I’m on vacation this week so I’m going to keep this week’s newsletter short. In the meantime, here are some of my favorite newsletters on writing.
1. Agents and Books by Kate McKean
Kate McKean, an agent and author, answers common questions about literary agents and publishing every other week. Many of the posts are evergreen and are great introductions to things like foreign rights and where to find agents. There are also “nuts and bolts” posts that go into super specific things like writing query letters for nonfiction. The paid subscription is worth it.
2. The Reading by Yanyi
A weekly creative writing advice column on subjects like writing authentically about your identity or balancing money and artistic practice. Each response is a reflective, thoughtful essay and I appreciate that the topics focus on both craft and different facets of the industry — how race, class, sexuality, geography, capitalism, etc. intersect with writing. In addition to responding to reader letters, he also hosts open discussions and Q&As every Wednesday, which are the most creative use of Substack discussion threads I’ve seen so far.
3. Deez Links by Delia Cai
A daily media newsletter containing one interesting link and Friday Q&As with people in the industry. I really like the format of short daily dispatches, smart commentary, and links to all kinds of writing: media gossip, essays, short stories, investigative pieces, literary and cultural criticism, etc. Some recent favorites: a comparison of different news organizations’ crowdsourcing initiatives and this interview with Safy-Hallan Farah who wrote the incredible essay All Alone in Their White Girl Pain.
- “The weirdest story ideas come from your own obsessions” by Kelly Link
- Francesco Pacifico on writing and rewriting his novel: “The industry makes us forget that we got here because we couldn’t make sense of things, we couldn’t just pick up whatever shared sense of reality we were taught in school, in church, on TV. We needed to create our own, detailed reality. But then the industry makes you hurry up and go ahead, eager for you to craft a career for yourself, instead of a history.”
- Free drawing and comics workshops from The Believer
- “An Elegy for the Landline in Literature” by Sophie Haigney
Recent reads & other media
I’ve been thinking a lot about Days of Distraction by Alexandra Chang, which follows a Chinese American woman who leaves her underpaid tech journalist job in San Francisco to move to Ithaca with her white boyfriend where he’s been accepted into a master’s program. It’s written as a series of interconnected vignettes — of the narrator’s past and present, of her archival research and newspaper clippings — that explore interracial relationships, consumerism and capitalism, immigration, family structures and secrets, and language and loss. After reading Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong earlier in the year, it’s fascinating to think about how Chang’s book explores similar ideas about shame and the “purgatorial position of being Asian American.”
As Chang states in this interview, the book is less plot and character-driven and more focused on how “growth and changes come in pieces.” The novel is more of an exploration of interconnected questions:
In our day-to-day lives we don’t necessarily have the time or the space or the courage to ask those questions. But one great thing about writing is that you have that time and space to explore the questions that you’re scared to ask.
I watched all of Succession which makes me laugh and cringe from the sheer ridiculousness and accuracy of its satire, like when Roman proposes that the future of media is “tasty morsels from groovy hubs.” I also watched Pride & Prejudice for the first time and am in awe of Matthew Macfadyen’s range as an angsty, brooding Darcy or a power-hungry, pathetic Tom Wambsgans.
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~ meme myself and i ~
Things you have to do. Stop asking questions during the movie. Start reverting back to your middle school fandom days. Stop buying notebooks. Start reading the whole ass article. Stop saying “alright I’m just going to go ahead and share my screen.” (Alternatively, you don’t have to do anything.)