Every month, I share the articles and sites that I found most interesting. Here’s what caught my attention in December.
• The Status Quo Does Not Need World Building by Kate Elliot
When people write without considering the implications of material culture and social space in the story they are writing, they often unwittingly default to an expression of how they believe the past worked. This is especially true if they are not thinking about how the material and the social differ from culture to culture, across both space and time, or how it might change in the future.
• ConCrit in Comments Only: What Writing Fanfiction Taught Me as an Editor by Diana M. Pho: “These formative experiences helped me hone my editorial eye as much as my years as a reader and my formal education elsewhere. Writing skills don’t always have to come from an MFA or out of how-to books. Sometimes they can be gathered together from the most unexpected places.”
• The 2019 Tools For Writers Spreadsheet by Christie Yant has sheets to track word count, career progress, and project management, and it looks amazing.
• Work Made for Hire: Katie Lane helps freelancers and creative businesses handle their legal problems and negotiate like rock stars.
• Take Script, Add Snow by Jane Borden: “So these movies deliver a fantasy of a memory — except, for most of us, it’s a false memory we internalized through Norman Rockwell art, and Rockwell was also delivering the fantasy of a memory.”
But that was the year Noël Coward staged his first musical, the hit London Calling!, and Jean Toomer came out with his breakthrough novel about African-American life, Cane. Because access to these and other works from the year has been limited, our understanding of the tumultuous 1920s is skewed. That will begin to change January 1, when digital compendia such as the Internet Archive, Google Books and HathiTrust will make tens of thousands of books available, with more to follow. They and others will also add heaps of newspapers, magazines, movies and other materials.
• Inside the Daring Life of a Forgotten Female War Photographer by Nina Strochlic
In 1942, [Dickie] Chapelle became one of the first women correspondents accredited by the military in WWII—an accreditation she quickly lost after accompanying the Marines onto Okinawa Island in defiance of a ban on female correspondents going ashore in combat areas. By the end of the war, she’d already written nine books, mostly about women in aviation, and had found work as an editor at Seventeen magazine.
• How I Learned To Cut Through The Bullshit Of “Personal Development” & Actually Better Myself by Jennifer Chan: “But with the internet, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of “Thought Leaders” that sell slightly different products on how to fix yourself in ten easy steps. We no longer just purchase products to improve our identity; We now purchase ideas in an attempt to define our identity.“
• The Rustout Issue: How to Prevent Stagnation When Pursuing Your Goals by Melissa Chu: “While burnout is a result of doing too much, rustout happens when we don’t do enough meaningful activities.”
• Directions by Robert Sullivan: Giving and getting directions is an unsung ritual of civic life, a measure of local knowledge and belonging. But what happens when your neighborhood, your city, seem to have lost their way?
• How the Great Recession influenced a decade of design by Eliza Brooke: “It’s impossible to separate the aesthetics of consumer goods from the economic circumstances under which they were created. The ways we adorn ourselves and our homes — and the ways brands dress themselves up to get our attention — speak to our personal and national relationships with money.”
• How Pink Salt Took Over Millennial Kitchens by Amanda Mull
Although pink Himalayan salt is perfectly functional for its intended culinary purpose—making food salty—it’s never before been particularly prized or venerated for its quality. That makes its meteoric rise from food-world also-ran to modern lifestyle totem all the more unlikely. For it to happen, a lot of seemingly separate dynamics in food, media, and health had to collide.
• The Cost of Living in Mark Zuckerberg’s Internet Empire by Brian Phillips
The internet of 1995 and 1999 and 2001 and even 2007 was a backwater by today’s standards, but to me, it was the most wonderful thing. It was strange and silly and experimental and constantly surprising, and it made you feel good about other people, because online, away from corporate media and every channel of established culture, other people turned out to be constantly surprising too.
• I love these movie trailer mashups by Sleepy Skunk. I am in awe of the videos themselves (they’re incredible), but more than that—they remind me how much I love movies as a visual and storytelling medium. I can’t think of a better way to get inspired to make cool things in 2019.
What’s the most interesting thing you saw online this month?