I love libraries.
We live in a day and age in which many people doubt the usefulness of libraries. Some say that libraries are on their way out the door altogether. No one cares about reading. Libraries merely remain in existence because schools use them.
I know all of those statements probably hurt your heart as much they hurt mine. Readers know that libraries are far from dead. How could they be when we love them so deeply and frequent their beautiful rows on a daily, weekly, monthly basis?
Today, on the day we are meant to give thanks, I want to slow down and shows some appreciation to libraries. Here are just a few of the reasons I love my local library.
1. It motivates me to engage in the arts.
Every time I visit my library, I get an intense urge to write a novel. Seeing shelves and shelves of books written by people like me who love stories and words makes my writing dream feel more attainable. So usually, I find a seat and get to typing - whether on my phone or on my laptop. I put everything else to the side and push myself to make a little progress toward my goal.
Obviously, being around all of those books also makes me want to read every single one of them. I can't help myself: I usually check out 4-5 books knowing that I already have 2 current reads going (and 100 unread books on my shelf at home on top of that). The fact that there's no time to read all the books I check out, let alone all the books in that library, doesn't matter at all. What matters is my love for reading burns all the brighter between the shelves of my library. I let my whimsy take over. I check out all the titles that suit my fancy, and my life is so much more beautiful for it.
2. The atmosphere at my library is cozy and friendly.
There are tons of sitting areas and the librarians have always, always been friendly. Now, I will admit that I've met a few rude librarians in my lifetime, but not at this library. Those were isolated incidents regardless. My library offers the opportunity to be alone with all the books just by strolling back into the stacks, but also provides me with the sense of being one person in a large universe, one piece that fits uniquely into the larger puzzle. I love those combined feelings: alone and yet part of the big picture.
3. They. Have. Everything.
The library I'm a patron to now is absolutely huge. They have a section for every interest and an easy to use online catalog for finding exactly what I want (or ordering it from another library on the off chance that they don't!). I tend to frequent the YA and humanities sections, but I always take an opportunity to wander other sections if time allows. Getting lost in the stacks may sound cliche, but in a world where noise is so prevalent and encouraged, it's really nice to slip back into the quiet rows for a little while.
I've also been a patron at smaller libraries (like the one in my hometown) and even that tiny library had so many titles that are new to me and super interesting. My point is that not every library has to be huge to be lovable or have a good selection, but I am very grateful to have access to a large library.
Overall, libraries have added a lot of extra beauty to my life. I wouldn't take back a minute that I've spent at my library for anything.
There are dozens of other reasons that I love libraries, but now I'd like to hear yours! Share a positive memory or experience you had at your library in the comments and let's chat!
The Poet's Haven publishes poems and stories by writers all over the experience spectrum. From beginners to well accomplished writers, everyone is encouraged to send their work. There are several categories you can submit to, each dealing with its own themes.
In Layman's Terms is a digital lit journal published twice a year. Creative nonfiction writers and poets are encouraged to submit work pertaining to the current theme. Check the About and Submit pages for info on the current theme.
Ruminate is a literary magazine with a focus on mindfulness in the arts. Writers from all walks of life may submit their nonfiction or poems for consideration (fiction is also normally accepted but currently closed). Follow the link and scroll down to general submissions for more information on submissions to each genre.
The Collagist is an online literary journal publishing short fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. In the submission manager, TC describes their taste as "idiosyncratic", and previously published work can be found on their website.
The Meadow is a literary journal published by Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada. Writers can submit their work between September 1st and February 1st each year to be considered for publication in the spring. Writers new and old are welcome to submit.
The holidays put a lot of stress on the general public. It's hard to keep up with all the places you're supposed to be, people you should buy gifts for, and food you're supposed to cook. It's stressful, I know! I, for one, am trying my hardest to simplify life this December. I'm choosing to set boundaries and stick to them - including a gift budget!
If you're looking for some easy gifts that will keep you stress-free and on a budget this year, I some ideas for the book lovers in your life. Knowing you have to fill so many stockings can leave you wracking your brain about what to buy, but hopefully, my ideas help! I can tell you from experience that I definitely enjoyed receiving these items as gifts!
My favorite thing about reading lights is that they’re easier on my eyes than a lamp or overhead light. A good booklight makes it easy to read when other people are sleeping in the room. I've used them on family vacations or when I want to hang out in the living room and finish my book but the rest of the house wants to go to bed. A booklight could probably also be used on nighttime road trips if the light isn’t excessively bright.
Personally, I didn’t know how useful book lights were until I got one as a gift one Christmas and started using it. Now it’s one of my favorite gifts I’ve ever gotten (although the original one I received from my mom ran out of life a long time ago). Using my booklight helps me feel a little more comfortable and a little cozier while I'm relaxing and enjoying my next book.
Bookmarks are a super practical gift for the book lover in your life, but magnetic bookmarks are even better. The magnet on the back makes it easier for readers to keep their place in the book they're currently loving. It won't fall out easily, and it's harder to accidentally knock out of the book than a normal bookmark. This is definitely important if your bookish friend carries their novel around with them. It can also be helpful for people who have to deal with pets knocking belongings over, have small kids running around the house, or just want a little extra cuteness in their life. Some super cute magnetic bookmarks are available from the Etsy shop linked above (FunUsualSuspects).
Notebooks are handy things for most people to have around. Making list, budget planning, and journaling are all practical reason that someone may be happy to receive an extra notebook. It's always good to have an extra one lying around for when you run out of pages. But bookish people, in particular, seem to really enjoy receiving notebooks. I assume it's because many readers are also writers or journalers and that's wonderful! There are so many cute notebooks out there, and a fair amount of styles to choose from. I prefer large, unlined notebooks. The completely blank pages help me feel more in control of my creativity and what I put in the journal, but a standard small, lined notebook also serves an important purpose if I want to write pages and pages of thoughts and feel that they have some sort of order. There are plenty of inexpensive options if you choose to buy this bookish gift. I've linked one above from Target.
The coupons book lovers can get from these companies are worth the membership alone, but the extra percentage you get off at B&N and BAM with memberships makes it a killer deal if you’re someone who buys books on a regular basis. If your favorite bookish person doesn't live near either of these stores, that's okay. Most chain bookstores offer some kind of paid membership for extra benefits and most likely all you'll have to do is peek at the retailer's website to find details.
These memberships are the pricier options on this gift list, but they're not outrageous. My B&N membership costs about $25 a year. It's an item that sometimes seems too frivolous to buy for myself, but when it comes to a gift for someone else, that's exactly the quality you want to look for. Would they love this and put it to use but won't buy it for themselves? Sounds like a great gift idea to me!
Book Outlet is an online bargain bookseller that list all of their books at a 50%-90% discount. A gift card for Book Outlet is a great gift because not only can the gift receiver take advantage of some crazy deals, they can also get twice as many books as they would at the average bookstore chain. That means your gift goes twice as far and makes them twice as happy! Plus, I guarantee your book lover will spend even more than their gift card amount. Book Outlet is that good!
Those are my 5 bookish gift ideas! If they helped you nail down your Christmas list at all, let me know! Remember to take it easy and don't let the rush and expectations of this season get you down or make you miss out on the whole point of this time - to slow down, enjoy the walk, and celebrate the people around you.
I hope your days are merry and bright this December.
Writer's block is one of the most annoying and dreaded conditions a writer could face. We live in an age in which it's easy to have your creative stores drained by the stress of the day and to feel much too tired to dive into a new artistic project. Writer's block often stems from a lack of inspiration, and it can be incredibly frustrating waiting for ideas to come to you rather than creating them.
In my own writing life, I've developed certain habits that help me write better, regain inspiration, and bypass writer's block, and I decided to post them here just in case they help someone else. There are dozens of ways to go about getting your inspiration back, but here I've focused on the techniques that only require your pen, and a notebook or laptop.
1. Don't edit in the middle.
I change very little about a poem or story while I'm still writing it. The most important thing to me is that I get the story of the poem on paper first. Editing switches my mind out of a creative mode and into a more critical one. It's difficult to polish a piece of writing if I don't have the whole story down first with all its imperfections and inconsistencies. When I say "story" I'm talking about the point or theme of a poem as well. This tip applies to all kinds of writing. Focus on telling your story first and edit afterward or (even better) when you've had time to let the story sit in the back of your mind for a while.
2. When you're stuck, focus on the senses.
Sensory details add a lot of depth to descriptions. If you're stuck, it can be helpful to list the five senses and think of a detail to go with each. Whether your list pertains to senses you're experiencing as you're trying to write the poem (sights in the room or smells in the café your writing in, for instance) or whether they're senses that apply to the situation you're writing about, this exercise can be a good way to tap into poetic language again and boost your creativity. Think about how those details may play into your poem. What train of thought does it put you on? Did you notice any strange descriptors that came to mind or poetic devices you used such as simile or metaphor? Consider using the descriptions you come up with or just use this technique as a way to get started writing.
3. Make a list.
This technique really works if I have no idea what to write about or if I know the topic I want to focus on but I'm really struggling to string the sentences together. If I want to write about a particular incident, I make a list of things I remember or thoughts I have about the situation even if the items don't seem especially useful. I just write them down. If I have no idea what to write about in the first place, I may just write a list of things I've noticed lately or thoughts that cross my mind in a stream of consciousness style. Writing a list in a stream of consciousness style usually helps me find something that interests me, and I write more about it to develop my idea further. Before I know it, I've written a decent chunk that can be turned into a creative piece in the future.
4. Write every day.
This one seems counter intuitive, I know. Writing each day can make you wonder if your depleting your idea tank and wasting your time if you're not inspired. I think the opposite is true. When I write consistently, even if it's just for 20 minutes a day, I find that more of my ideas make it on paper. I don't procrastinate on getting started on my ideas because I know I'll have to write something to check off writing for the day. I also find that just concentrating on getting my writing done for the day pushes me not to edit my writing while I'm still working on it. All of this combined makes for a really effective, brief writing session. Even if I write something that I'm not happy with, I always get the bare bones of an idea down to be revised later, so it still pays off for me to write despite a lack of inspiration.
5. When in doubt, skip around.
There is no rule that you have to write your book, article, poem, whatever in a particular order. Sometimes it's easier to start with the idea that jumps out at you the most and just rearrange your work later. If a particular scene or line is pulling at your attention, don't delay! Go ahead and start there if you want to. You're allowed to do whatever you want. It's your art. You may also be worried that skipping around requires more editing. I find that editing a story or poem that's written out of order isn't that difficult unless I've somehow written the same scene more than once and have to figure out which details to keep or move. I don't like doing the work twice, but that rarely happens, so I still definitely recommend this technique.
Writer's block sucks no matter how you spin it, but it doesn't have to be your demise. Don't let your art live or die by the muse. You can make anything happen if you stick to it and do a little bit of work every day. If you've ever struggled with writer's block, feel free to leave a comment and tell me about it and/or how you got your inspiration back.
What is NaNoWriMo?
Poet. Reader. Lifelong Student.