Inspired | January 2020

Every month, I share the articles and sites that I found most interesting. Here’s what caught my attention in January: writing vs. promotion, why writers are drawn to tarot, the splintering of fandoms, and more.

your heart is a moving target by Kali Wallace: “I wonder what people could write if they didn’t have to interrupt their writing constantly to promote themselves to an audience largely made up of other people who are also interrupting their writing to constantly promote themselves.”

Confessions of a Hate Reader, or Bad Writing Habits I Picked up from Bad Criticism by Jeannette Ng

The thing is, in consuming so much criticism, especially the bad faith nitpick-y genre-oblivious sort, I have interalised these critical voices. Much like how others have internalised the voice of a discouraging teacher or an overbearing partner.

And it has been bad for my writing.

Why Are Writers Particularly Drawn to Tarot? by Rochelle Spencer: “In an era of fast, less expensive technologies—our smartphones have more power than the computers behind the Apollo—maybe we’re hungrier than ever to explore, to make new discoveries about the self. And it’s possible tarot provides a light-hearted avenue for thinking about our fears and desires, subjects writers can’t avoid.”

Inside the Spectacular Implosion at the Romance Writers of America by Kelly Faircloth: “Romance novels, at their most fundamental level, are about protagonists being seen clearly and loved—and this is a story about who gets to be seen and valued in the romance genre, and whose pain matters.”

Was anyone ever so young? What 10 years of my Instagram data revealed by Kari Paul

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, I have the right to demand companies disclose “any personal information” they collect about me and request a copy of that information. On 4 January, Instagram sent me 10 folders of data – nearly 8,000 photos, thousands of text files from my direct messages, and search history.

It’s almost certainly not the full collection of information Instagram has gathered on me over the years. “I am 100% sure this is not the only data that Instagram has on you,” said John Ozbay, the chief executive of privacy and security tool Cryptee. “But because we cannot prove they have more, they will never give it to you.”

“Star Wars” Misinformation Hell Is The New Future Of Everything by Ryan Broderick

And as quickly and strangely as modern fandoms form, so are they mutated by Han Shot First moments. These schisms are rarely deliberate — rather, they are sparked by a director’s cut of a popular film, an offhand remark made in an interview. They are willed into existence by conspiracy theories, by fanfiction, by leaks of material never intended to be seen.

Fix up, look sharp: how to mend more and buy less by Dale Berning Sawa: “Whereas visibly repaired clothes might once have been considered a sign of not being able to afford new ones, the mending movement celebrates the ingenuity our forebears deployed to make old things last.”

The fashion futurist: how Vogue’s wartime editor revolutionised women’s lives by Gaby Hinsliff

In 1946, she wrote a long memo to her American editor-in-chief Edna Chase, arguing passionately that Vogue’s future was to cover “every subject in which the intelligent sophisticated woman is currently interested”, and that its politics “must be progressive”. Politics could not be ignored, Withers argued, when it shaped everything in women’s lives from education and health to prices in shops.

What’s the most interesting thing you saw online this month?