When Worlds Collide: Writing, Art, Academe, and the Story at the Heart of It All

Writers, in 5x5 Format

Writers in Plain Sight

The plan to rekindle my writing flame proceeds apace. I’m returning to writing and reading more steadily, with all the concomitant gains you’d expect. I downloaded Scrivener, am using it in turn with Dragon Naturally Speaking for dictation, or Sound Pilot (Smith-Corona scheme) when typing, or I’m writing by hand. I’ve had one co-written short story sale, I have another story in progress, and I’m getting the first chapter of Knife Fighting with Mondrian into shape, a novel I prematurely abandoned last year. And last night I finally re-hung my inspiration board, which has been sitting in a corner for far too long.

A funny thing happened, though, between now and my writerly productivity peak of a few years ago. When I got into the visual arts, I kept making analogies to writing, thinking about how one affected the other, etc.. All that time, however, I still thought of each as one thing affecting another. This is pretty much in keeping with how my life has often gone: on parallel tracks only occasionally overlapping.

Lately, I see story everywhere. It’s tempting to think this is part of the leveling-up process of writing, and that it’s an aspect of my personal teleology, but whether or no, I think it’s accurate to say that I’m thinking about story more than I have at any other time in my life. Not just plots for stories or scraps of prose running through my head (they’re still there), but everywhere I look, ties that feed into narrative. Different parts of my life seem to be usefully intersecting in ways that they didn’t previously. I’ve written about why librarians should write, and I’ve written about how librarianship informs my thinking about SF, but this seems to be a new strain of intermingling.

As such, I’ve added the category “whenworldscollide” to my blog. I may have more to write about this down the road, but for instance:

  • Back in February I attended the College Art Association conference in Chicago in order to co-present a poster. I attended an excellent panel there about finding common ground among museums, artists, and art historians, and many of the speakers framed their experience in terms of the overall story of the institution.
  • A couple weeks back, a symposium on the digital humanities was held by my university’s interdisciplinary program in media, art, and text. One of the presenters, Amanda Phillips, spoke about teaching literature majors to design games, and what everyone learned in the process, from social justice to the technical aspects of building games.
  • My work with James River Writers is expressly connected to story-land, but what I didn’t anticipate was how many RVA folks would talk to me about JRW and their interest in writing, the broad range of types of writing that my fellow members of JRW do, or how strongly some of the membership would respond to my work as a librarian.
  • Last weekend I helped run an unconference about the New South, social justice, and technology. One of the threads that ran through it was new ways of telling stories, and while I did have a part in weaving in that particular thread, I didn’t do so for creative writing reasons: it just fit.
  • And, of course, I work at James Branch Cabell Library. This wasn’t the reason I applied for the job, but it’s an ineluctable part of my daily existence, as is the extent to which we construct narratives around our collections, whether circulating, archival, or otherwise.

Examples could be multiplied. These days it seems like storytelling flows through just about everything I do. My avocation shows up in unlikely places at work, and my thinking about libraries shows up in association with my writing. That kind of interaction used to seem strange to me, but these days I tend to expect it, and it feels only natural.

Kindles, Dragons, and Goodreads, Oh My!

2013 is coming to an end, and December’s been a pretty mixed month overall, all things considered. “Curse this metal body,” I’ve said more times than I can count in the last three or so weeks, given sundry problems, but nonetheless, some progress. My writing is noodling along about as well as one could expect after a period of indisposition…

Dragon Naturally Speaking

For Christmas I got a copy of Dragon Naturally Speaking. This was something that I’d considered doing several years ago. I was reminded of it by Cat Rambo, who wrote a nice post (with followup) about gifts for writers for Christmas. I am, in fact, composing this post using a headset, and it feels a little strange, but anything I can do to improve my flow of words, well, that’s a good thing. The accuracy is pretty good out of the box, better than Windows’ native speech-to-text, but I’ve started to “train” the software to my speaking patterns, and it’s a little bit shocking how well it works.

Goodreads

Years ago I established a Goodreads account. I didn’t use it all that much because I did not really see a need for it, but with my revived focus on writing, I’m trying to do a little bit more with it this year. To which end, I have finally put together a Goodreads Author Page. Humble thus far, but I expect that it will improve over time, or, if not improve, at least grow.

picture of J. T. Glover with Kindle

The Kindle Has Landed

The Kindle Has Landed

Hitherto I haven’t really been a fan of e-books. Everything from a love of paper to affection for authors who don’t get e-book editions to the kind of rootlessness I’ve felt when reading online have conspired to make me shun e-books to this point. Recently, however, I got the opportunity to try a Kindle of the current generation.

Wow. It was a huge change from my past experience trying to read on Kindles, computer, iPad, or otherwise. My local public library has also expanded their selection of e-books since the last time I looked a couple years ago. At this point, it contains a solid range of books that I want to read, have read and would like to reread, and books I’ve never heard of… enough to keep me merrily reading along for years.

So, I got a Kindle for Christmas. What am I reading? Well, I’ve checked out Clive Barker’s The Great and Secret Show, which I first read when it came out, lo those many years ago, and I’m thoroughly enjoying rereading. I’ve also purchased a copy of The Lord of the Rings, because you have to have The Lord of the Rings, as well as a couple novels in the aforementioned Phryne Fisher series. All in all, I have read more in the last month then in any single month since I don’t know when. It’s a good feeling.

Into 2014

Right now I’m finishing up a short story begun a few weeks back, and which I promised to send an editor friend at the end of this month. I think it has some promise, but whatever comes, it feels so good to be putting down words. I’ve something else on deck for January, ideas for what comes after that, and at least one other bit of news to announce down the road. And, at the end of the day, a heck of a good start lined up for the year to come.