Summer Brennan

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Summer Brennan

Goodreads Author


Born
in The United States
May 12

Website

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Influences
Rebecca Solnit, Joan Didion, Susan Orlean, Eula Biss, Helen Macdonald, ...more

Member Since
August 2014


Summer Brennan is an author and award-winning journalist who grew up on the rural Northern California coast. She is the recipient of the 2016 Matthew Power Literary Reporting Award and a visiting scholar at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University. A graduate of Bennington College and NYU, her work has appeared in New York Magazine, Scientific American, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Literary Hub, The Rumpus, The Millions, Pacific Standard, and other publications. Her first book—The Oyster War: The True Story of a Small Farm, Big Politics, and the Future of Wilderness in America—was a finalist for the Orion Book Award and the Northern California Book Award. Her next book, High Heel, will be published by Bloomsbury in ...more

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Summer Brennan I get writer's block quite severely. No matter how much I may tell myself that writer's block is all in my head, it still insists on doing a…moreI get writer's block quite severely. No matter how much I may tell myself that writer's block is all in my head, it still insists on doing a marvelously lifelike impression of reality. For me it isn't usually a case of not having any ideas, but more that I can't seem to make those ideas show up properly on the screen in readable English sentences. Here are some things that help.

1) Take a walk. Get away from your computer or notebook and think for a while while moving your feet up and down in a way that propels you forward. You're still working, so don't let anyone disturb you. Sometimes you just need to clear the cobwebs.

2) Talk instead of write. I use the Voice Notes app on my phone to record long rambling messages to myself about whatever I'm working on. I can walk down the street doing this and people just think that I'm having a conversation with someone on the other end of the phone. It feels crazy at first but then you get used to it. Try to tell the story in however jumbled way that you can, just to get the elements out there. Then, after a few days or weeks or whatever you want, listen to your messages and transcribe them work for word. Congratulations, you now have a very, very bad first draft of something.

3) Make yourself write. Use a timer and vow to get out 1,000 words in an hour, or even 30 minutes. Make it tight enough that you won't have time to think too much. Just put down sentences one after the other, and then edit later. Only rarely will the writing you get from this be as bad as you'd expect.

These are my three main approaches, but there are more! I should hang a list of them framed on my wall.(less)
Summer Brennan The obvious thing would be to write, of course. But more important than that, I think, is reading. Read as much as you possibly can. Read more than…moreThe obvious thing would be to write, of course. But more important than that, I think, is reading. Read as much as you possibly can. Read more than you think you need to. Read authors with different styles, different sentence habits, different cadences. It's like learning to dance as a little kid by standing on your mom or dad's shoes. The more you read, the more the instinct of language will imprint itself upon you, so that when you do go to write, a kind of muscle memory will be there. Then write something, and don't worry too much if it's good. Just finish it. Whatever it is, write it through from beginning to middle to end. Writers need to be able to tell whole stories as much if not more than string together pretty words.(less)
Average rating: 4.02 · 193 ratings · 38 reviews · 2 distinct worksSimilar authors
The Oyster War: The True St...

4.02 avg rating — 191 ratings — published 2015 — 5 editions
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The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante
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“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
Audre Lorde
1984 by George Orwell
“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”
George Orwell
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Troubling Love by Elena Ferrante
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The Gypsy Moth Summer by Julia Fierro
The Gypsy Moth Summer
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The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante
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The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante
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“But I find that perhaps the greatest gift of reading is how it can transport us not to the future or to the past, but to the present. How it helps us be right here; to return to ourselves. It gives us different lenses to try viewing the world through, to see if any of them can help the universe make more sense. We may write to shout into the abyss of history, but we read to hear the voices of our fellows calling back to us through the dark.”
Summer Brennan

“To escape the throngs, we decided to see the new Neil Degrasse Tyson planetarium show, Dark Universe. It costs more than two movie tickets and is less than thirty minutes long, but still I want to go back and see it again, preferably as soon as possible. It was more visually stunning than any Hollywood special effect I’d ever seen, making our smallness as individuals both staggering and - strangely - rather comforting. Only five percent of the universe consists of ordinary matter, Neil tells us. That includes all matter - you, and me, and the body of Michael Brown, and Mork’s rainbow suspenders, and the letters I wrote all summer, and the air conditioner I put out on the curb on Christmas Day because I was tired of looking at it and being reminded of the person who had installed it, and my sad dying computer that sounds like a swarm of bees when it gets too hot, and the fields of Point Reyes, and this year’s blossoms which are dust now, and the drafts of my book, and Israeli tanks, and the untaxed cigarettes that Eric Garner sold, and my father’s ill-fitting leg brace that did not accomplish what he’d hoped for in terms of restoring mobility, and the Denver airport, and haunting sperm whales that sleep vertically, and the water they sleep in, and Mars and Jupiter and all of the stars we see and all of the ones we don’t. That’s all regular matter, just five percent. A quarter is “dark matter,” which is invisible and detectable only by gravitational pull, and a whopping 70 percent of the universe is made up of “dark energy,” described as a cosmic antigravity, as yet totally unknowable. It’s basically all mystery out there - all of it, with just this one sliver of knowable, livable, finite light and life. And did I mention the effects were really cool? After seeing something like that it’s hard to stay mad at anyone, even yourself.”
Summer Brennan

“Still, she knew they were there, even if she couldn’t see them; like benevolent ghosts lost in the ether, not far from her, rolling their plump bodies in the surf or stretched languorously on the shore.”
Summer Brennan, The Oyster War: The True Story of a Small Farm, Big Politics, and the Future of Wilderness in America

“He is ugly and sad... but he is all love.”
Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera
tags: love

“I want
To do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.”
Pablo Neruda, Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair

“...we live in an era of terrible preoccupation with presentation and interpretation, one in which relations between who someone is and what he believes and how he "expresses himself" have been thrown into big time flux.”
David Foster Wallace, Consider the Lobster and Other Essays

“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we're reading doesn't wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is my belief.”
Franz Kafka

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
Ira Glass

179584 Our Shared Shelf — 219740 members — last activity 39 minutes ago
Dear Readers, As part of my work with UN Women, I have started reading as many books and essays about equality as I can get my hands on. There is so m ...more



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