Category Archives: Events
By Chelsea Bennett, Reference Department
NaNoWriMo: a silly word with quite an impact. It’s short for National Novel Writing Month. That’s exactly what it sounds like: on November 1, thousands of writers across the globe – representing all skill levels and genres – embark upon the task of writing a 50,000-word novel by the end of the month. It’s a worldwide network of strangers working towards a common, yet deeply individual, goal.
Maybe that idea stirs the coals of a latent creative passion in your soul. Perhaps November isn’t the month for you to start, but you’d like to know what writing resources are available. Whatever your situation, your library can help you achieve your writing goals.
First, a few words on National Novel Writing Month. 2017 marks the 18th year of this “fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing.” Their mission statement says, “National Novel Writing Month believes in the transformational power of creativity. We provide the structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds—on and off the page.” A little accountability goes a long way when it comes to starting, and completing, your novel. It can be as private a process as you like, but knowing that you have a daily word count to achieve might be just the impetus you need. Learn more, and sign up, at www.nanowrimo.org.
Before You Start
Writers are avid readers. So read! Read everything you can by your favorite authors. Figure out why you find them so irresistible. Is it the setting, the characters, the humor, the dialogue? Is it the fantastical atmosphere, the well-researched facts, the philosophizing?
Go deep, and branch out. Ask teachers, friends, and librarians which authors they enjoy, and why. Do Google searches for “books like [insert your favorite here].” Check out genre collections on Goodreads.com. Scour lists of literary prizewinners, and bestsellers. Spend an afternoon at your library, and pick something intriguing that’s outside of your preferred genre.
There’s a world of great writing out there, but don’t let the options overwhelm you. Above all, read for curiosity’s sake and for pleasure. In doing so, you will internalize the subtleties that distinguish compelling writing from something you don’t aspire to.
Resources for Writers
Once you have a sense of the writer you’d like to be, where do you start? Again, the library is your great friend here. Below, I’ll list of some of the books we have on our shelves, dealing with the art and craft of writing. They cover everything from the finer points of vocabulary and grammar, to genre writing specifics, to publishing tips, to the collected wisdom of respected writers – and everything in between!
Explore these vast offerings for yourself by visiting the non-fiction department, and browsing the shelves starting at call number 808. You’ll find valuable advice, no matter your objective.
Helpful Library Books
- Baty, Chris (founder of NaNoWriMo). No Plot? No Problem!: a low-stress, high-velocity guide to writing a novel in 30 days.
- Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces.
- Card, Orson Scott. How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy.
- Clark, Roy Peter. Help! For Writers: 210 solutions to the problems every writer faces.
- Cohen, Kerry. The Truth of Memoir: how to write about yourself and others with honesty, emotion, and integrity.
- Edwards, Jane. Travel Writing in Fiction and Fact.
- Field, Syd. Screenplay: the foundations of screenwriting.
- Gioia, Diana, and R. S. Gwynn, editors. The Art of the Short Story: 52 great authors, their best short fiction, and their insights on writing.
- Gutkind, Lee. The Art of Creative Nonfiction: writing and selling the literature of reality.
- Hanley, Victoria. Wild Ink: how to write fiction for young adults.
- Johnson, Charles. The Way of the Writer: reflections on the art and craft of storytelling.
- King, Stephen. On Writing: a memoir of the craft.
- Lerner, Betsy. The Forest for the Trees: an editor’s advice to writers.
- Percy, Benjamin. Thrill Me: essays on fiction.
(With thanks to my writer friend, Joshua Cook. His top recommendations are underlined.)
Starting to Write
Do you feel equipped to start writing yet? Great! What are you going to write about? Your personal observations and experiences are all you need to get started. Inspiration for all styles of writing will crop up in the most ordinary or unexpected places. For example, writersdigest.com says George Orwell “watched as a young boy steered a massive cart horse along a narrow path, and … was struck by an unusual thought: What if animals realized their own strength?” That idle thought grew into his novel, Animal Farm.
Creative inspiration works in surprising ways. Be open to new ways of viewing your daily life.
Start writing, keep writing, and don’t give up. Some days might feel like a slog: as the saying goes, “Crawl, but don’t quit.” It’s easier to maintain momentum than to keep stopping and restarting!
Everyone can benefit from an outside opinion. Check in with a loved one every now and then to see if what you’re writing is coherent and relatable.
Find a friend who enjoys proofreading and editing, and see if they can help you towards the finish line. (Note: proofreading and editing are essential services. Be prepared to offer some kind of compensation, even if your friend is not a professional.)
Eventually, you’ll have a finished work you’re happy with. Now to decide what to do with it! If you want to self-publish, the library is once again at your service.
On Williamson County Public Library’s homepage, under eLibrary, there’s a link called “SELF-e for Authors.” SELF-e, provided by Library Journal, “is a discovery platform designed to expose your ebook(s) to more readers via public libraries locally and nationwide.” Find out more at http://self-e.libraryjournal.com/author-faqs/.
You’ll also find “Pressbooks Self-Publishing” under eLibrary. It’s a great formatting tool to get your book ready for digital and physical publishing. Both of these services are available to you, free, with your WCPL library card number.
We hope you feel empowered to start writing, knowing that your library is here to help you along the way! Enjoy NaNoWriMo. Maybe we’ll see your finished work in our collection someday soon.
- National Novel Writing Month, www.nanowrimo.org
- George Orwell anecdote, www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/the-ideas-that-inspired-the-hobbit-animal-farm-8-other-famous-books
- Williamson County Public Library eLibrary page, http://lib.williamson-tn.org/e_library
By Cindy Schuchardt, Reference Department
The kids are out of school, the temperature is rising, and the world is in bloom. The good ole’ summertime has arrived in Middle Tennessee, bringing with it outdoor fun, visits to the park or pool, and summer camp. Students may also amuse themselves watching TV, playing video games or viewing funny You Tube videos. Seems like we’re forgetting something, doesn’t it? Oh, that’s right! Reading!
Reading can be a fun part of the summer, too! WCPL participates in a Cooperative Summer Library Program that offers programming and reading adventures for all ages (children, teens and adults), and we encourage everyone to participate. It may not seem like it because it’s so much fun, but summer reading also offers some important benefits:
- Helps young children to build foundational reading and language skills
- Prepares school-age children for success by developing their language skills
- Motivates teens to read and discuss literature
- Helps to prevent summer reading loss, a.k.a. the “summer slide”
- Encourages adults to experience the joy of reading
- And, if you’re already a voracious reader, you can win prizes for what you already do!
With this year’s “Build a Better World” program, we invite patrons of all ages to try something new this summer. Read a new book. Participate in our Make-A-Thon on Saturday, June 3. Enjoy our free events. Get out the house, meet new people, and learn how to help our community.
Registration for the children’s program began on May 20 and runs through July 29. Readers and pre-readers alike can sign up to be a part of the fun. A simple activity card for each age group features 25 different activities. When the kids complete any six of the activities, they receive a free paperback book of their choice. After completing six more activities, they receive another prize. There will be free program for kids of all ages on Thursdays in June and July, including an animal show, a magic act, a ventriloquist, and more!
Teens will have their own special program, which will encourage them to read and track the number of books they have completed. After accomplishing some specific goals, students’ names will be entered into prize drawings. There will be three tiers of prizes, and the winners will be revealed at a special “lock-in” celebration toward the end of the summer.
Adults are included, too! All adults who submit a book review will be eligible for a weekly prize drawing. Prizes are donated by local businesses. And hey, we know you have enough to do, so there is no registration required for adults. A handwritten (or emailed) book review is all that is needed to put you in the running for a prize. Free programs for adults will include “Life Reimagined,” “Pet Care,” “Fraud Prevention” and more! Check web site frequently throughout your summer, so you won’t miss out on anything.
So what are you waiting for? Grab a good book at the library, and help us to “Build a Better World.”
NaNoWriMo. It’s pronounced exactly how it looks – weird. So, what is it? Aspiring writers, fasten your pen caps; this just might be the nudge you need to finish the novel you haven’t even started yet.
What is it?
NaNoWriMo stands for “National Novel Writing Month”. That’s right, MONTH. Participants have 30 days to begin and complete a novel of at least 50,000 words. Writing starts November 1st and ends at 11:59 PM on November 30th.
Wait, why? Some history…
It began in the summer of 1999 when a group of 20-somethings got together for the month of July to write novels. They had no concrete motives, or real experience for that matter. They simply wanted to do something with their time that was different from what everyone else was doing, and so they wrote novels. A quote from one of the founders explains why people across the nation are now dedicating their Novembers to this unique way of writing:
“We had taken the cloistered, agonized novel-writing process and transformed it into something that was half literary marathon and half block party.
We called it noveling. And after the noveling ended on August 1, my sense of what was possible for myself, and those around me, was forever changed. If my friends and I could write passable novels in a month, I knew, anyone could do it.”
Should I Participate?
The short answer is, YES.
Anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel is encouraged to do so, novices and novelists alike. And even if you don’t reach the goal of 50,000 words, you’ll have at least jumpstarted your writing project!
The official NaNoWriMo website allows anyone older than 13 to participate. Teens ages 13 to 17 can participate in their Young Writers Program. (Click here for their website).
How does it work?
These steps will get you started. For detailed info, we’ve provided the official NaNoWriMo website below:
- Go to http://nanowrimo.org/ and create your profile.
- Find an organization near you that will be hosting NaNoWriMo events (yes, Williamson County Library is one of them!). Writing alongside other NaNoWriMo authors gives you inspiration and an uninterrupted timeslot to crank out those beautiful words! Also, there could be free coffee.
- Start writing your novel! Writing officially begins on November 1st, but if you have something you’ve already outlined or started to write, there are no rules against continuing your work.
And after I write my novel?
As of November 20th participants can paste their novel to the official NaNoWriMo website. You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you completed your 50,000 words and you may win some prizes along the way! The NaNoWriMo Non-Profit organization also supports the process of revision and publishing.
Previous writers have gone on to publish their novels themselves or traditionally. Famous NaNoWriMo novels include: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, Wool by Hugh Howey, The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough, and Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress by Marissa Meyer.
Even if you don’t produce an instant bestseller, you’ll still have written your very own novel in one month!
So sign up, start writing, and don’t forget to join us at the Williamson County Library for our local NaNoWriMo events!
By Brian W. Christman, professor and vice chair of Vanderbilt’s Department of Medicine as well as chief of medical service at the Veteran Affairs’ Tennessee Valley Health Care System
It is always a bit of a challenge to explain why a physician, a person so intensely interested in the well-being of other people, would move away from the world and craft a few lines about a scene, an observation, or a thought. Sometimes it comes from a sense of obligation, the feeling that someone should think a bit longer about a solitary widow taking a shaving bag home, or a veteran patient smoking and telling stories at sunset, or the obvious but unspoken respect of a granddaughter for the recuperating patriarch. It seems to me that doctors are privileged to be with people during critical episodes in their lives and should not remain unmoved by events and interactions.
Occasionally there is just a snatch of nature, like the endlessly erasing shoreline at sunrise, begging in an undescribed language for translation. Often there is just a phrase, or part of a story, that resonates with a previous experience and sculpts a partial memory into something new.
But this explanation claims too much high ground. Sometimes I just like to noodle around with words and phrases about a topic until something comes together with its own rhythm, rhyme, and silence. It feels good to distill.
By Douglas Landon Hester, an anesthesiologist whose academic work focuses on airway management and resident education
I suspect I’m a poet and a physician for the same reasons. In both, small details define major issues. In both, precision matters. In both, the right word in the right way can help someone. In both, I believe I’m using talents as a steward. In both, there is a wonderful tension between science and art.
In both, relationships are ultimately the bottom line. Whether I am offering a specific drug or procedure or I am trying to connect with a reader I have never met, it is the common humanity between us that allows me to be a physician and a poet.
Medicine and poetry are, for me, about people. I’m blessed to do both.
By Irene Planchard Mathieu, a writer and medical student at Vanderbilt University
Being a medical poet has often meant poetic isolation, immersed as I am in the intense educational world of medicine. I have felt very isolated jotting down lines between patients during busy days in the hospital or writing in my apartment after long nights of studying. Last summer, I had the opportunity to attend my first poetry workshop, a two-week immersive experience in Rhode Island. It was like opening the door to the little closet in which I’ve been writing alone and seeing that my small room is part of a sprawling, underground mansion where so many beautiful souls live, each one in a different room, who decorate the mansion’s rock walls with studded jewels and feathers and scraps of cloth.
On the last night of workshop a fellow poet asked me about the parallels between medicine and poetry. I began with the response that I have explicated elsewhere, but as I spoke I realized that my answer had evolved significantly as a result of the past two weeks. It isn’t just that poetry and medicine both offer a window into the totality of human experience, an intimacy with the human condition that few other professions offer.
Just as there are an “art and science” of medicine, there are both art and science in poetics. I often describe the role of science in medicine as analogous to the role of language in human communication. The point of learning another language usually isn’t simply for the love of language itself (although certainly that love is real and important and can be part of the motivation). Usually the primary purpose of mastering language is for communication, just as a deep understanding of science allows us to use medicine in the service of other people. The memorization of medications and amino acids does not a competent physician make. But this fund of knowledge is the language we use to navigate disease and to describe health and illness. Similarly, strong vocabulary, understanding of literary symbols and devices, and grammatical knowledge are the tools of meaning-making in poetics.
There are systematic ways to approach reading and writing poetry. I can dissect a poem in order to understand or edit it. There is basic anatomy that must be grasped before we can understand poetry or create great work. In poetry, anatomy consists of form, literary devices, symbols, and metaphors. These and other components provide the framework for the poem’s content. As physicians, we must understand the parts of our patients’ bodies – how individuals’ organs do or don’t function, what is “normal” for each person. But we also must remember that a person is not simply her or his body. A person has a body. Who a person is is analogous the content of the poem.
In medicine and poetry, in order to break the rules effectively we have to learn them thoroughly. Learning medicine in a classroom and practicing medicine in a clinic or hospital are two very different things. In the classroom we learn basic rules, mechanisms, and protocols. But rarely do patients fit our textbook definitions. And when they do, their diseases rarely occur in isolation. In clinical settings we have to account for patients’ other ailments and medications, medical history, age, sex, body weight/size, psychosocial conditions, values and goals, etc. Given this, what are the chances that we can do exactly the same thing the same way for every patient with ostensibly the “same” disease? Good physicians learn the textbook rules so they can understand when and how to adapt the knowledge to individual circumstances. Good poets learn the rules of poetry – about structure, form, use of literary devices, grammar – before they can break them to great effect.
Poetry and medicine are both a practice. They must be done consistently to be done well and require lifelong learning. In order to become a better poet you have to become a better reader. In order to improve as a doctor, you have to keep studying and learning about developments in the field. This is the duty of the committed poet or physician. It’s one aspect of professionalism. Professionalism also requires love of the field – a commitment to the evolution of scientific knowledge or of poetics. It requires being a team player – as a medical colleague, an editor, or a mentor to trainees in medicine and in poetry. It requires integrity; in both fields, this means checking our egos frequently and thoroughly.
Of course, poetry and medicine have many differences. I do believe poems have the power to heal and that poetry can be a matter of life and death; why else would so many brutal governing regimes around the world exile prominent poets time and again? Why else would words be censored in times of unrest? But poems are not people. Art imitates life, or vice versa, but art isn’t synonymous with life, and relating to patients is a completely different experience from relating to poems. While I have spent the last several years learning how to do the former, my poetry workshop was an intense course on how to do the latter. For a physician, patients must always come first. For me, poetry happens to come second. I believe the discipline, objective analysis, commitment, integrity, and heart required in each field can fortify my practice of the other.
You’re a doctor. What is this poetry-writing thing? People wonder, though are usually too polite to put the question quite so baldly. Poetry? A pretty pointless way to spend one’s time, isn’t it? Shouldn’t you be out saving lives? Or something?
What good, really, is a song, or a painting? Why pick a blue-glazed platter when a cheap plastic one will do? All I can really say is that beauty, arranging things in an interesting way, creating useful or intriguing patterns, is simply something humans do, an essential part of being who we are.
As physicians, we are extraordinarily privileged, instantly taken into the lives of patients, their friends and families, often in very sad and tragic times. We see human bodies, inside and out, and hear how people make do, how they tell their stories, how they cope—or don’t—with loneliness or disability. We have our own stories to tell, inside the hospital and at home, living in this brilliant and fractious world.
So why do doctors do creative stuff? Because that’s what human beings do, and, lord knows, we have a lot to be creative about. So why poetry? Well, for no good reason. I just like words, the jangling sounds and rhythm of words, the meanings we stretch between them. I just do.
Award-winning author Sara J. Henry will conduct a novel-writing workshop on Saturday, March 21 at 2:00 pm. In “How to Write a Book that Grabs the Reader and Doesn’t Let Go,” Henry will discuss strong openings and review some – participants are encouraged to bring in a copy of a favorite novel – and talk about why these openings work. She also will critique on paper opening pages of participants’ work – please bring up to ten pages, double-spaced (some will be discussed aloud, with participants’ permission, anonymously if desired). Henry will also cover the importance of pacing and how to keep things moving; choosing what tense and person to use; what genre your work falls into; how to find critique partners and how to utilize critiques; the importance of revision; tips on making your manuscript come alive. She will also touch on how to write a query letter (bring yours, if you have one) and select the right agent, and talk about the pros and cons of self-publishing.
Sara J. Henry is a native of Oak Ridge, Tennessee. She graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and has a Master’s degree in Journalism from Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario. She was an editor at Rodale Books and at Women’s Sports & Fitness magazine, and attended Squaw Valley Writers Conference. She has edited many nonfiction books, worked as a correspondence writing school instructor, written for numerous magazines, and written and co-written nonfiction books on health and fitness. (She’s also been a soil scientist, website designer, and bicycle mechanic, among other professions.)
Her first novel, Learning to Swim (2011), won the Anthony Award for Best First Novel, the Agatha Award for Best First Novel, and the Mary Higgins Clark Award. Her second novel, A Cold and Lonely Place (2013), won the Silver Falchion Award and was nominated for the Anthony Award.
Henry’s workshop is sponsored by the Williamson County Library Foundation. There is no cost to attend, but seating is limited, and registration is required. Register online at http://lib.williamson-tn.org/ or call 615-595-1243.
By Julie Duke, Youth Services Manager
The Book Release Party was a drop in program for families. We had both soldiers and civilians, including ladies in beautiful hoop skirts, for the visitors to meet and greet. General Grant was also there, and President Abraham Lincoln (aka Dennis Boggs, who to me is the quintessential Lincoln, charming and personable) gave the Gettysburg Address. My husband, Lawrence, brought some of his collection of original Civil War artifacts, and the Tennessee State Museum loaned us a trunk of hands on CW clothing and equipment. It was delightful to see the kids dress up in the period clothing. On the Foundation’s Facebook page, you can see photos of the event, https://www.facebook.com/wmclf. I lost count, but there was about 100 patrons on Sunday.
By Julie Duke, Youth Services Manager
The Library’s Foundation’s ticketed event, An Evening with Storytellers, brought in over 60 library supporters, and the Foundation made over $1,000. Speakers were Eric Jacobsen, CEO of Carter house and Carnton Plantation, Thomas Flagel, History Instruction at Columbia State CC, and Bryan Lane, who recently published a book on General Adams, on of the Generals killed at Franklin.
One gentleman, who had purchased a book at this event evening, was also at the Book Release Party. He said he had read the book cover to cover, and it was “excellent”. A woman who was at the Storytellers evening was back on at the Book Release to buy another book! She said that she had company visiting from out of town. They were seeing the sites in Franklin, and used our book as a guide as they toured.