Welcome back to the Write, Publish, and Shine Podcast!

In this episode, it is my pleasure to bring in my colleague, Meli Walker, who facilitates that aforementioned community, to talk about everything we learned by hosting a book club for writers. We talk about what worked, what didn’t work as well, and go through each of the seventeen books we read since our book club launched, giving our take on their key offerings.

So, listen if you’ve been looking for books to support your writing practice, or maybe a list of books to give another writer in your life, or if you’ve been wanting to read with a community of writers, too, and need some guidance to get started.

You don’t need to have a pen handy to jot down the seventeen titles we cover. I’ve got you with the complete list and links to the books in the show notes for this episode…

All the books—titles and links to the 17 books we discuss in this episode (in order of mention)

Here is an outline of the episode with timestamps:

00:01 Introduction to today’s episode.
03:40 Why did we start a book club?
10:09 Not every book has everything in it and it’s ok to take some and leave some.
13:05 Craft in the Real World by Matthew Salesses
14:27 The Anti-Racist Writing Workshop by Felicia Rose Chavez
19:04 Appropriate by Paisley Rekdal
19:43 In / Appropriate edited by Kim Davids Mandar
23:02 Body Work The Radical Power of Personal Narrative by Melissa Febos
26:26 Never Say You Can’t Survive by Charlie Jane Anders
28:37 A Swim in a Pond in the Rain by George Saunders
31:36 The Art of Slow Writing: Reflections on Time, Craft, and Creativity by Louise De Salvo
33:28 Breathing the Page: Reading the Act of Writing by Betsy Warland
37:07 Braving the Fire, A Guide to Writing About Grief and Loss by Jessica Handler
39:12 In a Flash! Writing & Publishing Dynamic Flash Prose by Melanie Faith
40:45 Meander, Spiral, Explode: Design and Pattern in Narrative by Jane Alison
45:07 Seven Drafts: Self-Edit Like a Pro from Blank Page to Book by Allison K. Williams
47:29 The Artful Edit: On the Practice of Editing Yourself by Susan Bell
49:36 The Extroverted Writer: An Author’s Guide to Marketing and Building a Platform by Amanda Luedeke
51:25 Before and After the Book Deal: A Writer’s Guide to Finishing, Publishing, Promoting, and Surviving Your First Book, by Courtney Maum
52:36 The Business of Being a Writer by Jane Friedman

#62 Write, Publish, Shine Episode Transcript

Rachel Thompson, Meli Walker

Rachel Thompson:
Welcome luminous writers to the Write, Publish and Shine podcast. Welcome luminous writers to the Write, Publish and Shine podcast. I’m your host, author, and literary magazine editor Rachel Thompson. This podcast explores how to write and share your brilliant writing with the world. In each episode, we delve into specifics on how to polish and prepare your writing for publication and the journey from emerging writer to published author.

In this episode, it is my pleasure to bring in my colleague, Meli Walker, who facilitates that aforementioned community, to talk about everything we learned by hosting a book club for writers. We talk about what worked, what didn’t work as well, and go through each of the seventeen books, yes, seventeen, we read since our book club launched, giving our take on their key offerings. So, listen if you’ve been looking for books to support your writing practice, or maybe you’re looking for a list of books to give another writer in your life, or if you’ve been wanting to read with a community of writers, too, and need some guidance to get started, this is the episode for you. You don’t need to have a pen handy to jot down the seventeen titles we cover. I’ve got you with the complete list and links to the books in the show notes for this episode, which are up at rachelthompson.co/podcast. This is episode number 62, so can jump right to our show notes at rachelthompson.co/podcast/62.

Thank you so much Meli Walker for joining me today. Meli Walker is the community facilitator for our community, our Writerly Love Membership Community. We’re going to be talking about why we created a book club within the community, so we can read books on writing with other writers or writing related books or books geared towards writers, we’re gonna go through all the books, so you will understand the variety of books we read as well. And what we learned from that experience; we’ll go through substantively with some of the books as well. But I do want to just start by saying welcome to you, Meli. Thanks for joining me.

Meli Walker:
Hi, thanks for having me, happy to talk about books.

Rachel Thompson:
So, when we started the book club, it was something that people in the community were really excited about. They’re all writers, I should clarify who the people in the community are, so they’re emerging writers, by and large, or writers who are working towards their first book publication, maybe pretty close to their first book publication. A few not as many have already published a book and are maybe working on the next book. Is that fair to say? Is that the right profile of our writing community Meli?

Meli Walker:
Yeah, I think so.

Rachel Thompson:
So why did we start the book club? I can’t remember exactly where the idea came from. But we did start a book club. And I guess what some of the reasons were that we started it. The main thing was just feeling, for me anyway, that I wanted to read more books about craft or books that people were talking about that were writing related. And I thought it would be interesting to read it with other writers, create a little accountability to actually do the reading, and be able to discuss the ideas in the books with other writers in a real concrete way.

Meli Walker:
Yeah, I remember that people were excited about the fact that we were starting a book club as another feature of the programming in the community. And I sort of feel like 2020ness was involved. That is when we started it. And so, we were all online, I guess a bit more, and sort of connecting with each other. And this became another way to do that around writing.

Rachel Thompson:
Yeah, and wanting to read more books versus doom-scrolling the news or whatever else was kind of pulling our attention away. I think that was good motivation for a lot of people too. Let’s talk a bit about the purpose of reading craft books in our community, although we you’ll hear that we didn’t just read craft books. So, I want to start by talking about the purpose of reading craft books in our community. But actually, starting with the couple of writers I follow or admire, who say that they’re against reading craft books, including writer like Becky Tuch, and Courtney Maum, whoever, and her newsletter and Becky Tuch, who came to speak to our membership community. People were asking,

“Oh, well, what are some craft books that you recommend?”

Because we’re reading books in the club. And that she thought, there’s a lot to be said for not worrying too much about getting the craft stuff perfectly right, and just sort of giving yourself over to your quirky interests, and whatever they are.

Her point being that there was so little time to read. So, you might as well-read things that interest you that relate to what you’re writing about, versus books on the ins and outs of craft. So, reading craft books can become a ‘should’ for writers. And I think I agree that we should always follow our passion. So certainly, there’s some of the books that we read in book club that I didn’t complete reading, because I wasn’t feeling it. And I think we’re encouraging that of writers who are readers and our community to follow the joy and the fun. What is your thoughts Meli on the idea that you shouldn’t be reading craft books necessarily. And then also, I guess, putting that up against our list, because we didn’t read only mechanical craft books.

Meli Walker:
I think that it’s a good thing to remember that reading all the books about writing doesn’t really replace writing. And I guess I say that from my own personal experience, I grew up reading books, as probably lots of writers did, I completed the summer reading list every year. And I liked getting those like stickers to read all the books, and I was a rule follower and that I would read the book from start to finish. Once I started the book, I would finish it. And I think that pointing out that sometimes we can get too fixated on following advice rather than practicing the art and plan. And also I like the call to read what interests us and read things because we want to rather than this list of books that we’re told were meant to read in order to be good writers, that if we haven’t read a certain book, if we don’t have Elements of Style on a shelf, then we aren’t going to be successful and writing good work.

I also like that, if you’re a fiction writer, a good novel can teach you just as much about craft as a craft book, I think, it’s my opinion, and a memoir, writing memoir myself like, I just read What My Bones Know, like Stephanie Foo. And I know you’re reading that to Rachel. And I guess I just mentioned that as a really resonate book for me. And I learned a lot about writing memoirs from that book, even though I’m not necessarily going to like list those points out, it just sorts of “knowing it when I see it” kind of thing. We’ve been making everything optional in our book club. So, we have, I guess we’ll get into this sort of structure of it.

But anyways, the point is, that we invite people to participate without having read the book, so that you’re not kind of sculpting into the book club kind of going like,

“We made it to chapter four!” and treating it like a bit of a survey, almost allowing writers to decide whether that book is for them. So yeah, I think that’s a positive aspect of it, to invite people to say to themselves,

“I’m not feeling this book, I don’t have to finish this book.”

Giving yourself permission to leave something and say,

“Thank you for that. But that’s maybe not for me at this time.”

Even sometimes books come along at the right time. And that really becomes meaningful. So, if something is not resonating, or if you’re reading craft books out of a sense of obligation, I feel like is a restrictive place to be rather than a playful place to be.

Rachel Thompson:
So before starting the book club, I think, you know, you just hear from so many writers who’d read Stephen King’s on writing book and the harm that’s done, I think, from the idea that,

“Oh, writers write every day.”

And that’s what you have to do. And I don’t know, I can’t even remember if that was like his thesis, and he said, “You must”, but that’s what people took away from it. That’s not something that works for writers who are writing difficult materials. Sometimes they need to take breaks actually. And so, it’s okay, it’s just like a self-preservation thing to be able to say,

“I’m not going to write every day.”

That’s just one example. But one of the things I liked about having the book club too is you know, we were selective about the books we chose, and most of them we did resonate with. I think I did it anyway, and they weren’t always so cut and dry that, this is the way you should write. Times where they were, we were able to go

“Oh, well, you know, that’s nice. But that doesn’t work for me.”

There was something more permissive, I guess, to be able to do it in a community and discuss it and say,

“Yeah, I’m taking this from that, but I’m not taking the other.”

Meli Walker:
Yeah, I think having it be part of a group of people that already know what the vibe of the group is a container of shared values of people that join the community, and may have had experience working with one another, or talking about writing together gives more permission to say, when something doesn’t work. And I think it occurs to me too, that not every book has everything in it. I mean, to follow a book on craft as though it’s a sort of Bible, I think can be limiting. And I guess I’m obviously asserting myself as someone who’s not necessarily going to follow the rules as much as I used to. So, I guess, take that with a grain of salt. But anyway, it’s just occurring to me that not every book is perfect. And so, it’s okay to take some and leave some, and to be able to do that in a group that agrees that ‘disagreement is okay.’

Rachel Thompson:
Yeah, I love that ‘Agrees with disagreement.’ It’s good. And it’s true, I think we have that trust, where it’s like, even though we come together in a community, we individually have our own style and our own way of approaching this thing called Writing. We just all share this habit, this calling of becoming writers, but it doesn’t mean that we do it all the same way, precisely.

Meli Walker:
Yeah, there’s no limit to being a writer. It’s like, on the one hand, you want someone to say something in their book, like, ‘tell me something, don’t be safe, don’t sit on the fence.”

But on the other hand, a kind of authoritarian or singular approach doesn’t work either.

Rachel Thompson:
So, we’re going to introduce the books and talk about each of them that we read in the community, and maybe mention it a little bit about our personal favorites, as well. So, I hope listeners take away from this potential book list. If you’re interested in reading some books related to craft, it’s not all just craft though. I mentioned, there’s also ones related to platform building, because we were, as a community, more focused on that for a while. But I think maybe we’re stepping away from it, as all the platforms become more and more clearly toxic and harmful for people. But there was a time when we were looking at that more specifically as well.

So, this isn’t in the order of reading, necessarily, but maybe I will start with these first two books that actually relate more to how we workshop, which I think have for me been the most useful books as the workshop facilitator, because we have a workshop within our community as well. And I know writers in our community have taken a lot away from these books, because they were working on how they themselves approach workshops, as they’re in the workshop.

So, the first of those mentioned is Craft in the Real World by Matthew Salesses, the subtitle of that is Rethinking Fiction Writing and Workshopping. I mentioned that we’re not all fiction writers in our community, but I use in my teaching, when I’m working with writers, the revision exercises in there, the thoughts on positionality, like this book came in, that expressed something that was not working in workshop. For years, I was uncomfortable in workshop. And it provided a way, this book, reference, and it’s one of the two books that I’m mentioning both reference, Liz Lerman’s workshop style that’s used in theater and how they adapted it to use in workshop. And now we ourselves have further adapted the adaptations of that and using it in workshop as well. So, I really can’t emphasize enough how much I reference this book when it comes to working with other writers. But also, writers who aren’t even workshopping would benefit from it too, because it has these great revision practices, these insights about how to do revision which is not a bit of craft that is that common to find in books I find often they’re more focused on generating.

So that was the one and then the second one was The Anti-Racist Writing Workshop, How to Decolonize the Creative Classroom by Felicia Rose Chavez. This book, also, really changed how I run reading workshops. And I think it was good to read it as a community too and have uncomfortable conversations. We are a community from different backgrounds, but definitely the majority of our members are white women like me. And so, to be able to see the possibility in workshop to be not racist, but anti-racist expressly, I think came across in that book very well. It was one more read heard from at least one member anyway, who thought,

“Well, I’m not running a workshop. So, is this really the book for me?”

But I think decentralizing workshop and making us all accountable to each other is really important. It’s like a value for me in terms of how I want to approach community to is not just like with one authority, but everyone becoming versed in how to make our spaces, not just more inclusive, but actively engage in changing dynamics and systems of oppression. And that book also talks about Liz Lerman practice. I think I probably took more from that one in terms of how she has adapted it for the way that she runs workshop. And the main thing that might blow some writers’ minds if you’ve been in traditional workshops for over the years as I was, is the idea that the cone of silence that’s supposed to fall upon the person who’s writing, is being workshopped. It reinforces similar things around power. And it was very helpful.

As Felicia Rose Chavez said for white men who needed to be told to be quiet because they were used to having their voices heard. But it can actually be very harmful for people who have been silenced. And I think it’s really important for writers to be able to communicate and speak up while their writing is being workshopped. Do you have anything you wanted to add about those two books, Meli, because I feel like we will spend a little bit more time on them and a couple others, because they’re so central to the progress of our community too really.

Meli Walker:
Yeah, I appreciate both of those books for their impact on me personally, as a writer, and how I share my work with other people and thinking about privilege and power in that process, in both cases, and both of those books. And I really appreciate the impact that the books have had on our community, and like you said, on our workshop, I’m appreciating that there are books that pay attention to that, because we don’t need to harm each other when we’re making our act together. And I believe, it’s coming from theater, I believe in a more collaborative process than is sometimes presented in the literary world or in the writing world. Because I think writing is seen as a practice, we do it by ourselves. However, I don’t think we do anything alone.

So, these books are pointing at power and privilege in the dynamics of workshop and sharing, writing, and also call upon each of us to think about how we impact other people’s art. And yeah, and coming from theater asking questions, as a way of responding to work is something I feel like is more characteristic of the theatre process, the collaborative nature of theater, I appreciate the critical response process, the Liz Lerman critical response process, being part of those books. But also, both of those books being published rather recently. I think it’s also a strength of them, because they’re taking that thought, those theories and making them applicable for a wider range of people, for people that haven’t always had a voice in the workshop space.

Rachel Thompson:
A little bit of context of that, although we’re gonna get on to the books, but it’s like, every person of color, every indigenous or black person that I’ve spoken to about their experience, workshopping has had a negative, dehumanizing, terrible experience, historically, I would say I mean, maybe it’s not- It’s everyone who I’ve actually had that conversation with. So maybe it’s not every single person. But it just goes beyond that. Let’s put it that way. So, we’re going to talk about a few more books that we read. Are you going to do the next two Meli?

Meli Walker:
So, we also read Appropriate by Paisley Rekdal. I think the standout comments from readers in our community on that book was that they appreciated the letter writing form of the book. The author is writing to a student about the question of appropriation and writing about the other or others. And we sort of appreciated the depth that, that one author was giving to the topic and the reflection, the self-reflection that you see sort of a writing instructor doing writer doing in relationship to the one student, even though I think the student is meant to represent perhaps many students, and then comparing that to In Appropriate, in which we really appreciated, I noticed in our group as we were looking at that book, we appreciated that there was a spectrum of voices because it’s an interview style book. So, we’re hearing from a bunch of different writers and their view on appropriation and writing about others and the other. We didn’t read them back-to-back, but we read appropriately, and then we read In Appropriate sometime later. And that was a great comparison to see how that conversation can be had with multiple voices, and also sort of one reflective voice.

Rachel Thompson:
And both of those books, I think, what I appreciated was, myself and other writers going into them going,

“Oh, great. Now I’m gonna get the step-by-step guide, how not to appropriate someone else’s voice.”

And both of them were like,

“No, you’re not gonna get that step-by-step guide. It’s way more nuanced. And you’re going to have to think it through, make mistakes, and figure it out yourself. But here are some great insights and thinking tools that you can use, as you’re writing.”

Meli Walker:
These last four books that we’ve mentioned, In Appropriate, Appropriate, Craft in the Real World, Anti-Racist Writing Workshop, are the kind of books that have a longer effect than the conversations that we have. So, we would have, you know, an hour-long conversation, or we would talk online about the books for such deep and important topics, it’s sort of needs to be seen as this is us beginning this conversation as a community, in a way. And we all kind of agree that this is important, and we want to keep having these conversations. So, it’s a sort of slow effect, I think, because, as you mentioned, with majority white writers in our group, sometimes our ability to comment on these topics is limited. But at the same time, we must be having these conversations so that we aren’t doing harm. And we aren’t inappropriately using our power in workshop situations, and that we can be supportive, because I do think, as you say, folks sometimes want to know how to avoid doing the harm in an instructive way, when really, it requires constant self-reflection, and continuous work. And I think these books give us options and a way into our own self-reflection.

Rachel Thompson:
Yeah, and I appreciate what you say about it. Long lasting, I think these books we’ve kind of front ended and this isn’t really in the order that we read them or any other order, maybe then impact of these first books. And the next two are no different too, these are really impactful ones too. And, and I noticed, too, we haven’t really got into with the exception, I guess, of Craft in the Real World. We haven’t really talked about craft books, per se. They are books about thinking about writing and approaching the workshop of writing and some of the ethical conditions that we need to address as writers. We will introduce the next one. I know it’s a favorite of both of ours. But I think you’re best equipped to talk about it too.

Meli Walker:
We read Body Work The Radical Power of Personal Narrative by Melissa Febos. And there are really rich conversations that came out of this book in our live conversation. And we had an enthusiastic couple of readers who really poured over the content and looked through these essays. You know, they’re very comforting and invigorating, they tell the truth. And the author tells us, as she tells her students,

“We are writing a history that we couldn’t find in any other book. We are telling stories that no one else can tell. And we are giving this book of our survival to each other.”

That’s the end of the Melissa Phoebus quotes there.

“The essays in this book can be found online.”

So that was also a good inroad to give people an option to read an essay online first and see if they wanted to participate in the book club. It’s a very good audio book.

Rachel Thompson:
That one had some writing exercises too, which we’re going to talk about today that we found was something that helped writers stay engaged in book club two is the practice of writing that can come from some of the books like the assignments, I guess, if you want to call them that. In that one, there was one that she had to write over and over and over again. And we did that in a separate guided reading session as well too, related to your sexual history, I think. It was like your sexual biography. I think, something like that. Am I right?

Meli Walker:
Yeah, definitely.

Rachel Thompson:
Again, was really interesting, I think to be like,

“Okay, how do I write this in a new way?”

Like the idea of just doing that with any kind of writing, but that in particular, I think is really challenging in a good way for writers.

Meli Walker:
I’ve noticed, that books written by writing teachers or writing professors, instructors are really rich because we feel like we’re sort of hearing from the students that they have to taught too, so when they present a writing exercise or a prompt, and I think in this case, Melissa Febos does describes, ‘This as a prompt I’ve given to my students’, and talks about the impact of that on the students. So, it’s almost like, we sort of are like,

“Oh, okay, like, other people have experienced this prompt, let me try this too.”

And often, you know, if I’m reading craft books, and there are prompts, sometimes I just kind of waste pass them, I’ll go,

“Oh, I want to try that later.”

But being able to try the prompts out together in a group is really nice. It gives you time and space for that and gives you the time to slow down and actually try something out rather than forgetting about them by the time you’ve closed the book. I think I just always have good intentions of returning to prompts and I don’t always, so that’s been a strength of some of the books that have prompts that really resonate with folks, across multiple genres too. Body Work is about personal narrative. But I think it did resonate with fiction writers and poets as well. And I think that’s also another strong feature of books, if they can speak to writers writing different things in different tones of genres, that really seems to make a difference.

Rachel Thompson:
So true. And our current book, in the club, our last book of 2022. Do you want to introduce that one? You just had the book club conversation yesterday as well.

Meli Walker:
Yeah, we just finished Never Say You Can’t Survive, by Charlie Jane Anders. The full title is Never Say You Can’t Survive, How to Get Through Hard Times by Making Up Stories. And I loved this book. I think it is similar to Body Work. This book’s author also tells us to write the book that only you could have written. And again, I’ll say that this is a book about writing fiction, for the most part. It has generative exercises for writing fiction, science fiction, specifically, it talks about world building and things like that. And the author is a novelist, a science fiction writer, but also a journalist. And it did have appeal. There was a memoir, CNF writer in our group, and me included, and we were both resonating with the exercises and the themes of the book. So again, a book that might focus on a particular genre, so to speak, can really speak to people writing outside that genre, and I think that makes a really good craft book. It’s published in 2022. So, it recognizes- on the book jacket that, quote,

“The world is on fire, so tell your story.”

And I think that there’s something comforting about a craft book written more recently. Yeah, there’s great prompts throughout the book. And we tried them out in our calls, in our live calls and really enjoyed them,

Rachel Thompson:
That is one of a couple of the books that I’ve listened to in audio format, which feels so- it felt weird anyway, at first to do for craft books, because it feels like you should have a pen. And you know, sit down, and study this book or something at the same time. But this one anyway, that’s read by the author, and I really appreciated hearing things in the author’s voice, it’s very encouraging as the book too. And talking, like you said about the world being on fire and just really affirming of, you know, you’ve got to- like you said, similar to Body Work of being like, you have the right to tell your story. And you can, in this case, create the worlds that you want to live in through your writing.

So, the next book that we’ll mention, was also more recently published, it’s A Swim in a Pond in the Rain by George Saunders, published in 2021. Reading this book, I don’t know if it was because we read it in January of this year. Or It is something different? It’s a book that looks at the Masters. Actually, I think I didn’t give the correct subtitle to which is A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life. I was one of the people who was very excited about this book. And again, it’s sort of focused on fiction. And as someone who’s writing memoirs, as well, I think there is something that we can always learn across the genres. But this is another book that made it easy to apply it to all writing because it really is about what it means to be human and exploring why stories matter to us, how they work, unpacking how they work.

There’s a phrase from this that I understand, actually, one of our members has taken courses directly with George Saunders and this is some of his teaching again, a reading teacher who talks often about narrative purpose, what is the narrative purpose of this and I really appreciated seeing that in each of the stories to understand, and another phrase pattern escalation. So, sort of how things change throughout the story and why you want to repeat those things and why they need to still kind of all be pointing in the same direction toward the same thing. Those are concepts that I’ve really taken from the book and really delighted in. And actually, another one that I listened to in audio, and then I read in hardcover, too, and the audiobook has the bonus of having some really celebrated readers. So, people from Hollywood television, which was kind of nice to hear. Wayne Wilson read one of the stories anyway. It was a particular highlight is kind of a fun thing to do when you’re reading such a supposedly serious book of literary criticism.

Meli Walker:
Yeah, people got really excited about the literary criticism, it was almost like a George Saunders fan club around the community for a little bit. And there was excitement for the practice of literary criticism. People talked about wanting to continue it, maybe outside of book club, or it’s like a book club add-on, in terms of looking at other authors, you know, that maybe are a bit more contemporary, or more diverse, and their backgrounds, and how that would be exciting to do that practice. And, yeah, a lot of love for the substack of George Saunders. Yeah, maybe it was a winter, a good winter book, with all that snow in those settings of those stories or something about it was very, like cozy, and intellectually stimulating too.

The next book was The Art of Slow Writing: Reflections on Time, Craft, and Creativity by Louise DiSalvo. It was just about the writing practice, about the practice of a sort of a meditative book on writing process, less sort of writing life on work habits, getting deeper into the creative process, an antidote for like writing fast and getting it done at all costs. Readers really appreciated the permission to slow down and take as long as it takes with the work. And I remember another really impactful piece of this book was readers commenting on how the author helped delineate the different selves we need to inhabit as writers. So again, a book about habits and differentiating the different types and roles within ourselves that we need to make use of in order to write and also manage the writing, I guess. I just kept thinking of it like a warm bath, like just kind of like slow down. I think we will read it in December. So, it was a nice, like wintry book for sort of slowing down, seasonal like becoming more empathetic and patient with us and how long sometimes it takes to complete the things we want to complete. Or to be looking at the practice of writing as kind of a long game, rather than a production line or, you know, an engine or something like that.

Rachel Thompson:
Yeah, I remember one writer in particular, really taking that away, like,

“Okay, it’s okay, I can go at my own pace, and my pace is not as fast as I thought it should be. But that’s okay.”

And a great outcome of reading that book is the writer feeling confident in their own practice.

So, the next book we’re going to talk about is a book very dear to my heart. It’s one that I read years before and I know the author as an instructor, Betsy Warland. The book is Breathing the Page: Reading the Act of Writing. In the book, it has many concepts that I often refer to. It’s really interesting in the structure of the book, too. It’s got sort of interstitial moments too, just conversations between Betsy and other writers, little interviews, things like that. It’s- also when I’m on the book page, it says it’s 12 years in the making, and I do remember, it’s making too. So that’s kind of exciting. But you know, personal bias aside, I’ve definitely shared this with a lot of writers and a lot have found it very helpful. It is that rare book on revision to, as I mentioned, you know, Craft in the Real-World having revision practices, and it’s not- at least in my reading, it’s not as common to find those revision books that really help. I think the key concept for me, I mean, there’s so many, but one of them is the idea of scaffolding. And as a literary magazine editor, I see scaffolding a lot in writing they get sent in. So those are early drafts of writing, that maybe needed the scaffolding taken away, those things that helped you the writer enter the story into a narrative but then they can kind of fall away and the story itself is underneath that scaffolding.

Then the other one that I often think about too is the Coma Story & The Comma Story. Betsy Warland puts it. And it’s just a clever way, I think to talk about it, but I think about it in terms of- so for her the Coma Story is a story that you continue to tell it almost in a trance in a very kind of locked in way. And the Comma story is an opportunity to put a comma after that story and continue telling it and find that kind of deeper significance of the story beyond what becomes almost kind of superficial repetition or almost like a thoughtless trance, like reciting of a story, when you need to get into all the things that we picked out from A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, to the narrative purpose, the pattern escalation, all of those tools of narrative that will help you get to deeper truths in your writing, instead of what becomes kind of like phoning it in almost. And I recognize that in my own writing, so then I really appreciate being able to have that language go, this is a Coma story, time to get out the coma, and work on it a bit more.

Meli Walker:
I think the great thing about this book was it felt like learning about where your writing values come from a little bit, because you had worked with Betsy Warland. And it felt like, we were learning about your writing lineage in a way, as the person who facilitates and hosts our community. So, I really liked it for that aspect of it. I think it’s really beautiful to acknowledge lineage and who are writing ancestors are. And so, I think this book was really positive in that way, not just for its content, but also to sort of understand the things, the values that it had formed our group, which I personally think are beautiful.

Rachel Thompson:
Thanks. I’m glad to mention that because I definitely learned a lot about the writing community from Betsy.

Meli Walker:
So, the next book is Braving the Fire, A Guide to Writing About Grief and Loss by Jessica Handler. And this was a book that a member brought to us as a book club suggestion. I remember at the time; we were talking about grief in the community. Rachel and I were talking about grief in another podcast. And we thought it would work to use this book as a way of accessing this topic of how to write about hard things, how to write about loss. And this member was very devoted to presenting this book because she had read it several times and had made a huge impact on her writing life. And so, it had some really great energy behind it.

The author Jessica Handler uses her own experiences, her own loss and grief to talk about ways that writers can face their own grief and be able to write about it. And there’s some advice from doctors and therapists about sort of the more physiological aspect of grieving. A bit of the framework is around the Kübler-Ross model of five stages of grief and sort of uses these different stages that help the writer process emotions as they’re writing. It was a very caring book. And I would say, for memoir writers writing about grief and loss, it’s worth looking at, if that’s something you need support with, but it was a timely pick, but it is pretty memoir specific. And so, it didn’t have as wide appeal to other writers not writing memoir, basically, I’d say this one is very specific to memoir. Again, that framework of the five stages of grief, personally, I think is a bit limiting because that framework was selected for patients in palliative care, and not necessarily for those who are grieving those who are dead. So, I guess just keeping that in mind, but it is kind of an interesting way of looking at the writing process when it comes to grief writing.

The next book is In a Flash! Writing & Publishing Dynamic Flash Prose by Melanie Faith. It was published in 2018. And this was a book with lots of prompts, lots of quick prompts to go with the flash prose aspect of the book. I remember that there is a flash CNF writer in our group who really was enthusiastic about this book and also brought other examples of flash to so that sort of enrich the conversation for us to be looking at flash pieces to look at that writers’ flash pieces. Yeah, I remember there are flash examples and writing prompts from other authors too, like there’s a Dinty Moore aspects, founder of Brevity. So definitely The kind of an exciting book for those writing flash because it’s just great to have a whole book devoted to it at a short form. And again, a book written by a writing teacher who has that experience of spending time in classrooms and trying these things out with their students. And so, again, it has that feeling of like, not just the writer speaking to you, but the writer and all their students. It’s a really great feeling too, to feel like you know, other people worked on these prompts, you know, they worked for other people kind of thing. It’s a really fun book, if you write flash, I recommend this book, just for the prompts alone. It’s really fun.

Rachel Thompson:
Yeah, I think we use some of those prompts in our guided reading sessions as well, too, and really enjoyed that. So, the next book we’re going to talk about is Meander, Spiral, Explode: Design and Pattern in Narrative by Jane Alison. So, I’ve already been talking about escalating patterns before, I’m a pattern fan. I mean, this book also came in, in a different way, but similar to craft in the real world, it came in, in a way that was like,

“Oh, yes, that’s what was missing.”

That’s what we needed to understand that there isn’t just one way of telling a story than certainly that the drawing that we all got in school, of the climax, rising action, and then denouement, and you know, that map of how a story should arc is not the only way that stories can be told, and not the only patterns that stories need to take. And I’ve just really, in particular, loved seeing examples of how a spiral might work in writing, or the idea of a wavelet, or a wave first, and then the wavelet, like little, tiny realizations versus having one solid climax where everything kind of comes together.

I appreciate it too because I do some book coaching. And I’m working with two clients, recently finished with one and working with another, who are definitely not following that traditional arc. And so, we have like a language around: Okay, what is this? Maybe it’s a wavelet. So, then, let’s start looking for the pattern and the shape and your narrative there. And also having the freedom to make their own thing entirely, too. But now at least, there’s something that you can apply to it to kind of understand what is happening in your story and how it’s working. I’m a big fan of the fractal as well, I could really go through all of the different, you know, Meander, the Spiral, the Explode. And when it came out, there was a lot of excitement. This was the very first book we read in the book club. It was because we were really excited about it, it was Rowan McCandless, actually, who had first I think mentioned it to me, and who is someone who writes in a very nonlinear narrative form, he uses different shapes that appear in this book and different ways, different modes of telling stories that are very mixed genre as well, too. So yeah, it just came in with an explosion in our community. In that sense, it was like, disruptive in the best way.

Meli Walker:
Yeah, three quarters of the book, I’d say, is devoted to the pattern. So, it becomes kind of this like, I don’t know, comforting frame where you go,

“Okay, we’re gonna work through each of these patterns alongside this close reading of Emigrants.”

This novel that W. G. Sebald’s Emigrants, is being used as an example, to have this close reading, to look at these patterns. And so, it does have a kind of literary criticism element and a little bit, and there are a lot of authors mentioned throughout, I’m remembering as well, unfortunately, it’s been a while since I’ve read the book. So, I’m sort of reaching a little bit. But yeah, it was a very exciting time. And it did launch our book club. And I think, thematically, I feel good that we picked a pattern busting book, to start of the book club.

Rachel Thompson:
Yeah, because itself has changed patterns. And actually, it has been a while because it was the beginning of 2020, that would have been. And you’re reminding me too, that maybe a critique of it was some of the examples just weren’t that easy to connect with. But it has been nice now, to see newer writing coming out and start thinking about whether those shapes apply to the newer writing through those examples. And also, I mean, for me reading the writers that I’m working with, very fresh work that hasn’t been published and getting excited and going,

“Oh, my gosh, we’re working with a wavelet here. Okay, how can we make it more waveletty.”

So, the concept is great. And I think it was really important as a book to kind of come in because until then, I think a lot of people’s experience in workshop and some writing courses too, was to kind of force them, shoehorn them into this form that doesn’t- you know, the orthodoxy of that is to be questioned.

Meli Walker:
So, the next book is called Seven Drafts: Self-Edit Like a Pro from Blank Page to Book, by Allison K. Williams. And this is a very practical book, if you are trying to finish your book that is kind of the claim of the book that you go from sort of blank page to finished book. And it really walks you through these seven drafts of that process from beginning to end with sort of funny or catchy or even sometimes kind of gross names like The Vomit Draft and things like this. So, the readers who looked at this book closely enjoyed breaking down each draft and looking at the book in that way and sort of working through each draft sequentially and comparing it to their own experience of working towards a finished book. So other members in our community had taken classes with Alison K. Williams, writing classes, workshops, and things. So, they already had a sort of relationship to her style, which is, I would say, pretty fiery, and blunt and bold. And so, a diversion from says, like, the Slower Writing, Louise De Salvo, personal feeling aspect is sort of a lot different in tone and approach than that more loving approach.

Alison K. Williams is loving, but like with tasks, and with sort of ‘No holds barred’, like kind of attitude. So, I think that’s a definite strength that it is so specifically, sharp and punchy in that way. Like, if that’s kind of what you’re looking for, be just wanting to do the damn thing, then. A lot of writers appreciated that. And then I think, yeah, like going back to being able to disagree or notice differences in writing style was good, because people were sort of like, well, I guess I do some version of that draft. But I do it like this. And so, it had us talking about our own writing process as a reaction to these suggestions, which I think is a good thing to notice.

“Okay, well, I’m a bit like that. But also, this is what works for me.”

So, any book that can do that, I think, is really positive, make people reflect on and react against what’s being suggested, and think about what works for them, and help them know, even more specifically, define what the process is like.

Another very practical book we read was The Artful Edit: On the Practice of Editing Yourself by Susan Bell. This was the one that used The Great Gatsby, as sort of specific example, in terms of the advice in the book. So, looking at the editorial relationship between F. Scott Fitzgerald’s editor, Max Perkins, and the author to finish the book, basically, to edit the book. Again, it’s like very practical advice. But it also has this kind of story element because you feel like you’re peeking in on this relationship between this author and this editor. And again, like this would be another example is if you hadn’t read The Great Gatsby, or if you didn’t know that novel, or the example being used, it can be a little distancing. But I think it had a delightful tone, even though it’s very practical and strategic, and sort of talks about discipline of like editing yourself, but in the interest of enhancing your work. So, it’s got kind of a formulaic tone to it. But it also has sort of a human appeal because you’re learning about this relationship between this author and the editor. And it’s written by a book editor. So that’s also a good feature of it.

Rachel Thompson:
Yeah, it’s coming from the right place. So, the final three books we’re going to mention, I’m not going to go into too much detail about them. But they are more related toward platform building and the business side of writing, which we’ll talk about what we learned writing a book club, but we’ve kind of are starting to move away from that, or I mean, depends maybe the awesome book on that topic will come out in this context with this, you know, the kind of 2022 clarity and speaking to the times, maybe more. Although, I mean, one of them is newer, too. So, I shouldn’t say that. They’re totally outdated, necessarily, but they’re not exactly what we’re leaning towards right now.

That said, The Extroverted Writer: An Author’s Guide to Marketing and Building a Platform by Amanda Luedeke. I’m sorry if I’m mispronouncing that. That book was very, you know, step by step. It’s of a time though. So, it’s like going through Facebook and Goodreads and LinkedIn, Twitter, which we know it’s going through something right now, as of this recording. I would say it’s a good primer for people who just want to get set up. But then also, some of the things that were true about what writers needed to do, in order to be able to get an agent and book deal are less true now, from what I understand of people being published and people working in the publishing side, that kind of following is less important, or those specific kind of online followings. They probably do help a lot, you know, if you have a very big Twitter following, but it doesn’t have to be the only thing to do in order to become a writer. And I think there’s enough of an argument against doing that. And the way that they contributed to the War of Art, for the negative side against productivity or not productivity necessarily went against creativity, let’s say.

So, I guess that’s not a critique of this book. But that’s a critique of the idea of building a platform in a way that I think is changing, and so it’d be interesting to see what other books come out, related to that, or maybe an updated version of this book. As I recall, I guess people did some of the exercises in the book. But that’s sort of when we started noticing that people maybe were less excited about platform building. So, then the next one is a more contemporary one. And I think really helpful is Before and After the Book Deal: A Writer’s Guide to Finishing, Publishing, Promoting, and Surviving Your First Book, by Courtney Maum. What writers in our community most loved about this was their point of view, voice, Courtney Maum is a great writer, and has a great sense of humor. And that was really helpful. And the information in there is really helpful. I just referenced it maybe a couple of weeks ago, when a writer had a question about what kind of blurbs they needed in a book and what you know, the idea of blurbing a book and what it means, and there’s a whole section in that book about that. So, any kind of aspect of finishing, publishing, promoting, surviving the first book is covered there.

Meli Walker:
A sense of humor is a great feature of that book, the author is sort of funny and candid. And the idea is answering questions that you sort of been too afraid to ask or if you didn’t get an MFA, like: What does all this secret information about breaking through with your first book, and like, how can we demystify that? So yeah, it’s like a 2020 book. And I think it’s a great read for people in that part of the process.

Rachel Thompson:
And then finally, is The Business of Being a Writer by Jane Friedman. Jane Friedman also has several articles, like so many articles. I think a lot were what turned into this book. And I think it’s a really practical book for understanding how to build a writing career and to approach it in a business likewise.

So those were all of the books that we read in the book club, the whole list of books will be available in the show notes for this episode. So, you don’t have to write them all down, we’ll be able to find them. And we’ll link to them as well. We’re going to spend just a little bit of time talking about what we learned about running a book club. What makes a good craft book club? That’s what this is. It’s not all craft, necessarily, or I kind of feel like, it redefines the idea of craft actually. I mentioned at the top that two writers I admire criticizing the idea of reading craft books. And one of them was Courtney Maum, who wrote the book Before and After the Book Deal. So, I assume she wasn’t talking about her own book, so would approve of that books being on our book club list. What makes a good writer book club maybe because, again, it’s not really necessarily craft and what worked well to spark conversations, which in some ways was our goal of helping writers improve their craft, helping you improve your conversations and connections in our community among writers and sparking new ideas through our collective reading, as the community facilitator, Meli was the host of all of our book club conversation calls, and the leader in our online chat, communication about the books as well. So, we had both live video calls and chats where we discussed the reading each month.

Meli Walker:
So, the first thing I’d say is kind of maybe an obvious one but didn’t necessarily occur to us right away is just the accessibility of the book. So, can most of the readers in your group get the book? If it’s more recently published? Sometimes that can be a good thing because it’s easy to find. However, it may not always be in the public library yet if it just came out or if it hasn’t been taken note of, by the local librarians and since we’re a group that meets online, and we have writers in different countries and different time zones, we have to be careful about picking books that are available and accessible, whether that’s online and eBook form, audio book form, physical form. So, thinking about that, and it does require a bit of planning as well to say,

“This is the book we’re going to read in this upcoming month,” and giving people time to get the book so that they don’t feel behind from the start.

That being said, we also don’t require, as we’ve mentioned, everyone to have read the books. But anyways, it is good to have an idea of what you plan to read and make sure that it’s fairly accessible. Also, another obvious point would maybe be to read each book before you choose it, or at least have one person read it. So sometimes it was one of us that had read or read most of the book. Sometimes we chose a book because we trusted the author. Sometimes we chose a book because a member brought it forward. And they had read the book thoroughly. And so, we went with that. But I think going forward, we are making sure one of us has read the book, so that we know some of the positive impacts this can have on a community. And it also informs some of the programming theme as well. So just like any programming that you would do, you want to make sure that you’re doing something that might affect and impact, I guess, as many writers as possible, even if it’s not going to be for everyone.

Rachel Thompson:
Yeah, and for it to be not just a good book about writing, I think we’re raising the bar a bit, again, maybe coming to, you know, again, that idea of there’s just not enough time, there’s a lot of other stuff we could be reading. So, we don’t want to be reading books that aren’t really going to help push things forward or engage and inspire our writers.

Meli Walker:
Another thing we changed partway through the book club is we would read one book a month, I think a lot of book clubs, kind of do that, you know, this month’s book is, but we decided at some point in the last year to actually read each book over two months, rather than one. And this gives people more time to look at the book, maybe they got the book late. So they’re catching up in the second month, it gives more time and space, you know, and then the first conversation, we don’t feel like we have to cover everything, we can cover the first half of the book, or we can cover the whole book in a sort of more cursory look at things and then go deeper in that second live call. And then gives us more time to post about the book in our Slack community and our Slack channel to keep the conversation going. Another important piece in terms of keeping the conversation going and having momentum is to have a couple of readers that are invested and who are also reading it closely. So, I facilitate the group calls. But I also seek out support and excitement from members who are interested in reading the book closely so that they’re kind of representing us as a group and sort of going,

“Okay, let’s look at this book” and sort of reporting back.

Although we don’t do formal book reports or anything like that. And we’re not necessarily critiquing and in a very intense way. But we are kind of trying to say,

“Okay, well, for me, this is what I noticed, and this is what you might find helpful.”

Again, giving people that option of whether they want to invest their time, their resources, their energy into a book in the first place. And I think people appreciate not having the pressure to have read the book. So, I used to kind of go around at the beginning of the call and say like,

“Who’s read the book?”,


“Who has the copy of the book?”,


“Who’s thinking about the book?”

And now I just kind of go into the call and we just talk about it, and whoever wants to chime in can chime in. And I noticed people will listen in on their lunch break or while they’re at work. So, there’s different levels of engagement. And I think that actually makes people more engaged when they have an option to tune in with less engagement, but they’re still really interested. But they may not have a lot to say. I guess the main point there is just allowing for different levels of engagement with the book but making sure that you do have a core couple few people who are really interested or invested in doing that close reading for the group.

Rachel Thompson:
Yeah, and sometimes even the people who haven’t read the book, you know, maybe they’re listening in or maybe if they’re able to engage in this way we talk about the concept from the book, and they can apply that to their own writing and think about it and also get excited and say,

“Oh, I actually am interested in learning more about that. So, I am going to read the book.”

The other thing actually, I forgot to mention before, when we were talking about slowing down, we also will have a book catch up month too, so we’ll read a few books from the past midway through the year. The option was to catch up on any of the books that we have read so far this year and discuss them. And people just have different times and seasons that they go through busyness and ability to read. And they really wanted to be reading that book. But work was busy that month or something. So, they’re able to jump back in. And we continue on the conversation that we would have had with that book in the past, but we move it forward to this catch-up month,

Meli Walker:
I would say another feature that we’ve already sort of mentioned, but books with writing prompts in them tend to be really impactful and tend to engage folks who might not have read the whole book. But the option to try out a prompt together or to post a prompt in the Slack channel and say, “Try this” or, again, do it together on a live call can be really interesting and help us think about what is working about that prompt? Or what does that prompt do for us. So even though we might not necessarily write for half an hour together on that prompt, we kind of look at it and make some notes on it. And then it gives people something to return to later. Again, to kind of make time and space for the prompt instead of something like,

“Oh, that would be nice to do. But I might not remember to go back to it.”

It’s been nice to pull out some of the strong prompts that I think will or we think that will resonate with writers and try those out together and talk about why that might be helpful.

Rachel Thompson:
Yeah, I agree. And I’m with you where I will read books with writing prompts in them, but you know, I’m not reading them necessarily at a place where I can be, you know, and now I mentioned, sometimes I’m listening to the eBook version of these craft books, too. And so, I might think, oh, yeah- sorry, the audio book. Sometimes I’m listening to the audiobook version of these craft books. And, yeah, I’m just not able to write at the moment, but it is kind of nice to have that external accountability or that group energy to go okay, yeah, now we’re gonna work on the prompt together. And in some ways, those books work better collectively than they do individually. Certainly, for both of us. I guess. We’re saying that’s the end of the list we have here. Is there anything else that sprung to mind in our conversation about all of the books that we read this year that worked well, Meli?

Meli Walker:
No, I think. [laughter].

Rachel Thompson:
There doesn’t have to be.

Meli Walker:
Writing books is fun. And it’s great to be in a group, looking at books together. And finding value and comparison and reflection. And doing that in a company is always really enriching for me.

Rachel Thompson:
I guess maybe one other thing, it’s accumulation of what we’ve said too, but it’s like thinking about why you’re reading those craft books. And if it’s to help you with a specific challenge in your writing to help you generate new writing to help you feel not alone. You know, the book that we’re currently reading is really great for that. Never Say You Can’t Survive, by Charlie Jane Anders. And then also, you know, the other thing is to read, as Meli mentioned at the top, to read books that you enjoy that are in the genre that you’re writing into kind of look at how the craft works. So not just reading specific books for craft tips but reading other books for that as well.

Meli Walker:
Yeah, I think a feature that we kind of mentioned earlier, but I guess I would like to add to this list about running a book club and how to choose books, in terms of books that resonate with people writing across multiple genres. So, I think that, again, it’s nice when they’re specific, or this is a book about writing fiction or Craft in the Real World is about workshopping fiction. But when that specificity also applies to other types of writing, I think that’s a really great feature. It doesn’t have to do that. But when you’re in a group of writers who write different things, it’s really great when, again, I mentioned that experience yesterday when a CNF writer specifically said,

“Oh, I can see how these fiction generating exercises really helped me in my writing.”

That’s what I love to see is when people can kind of takeoff that restrictive feeling and go,

“Oh, actually, I can learn something from this, and now I’m excited to return to my work.”

So, any books that make you feel excited to return to the writing, I think, you know, noticing how you feel after you read something is really important, rather than just kind of going,

“Oh, yes, I must trust this book. This is the book I will follow,” you know, kind of by note, and noticing how a book in an author makes you feel and how it feels to discuss that book and company. I think is really important.

Rachel Thompson:
And putting it down if it doesn’t feel great.

Meli Walker:
Throwing it across the room is also an option.

Rachel Thompson:
What’s next for our book club? What are you looking forward to in the future of book club? We are going to, I guess, bring our book club concept a little bit back into the garage. We’re in that end of year kind of evaluative mood. And we haven’t done that evaluation yet. So, I’m kind of putting Meli on the spot here. But I’m asking us both this question. So maybe I can go first with just one, which is, you probably noticed that the reading list is, you know, the fiction books did apply to other genres. And certainly, Betsy Warland’s book on Revision is for narrative, including narrative poetry. But we didn’t have a lot of poetry heavy books. So, there’s definitely, I think, that desire among our poets, especially, but I think among other writers in the community who want to look more at poetry and writing lyric prose, to find some poetry focused books. So, I know several that I’ve read over the years, but I want to look at what else is out there as well, before we bring that to the book club.

Meli Walker:
Yes, poetry books, for sure. And I think, again, that’s something that we can all learn from. The poets are the voices and the sort of, I don’t know, original writers or something that I think we could look at poetry books. Yeah, there’s a few titles, I’m excited to look at and read to see if they might work for the group. And I always appreciate reader suggestions, people that have found a book that works for them. But again, I guess one thing to know is sometimes you do have to say that, you know, maybe this book isn’t for the group. So that kind of put a bit of responsibility on us, choosing books that might appeal to our group as a whole.

Rachel Thompson:
Well, thank you so much for talking about books with me and our book club today, Meli. Really appreciate it.

Meli Walker:
Thank you.

Rachel Thompson:
So, that was my conversation with community facilitator, Meli Walker. Remember that all of the books we discussed from our book club are up at https://rachelthompson.co/podcast/62. I’m so happy, just thinking about our conversation, and what we uncovered together, that our book club really operates with the idea that we don’t need a prescription for how to write, we rebuff any edicts on what every writer ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ do. Our bent is toward vulnerable, open, affirming books for writers that help us refine our practices and feel like we’re getting support and wisdom from the authors, real wisdom. Having listened to how we approach “craft.” I hope you hear those scary quotes around the word craft, in books for writers, I encourage you to reflect on how you might use your precious reading time as a writer.

The Write, Publish, and Shine podcast is brought to you by me, Rachel Thompson. You can learn more about the work I do to help writers, write, publish, and shine at rachelthompson.co. When you’re there, sign up for my Writerly Love letters, sent weekly, though that has been part of my imperfectionism in this autumn, moving into winter, but I’m back to sending these notes filled with support for your writing practice on the regular.⁠ If this episode encouraged you to read any of the seventeen books on our list because you were intrigued by our takes on them, please get in touch about this. I’m at hello@rachelthompson.co, and I’d love to hear from you. And maybe there are any books that you’d recommend to our craft book club? I’d also love to hear about those, in particular any books on poetry. Just remember our key is book accessibility and general openness rather than sort of a closed narrow version of what writers should or shouldn’t do.

Again, you can always reach me by email at Hello@RachelThompson.co. And yes, I am giving out email address because I am still off social media and I am really happy that I didn’t spend any of 2022 building a twitter profile or following, I am cringing for those who did as I say this. Sorry, lovely writers. I know it was also a good connecting resource for our community up until now and I hope we find other ways to connect online.

Speaking of online community, this is a reminder that you can sign up in November for the Writerly Love C community and get locked in for our current monthly rates that are going up in December, and membership will be open now year-round. The Writerly Love Community is a warm, inclusive, and supportive space for creative writers to get together, learn about writing, build connections, and grow aluminous writing career. You can learn more and sign up at RachelThompson.co/join.

And finally, I say this every episode, but I would really love your help this time, if you have a moment to tell other luminous writers about this episode. You can do this by sending them to the podcast at rachelthompson.co/podcast or just tell them to search for Write, Publish, and Shine wherever they get their podcasts. You might not be tweeting about it, so sending them an email with a link to an episode you found particularly helpful, that would be so lovely! Thank you for listening—I encourage you to keep writing luminously and reading whatever sparks your creativity!

Meli Walker spoke to me from unceded W̱SÁNEĆ territories, also known as the Saanich Peninsula on the Salish Sea. I am in the South Sinai, Egypt, on lands historically and presently occupied not by the El Tarabin Bedouin, as you have heard me say many times before, as this community historically and currently inhabits the region further north from where I am. The lands I am on are El Muzzina territory and the fact that it took me a while to know this shows the work, I need to do to build relationships and understand more about the lands I occupy. Maybe you are similar to me, and you want to do some similar research. You might start online with sites like native-land.ca, or by talking to people in your community, as I did, to educate myself further.

Reminder that I offer these land acknowledgments as a Settler-Canadian and in order to remind us of the connections indigenous peoples still have to many lands occupied by settlers, and all of our responsibility to honor these connections and support true reconciliation and repair.

The list of seventeen books we mention in this episode appears above.

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