Inspired by Christina’s post, I decided to do a little spring cleaning of my own, but instead of clearing out my Notes app, I would go through the 217 tabs currently open on my phone’s browser.
Unlike some (or many?) people, I try to limit the number of open tabs on my laptop, but my phone is another story. I sometimes think that I’m a pack rat for ideas, not objects. I collect articles, interviews, short stories, and essays, storing them away until I have the time or mental energy to read them. But rather than bookmarking pages that I want to return to, I leave the tab open on my phone, perhaps in an appeal to object permanence. Unfortunately my memory is less like that of a squirrel’s, and I often forget to go back to unearth the treasure I buried for later.
So here’s a spring excavation of ten articles/essays/short stories I always meant to read but didn’t until I wrote this post:
While studying abroad in Grenoble in 2019 I noticed the image of a sheep accompanied with the phrase “Je suis ceux que je suis” graffitied on buildings around town. This article explains that the artist is called the Sheepest, playing on both “sheep” and “cheapest,” and their work is a commentary on consumerism and surveillance.
2. “Boiled Bones and Black Eggs” by Nghi Vo in Beneath Ceaseless Skies
I loved Nghi Vo’s short but impactful The Empress of Salt and Fortune, so after reading it in early 2021 I must’ve looked up her other works. This short story is about a girl who helps run her aunt’s inn whose clientele includes both the living and the dead. One day, a ghost shows up and doesn’t want to leave. The descriptions of food made my mouth water, and the ending was darkly clever.
In this Medium post, Tahir compiles advice from her peers in publishing on how to have a sustainable career. As an aspiring writer and current editorial assistant at a publishing house, I find it interesting to hear authors’ experiences with the industry. This post had some good points about focusing on your craft, being flexible, and surrounding yourself with good people.
4. “Jung lovers: BTS delve into psychology on their album, Map Of The Soul” by Mark Savage for BBC Entertainment
This article from the BBC interviews Dr. Murray Stein—the author of a primer on Carl Jung’s theories of analytical psychology titled Jung’s Map Of The Soul—about the connections between Stein’s work and BTS’ 2019 album Map of the Soul: Persona. (A related tab still open on my phone: this interview with Stein that explores Jung’s influence on BTS’ works in more depth).
5. “What Are Pinch Points? And How Can They Make Your Book Easier to Write?” by K.M. Weiland from “Helping Writers Become Authors”
I do enjoy reading plot advice, even though I don’t always use it or think it’s universally helpful/applicable as it rests on assumptions about who your audience is (white, cis, straight, etc.) and what their expectations are (ex. that the protagonist is active, not passive). Still, this was interesting to read and could provide some jumping-off points if I get to a point in a story where I don’t know where to go next.
6. “13 Small but Impactful Ways to Cultivate Resilience” by Anna Borges from “SELF”
This listicle was written in May 2020, so this is one that I’ve had open for approximately two years. It’s interesting to look back on something that was written in the early pandemic, and I’d say that it holds up as useful advice, even two years down the road.
7. “The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction” by Ursula K. Le Guin
In this essay Le Guin applies to fiction the theory that the first tool was a bag rather than a weapon. In doing so she questions the character of “hero,” the reduction of story to conflict, and what it is that truly makes us human. I love hearing authors’ critiques of how stories are “supposed to be,” and although I haven’t read many of her works yet, this essay makes me want to.
8. “Staying Autistic, Staying Feral” by Amy Gaeta in becoming–Feral: a book of beasts
This was a really interesting essay that questions the assumption that autistic people should “mask”—aka try to appear neurotypical—rather than be allowed to live naturally. I think the metaphor of autistic people having to self-domesticate to suit neurotypical people’s needs rather than our own is apt.
9. “N. K. Jemisin’s Dream Worlds” by Raffi Khatchadourian for the New Yorker
I read Jemisin’s The Fifth Season last year, so I must have kept this tab open to read once I’d finished the book, as this article delves into her inspiration and process of worldbuilding for it. It also goes into Jemisin’s childhood, other Black sci-fi authors who had an impact on her, and her publishing journey. It’s worth a read!
10. “A Stick of Clay, in the Hands of God, is Infinite Potential” by Neon Yang in Clarkesworld
I read the first novella in Yang’s Tensorate trilogy in 2019, so maybe I’ve had this tab open for three years? Who knows. Anyway, this short story is about a team of mecha pilots fighting a holy war who begin to question how and why they’re fighting. Yang always does interesting things with gender in their stories, and this one is no exception. I’m glad I finally got around to reading it.
Ten down, 207 tabs to go. Happy spring.
Lauren Cole (’20) graduated with a major in English and minors in French and psychology. She grew up in Grand Rapids and wants to live as she wants to die—surrounded by trees. She loves adding books to her TBR, but actually reading them is another matter.