story, 2,700 words. Do it! And join the discussion next Tuesday, here on our […]

    […] week we’ll be discussing Dagoberto Gilb’s short story “Uncle Rock” for the WriteByNight Online Book Club. One little short story, 2,700 words. Do it! And join the discussion next Tuesday, here on our […]

    […] not least, if you’re not yet a book club member and would like to be, it’s not too late to jump on the bandwagon. Simply use the comments section below to express interest, and either dive into Pym now or join us […]




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