Sunday Smorgasbord

To editor of a scientific journal: After you’ve been sitting on my manuscript for over a week after the reports had come in, without making a decision, I may not take kindly the fact that you wrote to me to hurry up with my own review of another manuscript in your journal.

Favorite time of day: The 10 min I spend in my car after I’ve parked it in the garage at work. It’s 10 min of listening to the radio, browsing the web on my phone, sipping my Venti Pike Roast with nonfat milk, bracing myself to get out and face the day.

To anyone among the readers who’s also a writer: If you have a writing group or writing buddies who are helpful, how did you find them? I do ask some people I know for feedback on occasion (thank you!), but I know I’m imposing. I would like a reciprocal critiquing framework.

By way of Wandering Scientist, a great article on the global profile of birth-control use and abortion practices.

Easy bread pudding

A cat trying to pet a bird


  1. I found my writing groups by taking creative writing classes. It is really helpful if it is a class that meets regularly over a long time. Mine took 2 years with the same 12 people, so everyone in there was relatively serious and committed. Some of the lessons were more useful than others, but the main gain from this class was really the connection with other aspiring writers. One year after the class I regularly meet with 5 of them to exchange feedback and they are now among the people I like best in my life. I also took some short-term courses and tried to start writing groups with people whose writing I liked there, but people were less committed. Additionally, at least in Europe you can also apply to stipends that do not give you money but instead free workshops with experienced writers. I am going to one next week with 10 other writers who are all super-motivated and I am very much looking forward to it. One amazing aspects of these workshops and classes, by the way, is getting to compare the impression you have of someone and the impression of their writing. Sometimes it is so far apart that it is just stunning… And since I mostly only write if I have a deadline, these connections and groups have made me far more productive and motivated. It is so great that you have started writing seriously and I enjoy your stories and reading your thoughts about the writing process! It would be really cool to have you in one of my writing groups. 🙂

  2. zinemin, it’s so good to hear from you again! You sound great. I didn’t know you wrote, that’s so cool! And your creative writing group sounds awesome. These workshops you can get access to sound really great. I think there are similar things here in the US, but my impression is they are meant for young aspiring career writers (so my middle-aged hobbyist a$$ would likely not qualify)… I also have mixed feelings about what’s known as the “MFA voice.”

    My other big issue is that I have an accent. It’s light, but it’s there. Based on how some native speakers (e.g., undergrads or grad students or even random adults) sometimes react, like I am automatically disqualified from giving comments on language or writing, I am probably better off avoiding in-person critique groups and should stick to online ones instead; if it’s all electronic, I can pass for someone who knows what they’re doing.

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