“I certainly didn’t want to do something that felt as if I was having a séance. I started with her most personal papers. I wanted her interior voice; I didn’t want the formal writing. I went immediately to her diaries and letters and to the commonplace books. From there I started looking at the marginalia because I was getting a sense of wanting to know what was on her mind while she was writing in her journals.” Lynell George conducted a posthumous interview with Octavia Butler, Bomb magazine talked to her about the process. Pair it with this essay on slavery in fiction from our own Edan Lepucki.
Recommended Reading: Kate Sweeney explores the business of environmentally-minded deep sea burial, which is offered by companies such as Georgia’s Eternal Reefs.
Ohio poet Stanley Gebhardt accused Violent J, a member of Insane Clown Posse, of stealing his poem, “But You Didn’t,” nine years ago and attempting to pass it off as his own. The poem was originally published in A 2nd Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul. Bonus: Kent Russell’s dispatch from “The Gathering of the Juggalos.”
Novelists, poets, and playwrights aren’t the only people who can call themselves writers. Don’t forget the oft begrudged screenwriters. The New York Times highlights 14 of this year’s best screenwriters, including Julie Deply and Seth Rogen, and asks them for writing advice and one original line of dialogue for some excellent short films. Our favorite short film is Robert Redford’s.
“To make money, I’m planning on teaching English, or coaching recreational soccer, or something. But that’s not important because apartments are cheap, and that part, kicking around a ball, or helping Thai children have a better command of the English language, even though I don’t speak a word of Thai, will probably only be a chapter in my book. Those things will provide some nice blog-potential details, too. They’ll show the texture of my everyday life.” Travelling to the East for the sole purpose of writing a memoir.
Julia Fierro is a writer we’ve featured before, and her first novel Cutting Teeth was published last month. But as she explains in a new piece, there was a stretch of time when she didn’t write at all. “I was so cruel to myself, so impatient, beating myself up daily for not writing,” she says. “It took seven years worth of teaching… before I returned to writing with solid commitment. And when I did sit down in front of my computer, I was a better writer.”
In addition to the Jewish refugees who emigrated to North America in the years leading up to World War II, there was also a sizable contingent who fled East. In particular, an estimated 30,000 refugees journeyed to Shanghai between the years of 1933 to 1941. With them, the refugees brought all sorts of valuables, heirlooms, and artifacts. One family brought over 2,000 books. Now, over 70 years later, one Shanghai family is asking for help locating the owner of that library. Part One; Part Two. (h/t Bint Battuta)