Stuff worth reading

I’m well beyond the point where I believe that anyone else’s process can offer me a magic path to or through my own. But hearing about how other writers work can still be interesting, informative, and inspiring.

In “Writer’s Block, Schmiter’s Block,” Marissa Meyer offers some really smart strategies to get yourself writing.

Then, in “From Idea to Finished,” she generously details her entire process in 9 posts.

This conversation with Chris Rock is fantastic. It covers everything (comedy, politics, creativity, being a father), and it completely reinforces my belief that being funny requires an incredible amount of intelligence.

(Note: I’m not saying he’s right about everything. Just that he’s thoughtful and smart.)

To say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not black progress. That’s white progress. There’s been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years. If you saw Tina Turner and Ike having a lovely breakfast over there, would you say their relationship’s improved? Some people would. But a smart person would go, “Oh, he stopped punching her in the face.” It’s not up to her. Ike and Tina Turner’s relationship has nothing to do with Tina Turner. Nothing. It just doesn’t. The question is, you know, my kids are smart, educated, beautiful, polite children. There have been smart, educated, beautiful, polite black children for hundreds of years. The advantage that my children have is that my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people.

Last but not least, two great rants from my fellow “Wexlerites.” (Meaning that they are also represented by my agent Tina.)

“I See a Book and Get Angry and Write a Thing” by Anne Ursu

As Jensen says in an excellent essay: “Being fat isn’t a disability. Being fat is a physical state of being.”

Nobody tells you this when you’re growing up, but you can be fat and feel good about yourself. You can be fat and healthy. You can be fat and strong. And fat is just a word, that’s all—not an insult, not a feeling, not a moral failing.

What they might not know is the person next to them is sick—that the words they use warp into nourishment for a dormant eating disorder. What they might not know is they’re teaching the girls who listen to hate their bodies.

Your daughters are listening.

“Beware the Bitter Women” by Laura Ruby

When reviewers use gendered terms and expectations to review female writers, they reinforce stereotypes. That women—and their girl characters—should be quiet. That women writers should be non-confrontational. That women writers should be subtle or gentle or funny or absurd or ironic or even ridiculously vague in order not to alienate…well, who exactly?

Art exists not just to entertain—but also to challenge, to provoke, even to disturb. And no matter how funny/satirical/absurd/beautiful/heartfelt your writing is, when you’re asking thought-provoking questions that challenge the status quo—the way a sexist culture demeans girls, the way a racist culture endangers brown people—some readers might be lost in the process. Some might even find your work “hyper” or “preachy” or “strident,” oh my. But what if those readers aren’t the ones you’re writing for?

Like this:



“You don’t have a black role. You have an equal role.”


A long way from home


  1. The Laura Ruby piece was interesting. I immediately reacted to the “lack of subtlety” thing. “Lack of subtlety” is an aesthetic question, not a value judgement. I enjoy a lot of things that have a lack of subtlety. And, yes, it is a criticism that is mostly directed at works by women.

    But I think part of it is that people tend to use terms like “preachy” and “strident” when the opinions happen to be ones they disagree with — it’s easier than actually criticizing the opinions being expressed. My father always used to say that he didn’t want art to have “politics” mixed up in it, but in practice what this meant was that he didn’t like art which expressed political opinions which were different from his.

    Years ago, Barbra Streisand accepted an award for her work as a film director (I forget the details), and in her acceptance speech she pointed out that many of the terms used to criticize her methods (perfectionist, demanding, etc.) were also used about male directors — but when used about men they were compliments.

    • Yep, yep, and yep! That’s my response, in order, to each of your paragraphs. Hehehe.

      I don’t even think it’s conscious sometimes, when people do and say things like this. Heck, I might do it on occasion. I’m going to try to watch out for it moving forward, that’s for sure.

      There is just so much sexism (and racism, and other -isms) built into our cultures. Sometimes it feels like a full-time job just trying to get it out of our own systems.

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