Harold and the Purple Crayon is a classic children’s book. Is it also a writing guide? In an essay for Bookslut, Mairead Case explains why she re-reads it whenever she’s finishing a project: the main character’s need to create a room for himself is a corollary to the writing process.
Writing a novel is an all-consuming project, so can you imagine not telling anyone? At The New York Times, Alice Mattison discusses keeping her novels secrets until at least the third draft. “If I talk about the book, I believe — I cannot help believing — my characters will be angry, and will no longer confide in me about their embarrassing, troubled lives.” On another side of the secrecy spectrum, Emma Straub writes about what it’s like to keep a personal secret even as her literary life was booming.
In a head-scratching piece of writing for the New Statesman, Dave Eggers (whose novel The Circle just cracked our Top Ten) reflects on a cross-country drive he took from Jeddah to Riyadh. The journey, and in particular a comment made by his chauffeur, caused Eggers to ponder the significance of his nationality, his ability to perceive danger, and the intentions of others. The short of it: Some people from other countries are nice. Who knew?
On Friday, Tumblr rolled out its new “highlighted post” feature. The move is a new way to monetize the site’s content, but it’s not the only new initiative taken up by the site. As of last week, two writers have been hired by the Tumblr staff to document, well, Tumblr. (And speaking of all of this, you should totally check out my list of the best literary Tumblrs.)
In his novels and plays, Sebastian Barry often focuses on segment of Irish society that tends to get ignored in literature — the Irishmen who fought for the British Empire in the first and second World Wars. At Full-Stop, John Cussen reads The Temporary Gentleman, which portrays a British officer, Jack McNulty, who sets out to write his memoirs. (Related: Matt Kavanagh wrote a piece for The Millions on Irish financial fiction after the crash of 2008.)