Playing and Discovery

A friend who’s an actor recently shared this interview with Mark Rylance talking about spontaneity and ‘playing’ with other actors as a way to develop character. The part I like starts around 1:40 minutes in:

I don’t do a lot of plotting when I’m drafting a novel, so I can totally relate to to this idea of being in the moment with characters, and the joy of discovery that comes with that. Even though I’m married to a playwright and have a lot of friends in the theater, I never thought about spontaneity and character development in the same way in terms of acting. But it’s really cool to see that artists can have similar methods of exploration, despite working in different artistic spheres.

Do you feel a sense of play and exploration in your writing or other artistic work?

2017 Bookish Resolutions

Yesterday I shared my 2016 reading and writing resolution results, but 2016 is over (woohoo!) so today I’m moving onto my 2017 book-related resolutions.

Reading Resolutions

  1. Finish more book series I’ve started: putting this one back on the list, since I’m still in the middle of some great series.
  2. Read more diversely: because We Need Diverse Books applies to all genres and categories, and because we need to hear these voices now more than ever.
  3. Listen to more audiobooks: after Amy Poehler helped me through an unexpectedly epic road trip, I’ve gotten into audiobooks. I always thought I’d been way too distracted to follow a narrative, but I’ve loved getting to listen to books while cooking or commuting or hanging out.
  4. Explore more picture books: I always say that writing a good picture book is like writing a good poem–seemingly easy but so hard to do well. Even though I don’t have any young readers in my house, that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a good story and some awesome illustration.
  5. Read more poetry: I took poetry classes in college, both writing and literature, and really enjoyed it, but my experience with poetry has seriously dropped off since then. The nice thing about poetry is that it’s easy to work poetry in on a regular basis–you don’t need to read a whole collection at once.

Writing Resolutions

  1. Turn off the internet more: I get a lot done when I go write in coffeeshops without free wi-fi (or at least where I don’t explicitly check for the wifi info).
  2. Write when I think I don’t have enough time: back on the list for 2017, because it’s still true and I still get more done than I think I can.
  3. Revise projects that aren’t finished: I’ve got a couple of complete drafts that still need work. I’d like to get them as far as I can take them.
  4. Stretch my writing muscles: try new genres, new formats, new categories.
  5. Have fun: because this one still matters and is still a challenge. It’s hard to separate the writing itself from all the possible end results, when all the possible end results are out of my control. The writing’s in my control, and it’s the fun part, even when it’s work.

Here’s to a year of expansive reading and joyful writing. Share your 2017 bookish resolutions in the comments!

2016 Book Resolution Recap

Confession: I kinda forgot that I made reading and writing resolutions for 2016, at least in an official way. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t make some progress! Some recaps from 2016 reading and reading

1. Finish book series I’ve started: I did manage to get through a few series that I’d started, including Dairy Queen, the Wolves of Mercy Falls, and Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I still have some series hanging out there, but at least I didn’t start a bunch more series that I couldn’t finish.

2. Read a few books for grown-ups: I did read outside of the YA sphere, but they were all non-fiction. I think that counts.

3. Add some non-fiction to the list: Totally nailed this one! I ended up reading way more non-fiction that I’ve read in years.

4. Pick from books already on my shelves: Well, I think I did that once…

Audio Book 5. Read more, tech less: Oddly enough, I think getting into audiobooks actually helped me reading more while tech-ing.

6. Finish my current WIP: I did get through a revision of this WIP, but it needs some more work before it goes out and is currently on a break. (Sorry, characters, I still love you.)

7. Complete a new first draft: I ended up completing a new first draft! It’s still way early in the revision process, but I really like this one.

8. Write when I think I don’t have enough time: I definitely could have been better at this. It’s so easy to think that a half hour isn’t enough time, when you can do way more than you think you can.Happy Dog

9. Start outlining new projects: I’m not an outliner, but I did start a spreadsheet of potential projects with notes about what they might include.

How did your 2016 reading and writing go? What were your successes, surprises, and challenges? And what’s on tap for 2017?

Be on the lookout for my 2017 resolutions, hopefully tomorrow!

Links Galore

Lots of links I’ve been saving:

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.