Friday Fifteen

Happy Friday, guys! It’s been a little while since I’ve posted a Friday Fifteen, partly because November was a dumpster fire and partly because I was in a reading and writing slump (mostly related to the general dumpster fire-ness).

ReadingYes Please by Amy Poehler
Fresh and funny and honest; I want to be friends with Amy and her friends.

Writing: …I know what to do if there’s a fire or earthquake or killer bee attack.
New MC is prepared for anything.

Imagery, Humanity, and Storytelling with Miyazaki

When I want to watch a movie on a random night, there’s a good chance I’m going to pick a movie by Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. Movies like Spirited Away and Kiki’s Delivery Service and Howl’s Moving Castle are some of my favorites, and I go back to Miyazaki’s work over and over. The storytelling is thoughtful and the art is fun and beautiful, and even in fantastical settings his characters feel so real.

I love this video that talks about why Miyazaki’s films are so successful, including his focus on precise character actions, clear character needs, and fostering human empathy on screen.


Basically, Miyazaki’s films are a masterclass in storytelling and character development. So when I watch them over and over, it’s totally for professional reasons.

Translating Hagrid’s Accent

I love this fascinating look at the complications of translating Harry Potter into an international bestseller and maintain its sense of British-ness and wordplay.

Also, I totally didn’t realize that that was how Quidditch got its name.

No matter where you may live and what languages you may speak, we can all feel part of the wizarding world.

Don’t Stop

It’s been a weird time for me as a writer. I’m at the beginning of a new project, but I’m having a really hard time getting going. It seems like everything that’s going on post-election is so much more significant than stories, and I’m doing a lot of soul-searching about what I want my writing and my career to be. It’s even been hard to focus on reading fiction, so I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction (mostly about running, in preparation for my 2017 Boston Marathon with the Dana-Farber team).

The running theme has also extended to podcasts, including this episode of Human Race from Runner’s World. I went into the episode thinking it was about an 85-year-old woman who’s still running marathons, which is impressive on its own. But then I found myself practically crying in my kitchen as I listened to Sylvia Weiner’s story of surviving three concentration camps in the Holocaust and learning to run to combat PTSD. This is a powerful story and an incredible woman.

One quote in particular stuck with me, when the interviewer asked Sylvia if she had any advice for her:

“If you’re tired, if you’re really tired, okay, you’re allowed to take a rest…but don’t stop. If you have it in your mind, you won’t stop.”

Sylvia has survived so much more than I can imagine, and she still manages to run everyday, make people laugh, and share her story. Sometimes things can really suck. Sometimes you might have to take a break. But if Sylvia can keep going, we can keep going.

You can read more about Sylvia here, and I highly recommend listening to the whole Human Race episode about her. And don’t stop.

Friday Fifteen

So. It’s been a week. I haven’t felt particularly writer-y this week, and a lot of other, smarter people have already said smart things about the election and its results.

This week I was also reading 26.2 Miles to Boston: A Journey into the Heart of the Boston Marathon by Michael Connelly. I loved reading the history of the marathon and going step by step in the route and remembering all the excitement of last year. I remembered the emotions of the 2013 marathon and the bombing and how the week after felt then, too. But I remembered how even in hard times, good people prevail. We need to stay strong together and fight for each other.

So instead of a regular Friday Fifteen, here’s a (fifteen words or fewer) quote I particularly liked from 26.2 Miles to Boston. It’s from five-time wheelchair division champion Jim Knaub:

“Just concern yourself with what’s ahead–anything behind you doesn’t matter.”

Keep fighting. Keep moving forward.

Babbitt Everlasting

I was so sad to learn that Natalie Babbitt, author of the beautiful Tuck Everlasting, died yesterday at 84 years old, after a battle with lung cancer. Publisher’s Weekly has a lovely obituary about Babbitt’s life and work. In the AP article about her passing, I love this quote by her husband:

“She once said that her ambition was just to leave a little scratch on the rock..I think she did that with ‘Tuck Everlasting.'”

My childhood copy of Tuck Everlasting.

My childhood copy of Tuck Everlasting.

I more than agree. Tuck Everlasting is a book I read over and over as a kid, and I got something new out of it every time. I reread it as an adult a few years ago, and I was blown away by the precision of her writing–her craft was on point. I also write about how Tuck Everlasting stays with me as an adult and the power of children’s literature a little while back for Ploughshares.

I got to meet Babbitt briefly about ten years ago, when I first moved to Boston. She was doing a panel with Lowis Lowry and Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, and I got my copy of Tuck Everlasting signed. I don’t remember saying anything in particular to her (probably just “thank you for being here, I love your book”) or that she said anything in particular to me, but it was one of the first big writer experiences I had, and I’m so glad I got the opportunity to see her.

I’m so sorry that the world has lost Natalie Babbitt, but what a wonderful mark she’s made on the lives of so many readers. It seems appropriate to end with this quote from Tuck Everlasting:

“Don’t be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don’t have to live forever, you just have to live.”

Friday Fifteen

Happy Friday, guys! It’s Halloween weekend, which means I’ve already had at least three mini Twix bars and have seen at least one person in costume. I’ve also had a head cold for the last week, so I’m going to act like Lupin and tell myself the chocolate is medicinal. Here’s to a weekend of more chocolate, rest, and reading! Let’s kick things off with a look at what I’ve been reading and writing in fifteen words or fewer.

Reading: The Distance To Home by Jenn Bishop
A heartfelt and thoughtful story of sisters, growing up, grief, and baseball.

Writing: …it feels like it’s going to start raining any second. Way to be, Sunshine State.
I feel like I could use a little more sunshine this week, to be honest.