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Squills 8/15/2022 - 8/29/2022



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Mon Aug 15, 2022 11:01 pm
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Welcome to Squills, the official news bulletin of the Young Writers Society!
What will you find here? Tons of interesting news about YWS, including but not limited to: articles about writing, art, and the world of humanities; interviews with YWS members; shameless plugs; link round-ups; and opinionated columns.
And where will all of this come from? Take a look at our fantastic creative staff!

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Of course, our content can’t come only from our staff. We also depend on you to help keep Squills successful. You’re all a part of a writing community, after all. If you’re interested in submitting to Squills, pop on over to the Reader’s Corner to find out how you can get involved by contributing an article or participating in other Squills activities.

You can apply to become a Squillian Journalist by submitting a sample article to SquillsBot today!





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Mon Aug 15, 2022 11:02 pm
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CAMP NANO IN JULY 2022
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written by Liminality< PM: >

Camp NaNoWriMo, a twice-a-year event, ran in the month of July concurrently with RP month. We had 14 participants camping with us this year. (Two times of lucky number seven!)

What is Camp NaNoWriMo?

Camp NaNoWriMo (Camp NaNo for short) is a spin-off of National Novel Writing Month. While NaNo tends to set the 'classic' goal of writing 50,000 words, Camp NaNo invites participants to set their own goals. As a result, projects tend to be more variable. Camp NaNo usually runs in April and July each year. You can find out more about the event by clicking this link.

Camp NaNo always hosts a variety of interesting projects, and this round was no different. Some people's goals involved planning or revamping a story. Others went for their own wordcount goal, such as a few hundred words a day, or several thousands of words in a month. Some multitasking YWSers were even working on two or three projects at once!

PlanMo Journals

During Camp NaNo, the PlanMo Journal Challenge is held in the Camp NaNo sub-forum and participants usually post their journal entries in the same thread as their Camp goal updates. PlanMo also runs in October, the month before NaNo in November. The main activity for PlanMo is the PlanMo Journal Challenge, which is hosted in The Official PlanMo Club for the October session.

For this round of Camp, there were a couple of new challenges added to the mix. For example, one prompt challenged participants to describe a theme in their story. Another journal prompt was to post a song that would inspire Campers to work on their stories when meeting their goals got tough. The mascot of PlanMo is @PlanBot, whom you can (and should certainly) follow by clicking the username tag.


Activities

This round @IcyFlame designed a set of beautiful matching badges for Camp NaNo accomplishments. You can view them in the badge thread here. Four people claimed badges for their PlanMo Journal entries. We also had two Cheerleaders (who each would have left at least 10 encouraging comments on other Campers' threads) and two Camp Finishers. (How many will there be next round?) Some notable badge winners include @RandomTalks, who achieved the Planner, Cheerleader and Camp Finisher badges, as well as @Lael, who completed the Plantser badge for writing 8 fantastic PlanMo journal entries.

Speaking of design, we also had some wonderful memes shared by @looseleaf to promote the event. Please see this meme she designed for PlanBot as an example.

@MailicedeNamedy helped to run this next activity! The Question Game was a thought-provoking thread that got Campers thinking about different aspects of their story. An interactive event, it sparked conversation among Campers about their respective projects. Each participant had to answer a question left by a previous participant with regards to their own project, as well as leave a new question for the next person to click the thread. As a bonus challenge, participants were invited to ask follow-up questions after their original question had been answered. This activity was open to anyone with a writing project, regardless of whether they were in Camp NaNo this round.

The Ultimate YWS Word Crawl

If you were working on a project in July, you are likely to have been in one of @Carlito's write-ins. You will have seen the amazing motivation device that is the word crawl, and hopefully had fun using it as well. This July Carlito came up with a word crawl themed after YWS. It has six parts in total, and each part has diverging paths to choose from. There is also a team aspect to it, as one of the challenges divides participants into Team Dragons or Team Monkeys. Though first invented during Camp NaNo in July, the game continues in the crawl's new home, the Writers' Corner. Make a post here and give it a try!

That's a wrap!

The tents have been folded and the fire put out -- for now. If you are still gazing longingly up to those writing stars, this is your sign to sign up for other writing events on YWS, such as Last Man Standing , and to keep an eye out for when NaNo activities arrive in October-November!





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Mon Aug 15, 2022 11:03 pm
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POETRY FROM POETRY (ON THE FIRST INTERPRETATION)
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written by Rida< PM: >

Dear poets,

Poetry is a mysterious and elusive medium of expression. One of the most beautiful thing about poetry is that it can reach so many people because everyone interprets a poem differently. Sometimes people create art, wether it be prose, poetry, or visual art, in response to a particular poem. Ideas travel from that poem to other mediums, and the message, the beauty and the voice are replicated as they travel the world, from one artist to another.

In a recent experiment conducted by TedEd, different recordings of Walt Whitman’s poem, ‘A Noiseless, Patient Spider’, were given to three animators to interpret accordingly.

All three of them created a short video to go along with the poem, which were shown in the video of the experiment.

In this article I would like to discuss the first interpretation.

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When I first read the poem, I loved how Whitman captured a single moment: a spider sending forth filaments of thread into emptiness and then using it as an extended metaphor for the poet’s soul, representing the soul’s position in ‘measureless oceans of space’. Then continuing to show how each thought is similar to the filaments the spider creates, and the soul’s endless search for connection until- - -



the bridge you will need, be form'd-- till the ductile anchor hold;
Till the gossamer thread you fling, catch somewhere, O my soul.



Acting on this metaphor, the first animator, Jeremiah Dickey, created a beautiful interpretation using the medium ‘paint on glass’ to bring out the beauty of the poem.

In the video, Dickey starts his video with a close-up view of the spider’s eyes, and as the poem is read, the eyes reflect the poet coming towards the spider. The camera zooms out and the spider is seen on a very narrow tip, with darkness surrounding it. The camera zooms out a little bit more, and we see a pair of eyes, representing the observer. The spider is then seen straight, the camera facing it’s face, as threads are seen shooting out of it. The speaker’s voice becomes more urgent, and the spider fades as the same pattern of threads becomes faster, faster, creating a hypnotic scene.

As the threads multiply, the white space representing them becomes thicker, and in the space where the spider had faded, a face stretches out- - - the poet’s soul.

As the poem ends with the poet writing about the soul finally finding a link to hold on to, the camera continues to zoom, the threads continue to grow, and there the poem ends.

In this interpretation/recreation of the poem, I found the poem to be portrayed rather urgently, mostly due to the voice of the speaker in the descending last few paras. Something that struck me in this animation was how beautifully and accurately the transition of the metaphor from being a spider spitting out threads to a soul desperately searching for an anchor was revealed. The hypnotic effect caused by the threads growing and circling, matched well with the urgency of the poem in its last few lines.

The way the poem was introduced: the poet being reflected in the spider’s eyes, made me think of perspective. How the poem was received on either sides. The beginning also introduced a more subtle part of the poem: though the poet speaks of the spider being ‘alone’, the reflection of the poet in the spider’s eyes creates a sort of connection with them, too.

This interpretation was beautiful and somehow managed to become something independent of just being an accessory to the poem, something to go along with as the poem shines in the spotlight. It became art, a message, a voice, as the artist included a little bit of himself, too, in his art. In simple words, he brought something new to the world from this poem. He made independent art from independent art.

On that note, I end this article. I hope you enjoyed it, though, and will continue to be with me as I explore the other two interpretations in the other articles.

Till then, keep writing, my dear poets! Create beauty from beauty, just as Jeremiah Dickey created beautiful art from a beautiful poem.

Yours,
-rida





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Mon Aug 15, 2022 11:04 pm
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BLUESCLUES'S EXPERIENCE WITH WRITING AND PUBLISHING
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written by Lib< PM: >

I truly did do my best trying to explain what this article/interview is in the title, but let me explain further!

@BluesClues is one of YWS's older members, one of our most loved writers here. She's usually hanging out in the Writerfeed Pads and she's always working on a WIP, and encouraging others to work on their projects as well! Some of you may remember #20in20 , #21in21 and #22in22 . @Shady brought along the idea of #20in20 with inspiration from #15in15 which was a thing long ago. Then a year later, #21in21 came along, which was when Blues and @mellifera joined forces to create a Support Group for the cause. This group still runs today, currently for #22in22. Check it out here! It’s such a fun thing to participate in, especially if you want to get into the routine of writing everyday. I would definitely suggest you give it a shot.

If you don’t know yet, Blues actually wrote a novel that used to be called The Chosen Grandma, but many of you may now know it as The Remarkable Retirement of Edna Fisher. And believe it or not, Blues has actually gone through the process of publication and the book is now available for preorder! (Link provided a little further down)

Squills: What exactly is your story about and how did you get the inspiration?

BluesClues: The Remarkable Retirement of Edna Fisher is about an 83-year-old Chosen One leaves the nursing home to save Knights like her long-dead son from a dragon-riding sorcerer—until abuse in the ranks makes her question who needs saving. The inspiration comes from this tweet from BroodingYAHero :
It's amazing how many prophecies involve teens. You'd think they'd pick more emotionally stable people, with more free time. Like grandmas.

I had this tweet saved in my writing inspo folder on my computer, and when I needed a new story idea for @Tenyo's Last Man Standing (Round III), that's the prompt that leapt out at me!

S: Were any of your characters inspired by a real person?

B: Edna is physically based more or less on my maternal grandma, her surname is my paternal grandma's maiden name, and her favorite nephew is named after my grandfather.

S: What part of your book was the most fun to write and which was the hardest?

B: It's one scene for both! There's a scene late in the book that I won't describe because it's a major spoiler, but I'd been looking forward to writing this scene since I started the book. It's devastating. It's a plot twist. It's SO FUN for me as a writer. But after writing it, I was emotionally drained and had to stop writing for the day, because writing a deeply emotional scene can be a lot.

S: What, to you, are the most important, or the fundamentals of a good story?

B: I think the fundamentals of a good story depend on the kind of story you're telling, but for me as both a reader and writer it's character and voice. I care about people a lot more than plot, so well-developed characters and a strong voice give me something to connect to!

S: What would you say is the most difficult part of the whole process? Not just of publishing, but of writing, creating, worldbuilding, etc?

B: Revision! There's nothing like revision to make me feel like I don't know how to write :,) I get through first drafts by telling myself "oh it's okay if this is terrible, that's what revision is for!" But then it's time to revise, and plot twist now I actually have to make those terrible things good somehow. :cries:

S: How many unpublished or half-finished books do you have? Do you plan on showing the world any of those?

B: Are we including past ones, because if so it's a lot and I definitely do not plan on sharing most of them or doing anything with them ever again XD Although I did livetweet both my first-ever novel and my first-ever fantasy novel .

However, currently I'm querying a sad, spooky contemporary fantasy called
The Many Buried Things of Peter Shaughnessy, about an old man cursed with immortality, a vengeful spirit, and grief. I'm also hoping to get back to drafting a contemporary fantasy romance about an anxious bi disaster guy and the human personification of Death. And I have a ghosty middle grades book in mind, but I don't think I'm ready to write it yet.

S: If you could tell your younger self something about your writing-life now, what would it be? And when did you start writing?

B: I started writing "seriously," by which I mean consistently and with an aim to improving, when I was about 12. I would probably just tell my younger self, "Hey! We have a book coming out! Good job!"

S: What’s the one thing you didn’t realize you would be doing as much as you did while you were looking to get your book published?

B: Waiting! And also crying XD Querying (submitting your novel to agents or small publishers) is a bummer—you're basically inviting people to reject you, and especially since the pandemic began, responses times are s l o w . While I was querying Edna, there was a point where like five different agents had been holding onto the full manuscript for over a year.

Publishing itself is also really slow! I'm lucky that working with a small press gives me a much shorter timeline: they offered in April 2022, and the book is due out in April 2023, which is basically no time at all in publishing land. If I'd gotten an agent and a deal with a large publisher, I probably couldn't even announce it yet, and the book wouldn't be out until at least 2024.


S: How did you actually publish? Did you do it yourself, or traditionally, or… What did that look like for you?

B: For this book, I'm traditionally publishing with a small press. The tl;dr version, minus the whole two-year querying sob story, goes like this:

I queried some small presses once I had exhausted my list of agents, one of them said, "Hey, this sounds pretty dope, can we read the whole thing?" and then said, "Hey, we loved the whole thing, can we talk to you about maybe publishing it?" I nudged everyone else who still had the full manuscript like "yo, anyone else want this?" no one else wanted it and, after a bit of back-and-forth, signed with my publisher.

Because I'm not self-publishing, a lot of behind-the-scenes work gets done for me! For example, my publisher handled things like getting an ISBN, putting the book on GoodReads, creating preorder links, and more. However, because I'm working with a small press rather than a large one, I also have a lot of creative control over the finished product. In many ways, it's the best of both worlds!


S: Could you tell me the top 3 most important tips/lessons you could swear by for writing/getting published?

B: The most important thing, especially if you intend to pursue publication, is to develop grit. The path to publication is full of rejection and setbacks, and a lot of it is based on luck. So it's important to persevere in the face of these setbacks. The only guarantee in publishing is that you'll never get anywhere if you give up and stop putting your work out there!

Tied for most important is to find your community—which you've hopefully already done, if you're on YWS. People tend to think of writing as a solitary pursuit, but it's really very communal! There's the obvious way that it takes a village to put out a book: not only the writer, but editors, copyeditors and proofreaders, designers, printers, and more. But long before that, it's important for writers to have friends who can help them brainstorm, cheer them on, and give them feedback.

Finally, there are no absolute rules to writing, especially when it comes to process. Find what works for you! It's okay if you're a plotter, a panster, if you write every day or don't or can't, if you consume print books, ebooks, audiobooks, or non-book forms of media for inspiration and to grow your craft. Everyone's process is different, often by necessity, and that's okay.


S: What are the easier and more difficult parts of publishing?

B: The hardest part of publishing is the impostor syndrome! It never goes away, even with a book deal. You always think you're not good enough or don't really belong here, for one reason or another—"I have a deal with a small press but not a large one," "I have a deal but I'm not agented," "I have a deal with a large press but didn't get as big an advance as someone else," "not as many people have added my book on GoodReads as my friend's book," etc. There's always something. And it's a bummer.

It's also hard working against a deadline when you're used to being able to write whatever you want whenever you want!

The easiest part—if you're going through a press rather than self-publishing—is that you suddenly have so many more people in your corner to help you as you go.


S: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?

B: Thank you so much for having me! You can add The Remarkable Retirement of Edna Fisher on Goodreads or Storygraph or preorder the hardcover or paperback directly from the publisher. (More preorder links should be available through other platforms later!)

S: And a fun bonus question: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

B: There are a lot of things that carry over from one story to another! This isn't remotely unique to me—many writers revisit the same themes and tropes again and again. But I love thinking about these things because I have an English degree XD One slightly weird thing is that I use certain specific descriptions over and over, no matter what story I'm writing. Like I really like comparing people to wilting flowers when they're depressed or despairing (or sometimes simply exhausted), and it happens multiple times in multiple stories.

And that’s a wrap - thanks so much for participating, Blues. :) This was such a fun interview and I personally learned quite a lot, and hopefully you did as well. Congrats to Blues for getting her story out there with her wonderful talent, and Squills wishes her all the best!





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Mon Aug 15, 2022 11:05 pm
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THOUGHTS ON REVIEWING VS LITERARY COMMENTS
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written by Liminality< PM: >

The Great Team Tortoise Race in June had me thinking about reviewing a lot. What is the purpose of a review? After all, reviews are not the only way you can get feedback on YWS. Many of us are familiar with comments, and with scribbling your thoughts on a friend’s poem in a WriterFeedPad.

Consequently, I decided to jot down some ideas about what makes a review different from a literary comment. For me, getting reviews helps me figure out how effective my writing has been in conveying my intentions. Getting literary comments, meanwhile, is a great way to strike up a conversation with someone who has similar interests, or get recommended some interesting reads and songs that might inspire your next literary work.

If you’ve seen any review-related posts by me, you’ll know what’s coming. Here is the made-up literary work of the day:

    ”Punctuation” by Liminality
    /

I’ll be using this to frame example reviews and comments for your viewing pleasure.

What are you writing?

Reviews on YWS are typically geared towards:
    1. Responding to the work
    2. Evaluating how the work was written

For example, the first line of this hypothetical review would be a response, and the second line would be an evaluation:

    The way I read it, this poem is about how punctuation is optional. The slash makes me think of its use as an abbreviation for ‘or’, as in a restaurant menu ‘salad/soup’, so I thought that was a good choice of punctuation mark, if this is the meaning you were going for.

Meanwhile, a literary comment tends to be purely a response. Maybe it has some extra components that are more reminiscent of posting on someone’s wall to chat with them. For instance:

    Hey Liminality! How are you doing? It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a work from you, and I was quite surprised to see that it was a one-word poem! (Or should I say . . . a one symbol poem?) Punctuation can be so tricky in poetry, and this poem somehow reminds me of that. Even placing one full stop in the wrong place can alter the whole poetry reading experience. Catch you later!

Who are you writing?

Literary comments are things I tend to post while being entirely myself. They are intended to be a little message from me to the author. When I’m reviewing, however, I partially imagine myself as the author. I ask myself: Would you want to hear about this in a review for your work? Would it help you improve your writing or motivate you to continue? Does it grow you, or is it too generic to be helpful?

More Examples

Here’s a tip from me about giving feedback on literary works: if you had something to say that doesn’t seem to fit a review, you could try putting it in a literary comment! Not everything that isn’t review-esque is necessarily bad feedback. While a review needs response and evaluation, a literary comment can provide a response and personal experiences. Here are some more examples to show what I mean!

These are reviews (or the first few lines of some reviews, at least):

    1. I immediately clicked when I saw the title. Then, reading the work made me laugh because I had been expecting something else, like maybe a rhyming poem about ‘correct’ punctuation. Instead, it’s just a slash, which makes me think about the meaning. I’m not 100% sure what you intended, but to me it sort of suggests that punctuation isn’t all as important as we make it out to be.

    2. Just intuitively, I feel like this work is kind of a cheeky poem, and it made me chuckle a little. I have definitely seen something like this before though on YWS, as in, works that just have one word or punctuation mark in them for giggles. I have to admit, the poem is kind of hard to understand because it’s so short and there’s no explanation. It reminds me of some of those avant-garde poems where you really need to know the context and why it was written to ‘get it’.

These are literary comments:

    1. I loved this piece! I really hate it when people go on and on about punctuation. I mean, I think it should be according to the author’s preference. When I was studying in school we had a really great English teacher and punctuation was the last thing on our minds. Who needs it, anyway?

    2. Nice poem. I think you should consider listening to John Cage. His song 4’33 is kind of like this too.

Overall

Though the Great Team Tortoise Race has concluded, reviewing never stops! Evaluating what other people are doing in a literary work can help us understand how to edit and revise our own works. Leaving literary comments is another great way to engage with other YWSers and show your support for their writing. There are many great resources in the Knowledge Base if you’re looking to improve your reviewing. This article gives a good index and overview of them.

Lastly, what are your thoughts on what makes a review? Share them with me on my Author Page!





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SHAMELESS PLUGS
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written by SquillsBot < PM: >

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We love to run articles and questions, but we also love to advertise for you. Let people know about your new blog, a poem or story you’re looking for reviews on, or a forum thread you’d like more traffic on through Squills’ Shameless Plugs. PM @SquillsBot with the exact formatting of your advertisement, contained in the following code.

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Send us yours~!





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Mon Aug 15, 2022 11:08 pm
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SUBSCRIBERS
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written by SquillsBot < PM: >

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Why should Caesar just get to stomp around like a giant while the rest of us try not to get smushed under his big feet? Brutus is just as cute as Caesar, right? Brutus is just as smart as Caesar, people totally like Brutus just as much as they like Caesar, and when did it become okay for one person to be the boss of everybody because that's not what Rome is about! We should totally just stab Caesar!
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