Midsummer Notes: Reflection for writers, poetry for kids, and escapism

Hello, friends! I haven't done as much deep work as I'd like this summer. There are less child-free hours in my day during these months, and I've come to realize that this is how things look for me and my family in the summertime. What I have managed to do is to keep at the process of writing this letter to you. The librarian in me loves the feeling of recommending a good book, sure, but beyond that — this letter has truly become an integral, organizing principle in my work. Let me explain.

I use Pocket and the Facebook 'saved post' feature. Whenever I'm reading online, I save articles and posts to these social media tools. Once a month, in preparation for this newsletter, I cull these lists and take the time to actually read through the articles I've saved, add notes to freelance project ideas or pitches in progress, and identify sources or digital archives that could be of use in the future. I also update my master list of editorial contacts if it's industry news that I've noted. (If you’re, too, starting to pitch projects or ideas, check out Ann Friedman’s list of editors here or join the Out of the Binders newsletter here).

If it's a book recommendation that I've saved, I'll update my private Amazon wish lists and/or place library holds on the titles I want to read next.

Sometimes, I'll pull quotes from particularly resonant pieces or articles and add them to my commonplace book (inspired by Ryan Holiday's method), or, I’ll add a note to my travel wish-list in Evernote. 

Perhaps this all sounds rather complicated and involved, but without a process for note-taking and organizing, my ideas would be lost. My memory is not photographic. Reading is an essential task of the writer. And I'd argue that processing, reflection and circling back is as well. 

On to the midsummer edition of links & notes!

Reads for Growns

38 years of books, through Michiko Kakutani's eyes. Measuring vocabulary height. Just added to my wish-list: Rise Speak Change: The Girls Write Now Anthology. Writers: submit a children's series idea to Amazon Studios. Still slow-reading Slow-Writing. Yay: the Girl Scouts add 23 new badges in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. A Tribute to Seth Godin's Book Recommendations. "I'm going to pass. Best of luck getting this published." Here (with two years of exhausting photographic detail) is how to write a book. How Rebecca Solnit Became the Voice of the Resistance. From the mixed-up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, fifty years later.


Following along with the conscious kid library on Insta. Such a neat concept: a newly discovered Mark Twain fairytale is going to be turned into a picture book (by Philip and Erin Stead). A gift-worthy book for an aspiring photographer. From refugees to voting rights, books to inspire a just, inclusive society. On the nightstand: Violet and Victor write the best-ever bookworm book by Alice Kuipers, A perfectly messed-up story by Patrick McDonnell, Every thing on it: poems and drawings by Shel Silverstein, and Dory and the real true friend by Abby Hanlon.


The New York Public Library has a podcast (two, even). Have you listened yet? This episode of the Food Blogger Pro podcast is a good one for those of you who are looking for tools and strategies to help with time management and productivity. Getting kids interested in poetry with Kwame Alexander.


This lady made my whole day (via Austin Kleon). If you need an excuse for watching anything at all in times like these: in defense of escapism. Looking forward to the 8-episode documentary from PBS, The Great American Read. Insecure, Anne with an E, and, unbelievably, 4 out of 7 episodes of Game of Thrones are already in the bag. (Super-fans: I highly recommend New York Times's #GOT newsletter that drops on Tuesdays. It's been getting me through the long week between episodes.)

The Compendium

... is my version of an evolving master list of some of the places, books, online spaces, tools, products, ideas, and things I'm digging. Check it out right here if you'd like.

Ciao, amici. Until next time!