Write for the audience whose expectations you want to meet — not an imagined audience you’ve been taught is the standard.
That’s among the the top-level themes of Craft in the Real World, the 2021 book by celebrated fiction author and novelist Matthew Salesses. It challenges many norms of the American-style writer workshop that was largely first established at Iowa University, where the first Masters in Fine Arts writing program emerged. The book is rich with general criticism, tactical advice for modernizing writer workshops (many of which I’ve incorporated into my own) and even fresh looks at foundational elements of writing (ie. what exactly is plot?).
I introduced many of Matthew’s points on making a more effective writers workshop to my own workshop. I also appreciated his general contribution to our collective goals for great writing. I recommend the book to anyone in workshop or interested in writing process. Below I share my notes for me to return to in the future.
Develop your internal motivation. Focus. Be kind. Ignore the rest.
I read Neil Pasricha’s 2016 book The Happiness Equation as part of a pandemic-fatigue powered period of self-discovery. It certainly has its gimmicks and many of the concepts felt familiar to me. Still, I did appreciate the book and came away refocused on returning to being a happier person during such a tumultuous time.
Below I share a few of my notes from reading the book, though I recommend you buy a copy yourself.
I am not alone in welcoming the end of this chaotic and disruptive year.
I’ve been gifted enough perspective to be well aware of how fortunate I am. Still, I’m allowing myself to wallow in the enthusiasm I hold for the end of 2020. The feeling of closure around the end of year is purely psychological and it’s a feeling I enjoy every year. But, man, 2020 am I right?
Technically Media, the news organization I cofounded a decade ago, was honored back in November for its commitment to diversity.
It was unexpected — and may be one of the most important honors our organization has received. The praise came from Philly Startup Leaders, a respected nonprofit helmed by Kiera Smalls, during an event PSL organized with advocate Brigitte Daniel, who has known our work for a decade and spoke directly.
“Many of us would not even be in this room if not for Technically Media… “[They] brought us together. They have magnified our work. For a technically-orientated news site, this was never even heard of, never heard of to make an intentional effort to be inclusive.”
We were called for our diverse leadership team and and overall organization – gender parity, age range and racial diversity. It wasn’t empty praise, as we also do benefit by seeking the widest and most representative perspective.
In an unexpected collision of various interests of mine, a political celebrity came across and shared the music video of a family friend.
Northwest New Jersey school teacher and mother of two Lee-Ellen Pisauro has spent a few years now sharing her experiences and emotions — particularly related to her youngest son, who has Down’s Syndrome — through music. Picking up a few gigs in local bars, then national awareness walks, working with friends to produce a CD and, most recently, sharing a music video for a particularly personal song.
We’re not sure how just yet, but somehow that video came within ear shot of former Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin, who shared it with her followers on Facebook and Twitter.