In the bleak midwinter
Plus, a survey for you! (& as usual, gif at the end.)
If you read nothing else of this newsletter, please click here and fill out this survey!
Hello all! Happy December! If you did NaNoWriMo, congratulations! Even if you only added a few thousand words to your manuscript, that’s still an accomplishment. November is a weird month, and it certainly was weird for me (in good ways, don’t worry.) The long death march to the holidays has passed the Thanksgiving Canyon and is hurtling towards Christmas Chaos, and everyone I know is just waiting for the solstice so we can start seeing sunlight after 4pm again.
To that end, this newsletter will be taking a hiatus for the last two weeks of December, so next week’s newsletter (the 14th) will be the last for 2021! I’ll be doing a little gift guide/year wrap-up, though I may save the true Best Books Read in 2021 for after the new year, since I always read about four million books when I’m home for the holiday.
It’s been immensely rewarding committing to this newsletter this year. The past two years have had ups and downs (and downs, and downs) for most of us, and being able to send out my silly little thoughts on books and writing and hockey and the occasional political issue every week has been a lovely practice for me over the last eight months. Eight! Eight months! In 2021, I’ve sent out 32 newsletters, counting this one. It’ll be 33 for the year, and 67 total once I send out next week’s. (So close to being able to say it. So close.)
Looking at my stats, it looks like there have been a few posts that really resonated: Cart, Horse from October, about procrastination, seemed to be one of them, as well as Nominally, On Giving Up from August, about giving up on books that aren’t working for you (and also my intense love for Patricia Lockwood.) My personal favorite from the last year is July’s Not Unlike Rebuilding a House.
I love writing these posts. I love talking about books that I enjoyed, and I love putting these newsletters together. I love figuring out which links I’m going to include, and what excerpts to use; I love picking a gif for the end of the newsletter of my silly hockey boys doing silly hockey things.
But as I move into the ninth month of doing this newsletter regularly, I can’t help but wonder, Carrie Bradshaw style- do YOU love them? do YOU love the links and memes and rambling about George Saunders? I get more engagement in replies than in comments but I don’t have a lot of insight into what is working (or not) for the readers of this here newsletter.
To that end, I’ve put together a survey, which I would be immensely grateful if the 42% of you who open this newsletter on the reg would take. (And if the other slightly-more-than-half of you would like to take it as well, even better!) Please be honest (but not mean) and let me know what’s working, what’s not, and what you’d like to see more of. I am going to keep doing this newsletter as long as there is interest, and I’d like your help in determining what that interest is.
You can take the survey here! And here are the links again for the NaNo handouts for anyone who missed them:
Week One: Plot
Week Two: Character
Week Three: The Dreaded Middle
Week Four: What Comes Next?
The survey! Tell me your thoughts and feelings please!
THIS WEEK IN HOCKEY
My beloved Caps, who were doing quite well to start the season, had two garbage games against two garbage teams (the Panthers and the Bl*ckh*wks, respectively) and are setting up some upsetting trends. Please don’t do this to me, fellas! Elsewhere in the league, enfant dipshit Brendan Lemieux of the Kings straight up bit Brady Tkachuk during a game against the Senators, showing that the apple sometimes does not fall far from the tree. And congratulations to my Civil War Husband Braden Holtby, who just did something statistically cool that I don’t necessarily understand. Hockeys, man. Love their stats!
I Moved to a Remote Cabin To Write, And I Hate It by Blair Braverman (Outside)
You are living an interesting story. The most interesting story, in this case, is the truth: that you’ve gone to the woods to find meaning and you cannot find it. That you are trying every day, without witnesses, without even neighbors, and still you can’t bring yourself to care about wild geese. Plenty of people have believed that nature would save them; fewer have the guts to admit when it doesn’t. And now you’re stuck with the same problems you had before but you don’t even have a toilet. That’s interesting. And it’s funny. I would read that book.
How Your DNA Could Catch A Killer by Raffi Khatchadourian (New Yorker)
Having hit another obstacle, Scharf began to consider a new approach: forensic genealogy. For years, genealogists had been using ever-larger private DNA databases to compare genetic information among populations, allowing them to chart family networks more completely. What if those same tools could be used with the DNA that detectives had gathered back in 1987?
Product Placement in Korean Dramas: Love it or hate it? by Jae-Ha Kim (Kocowa Blog)
With the worldwide popularity of K-dramas, many companies were happy to jump on the product placement bandwagon. But none have done so with as much gusto as Subway, which may be the most ubiquitous product to appear in all of K-Dramaland. Subway appears in so many Korean productions that it may as well get a co-starring role. “Good Doctor,” “Goblin,” “Doctors,” “Homemade Love Story,” and “Descendants of the Sun” are just some of the Korean dramas where the submarine sandwich chain is featured prominently as a breakfast joint, place to meet for a date, and just an all-around cool destination. In “Record of Youth,” the writers went a step further and had the male lead (played by Park Bo Gum of “Love in the Moonlight”) actually work at a Subway restaurant.
READING: If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha
WATCHING: Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha
LISTENING: Red (Taylor’s Version) by Taylor Swift
This has been A Faster No, a dispatch on publishing, writing, books, and beyond. All opinions are my own. You can support the newsletter here. If you purchase a book from any of the links to Bookshop.org I get a small commission at no cost to you. I am available for developmental editing and editorial assessment services via Reedsy.