You can find this week’s “Big Thing” post over at the Literary Citizenship blog. My friend David Walton shares his advice about book reviews: how to write them, how to sell them, and why we need them.
My husband and I have started a little website business, of sorts. We’re not looking to build or expand, mind you. We have one client, my yoga teacher/massage therapist. I’ll call her Violet. She runs a studio out of her lovely historic home. I go there a few times a week and do yoga in her dining room and get acupressure massages in a little room off the kitchen. Violet’s been doing this work for over 30 years, and working with her has made a big difference in my life.
The Findability of Violet
I only found Violet because a friend of mine, Nancy, introduced me. I would never have found Violet on my own. There would have been no way to find her.
See, I knew Nancy did yoga, but I didn’t know where. So I Googled “Yoga Muncie.” This made me very depressed.
Go ahead. Try it.
Last week, I created a mid-term survey for my novel writing class. I wanted to know how things were going. Fine, it seems, but I did get this comment: “Though the class has a solid layout, I feel it’s taught with an assumption that each student intends to measure their success with book sales, awards, and film adaptations. It might help to keep in mind some of us are more motivated by art than the latest trends and approaches to win a broad audience and sell a ton of books.”
Reading your own teaching evaluations is a deeply humbling experience, not much different from reading workshop critiques. Scary as it can be, it’s also kind of fascinating to read what people think about you. Positive critiques are great, sure, but it’s what you do with the negative ones that determines what kind of person you are.
For the last few years, I’ve ended my classes with a presentation/pep talk on Literary Citizenship (basically this post as a Power Point). But next semester, I’m going to teach a whole class on Literary Citizenship.
Course descriptions are due this week, so I just wrote this up:
A literary citizen is an aspiring writer who understands that you have to contribute to, not just expect things from, the publishing world. This course will teach you how to take advantage of the opportunities offered by your campus, regional and national literary communities and how you can contribute to those communities given your particular talents and interests. It will also help you begin to professionalize yourself as a writer. You will learn how to 1.) create your own professional blog or website, 2.) use social media to build your writing community, 3.) interview writers and publish those interviews, 4.) review books and publish those reviews, 5.) submit poems, stories, and essays to literary magazines, 6.) query agents and editors regarding book manuscripts, 7.) apply to graduate programs and write an effective statement of purpose, 8.) deliver an effective public reading of your work, 9.) pitch to an agent, 10.) craft a professional résumé. Students who complete the course in an exemplary fashion will be eligible to apply for internship positions as Social Media Tutors at the Midwest Writers Workshop in Muncie July 25-27, 2013.