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Jim Cox Report: September 2017
Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:
One of the major perks of being the editor-in-chief of the Midwest Book Review for the last forty years is having developed a legion of folks throughout the publishing industry who send me interesting articles on writing, on publishing, and in this most recent communique, on reading.
Katie Schnack is a publicist with Smith Publicity and sent me the following (with permission to share it with my own readers):
I wonder how many value the benefits of slow reading? I don’t imagine any author writes for speed-readers. If I am correct in this assumption, I am the writer’s dream audience.
I grew up with a learning disability, which made reading and writing a mad challenge in my early years. Reading aloud was unthinkable. My primary school teachers would be shocked to learn that I had grown up to write and record spoken word essays.
I would offer that my difficulties as a child led me to the practice of careful reading, which eventually led me to the implementation of painstaking writing.
Being a slow reader can make one very choosey over one’s reading material. Take beach reading, for instance; if you find it shallow at a run, imagine taking it at a crawl.
When I was in my early twenties, through with school and able to have full control over my reading, I chose to read the classics. If I was going to plod, I would plod through the dense forest of the writings of the nineteenth century. I began with the novels of Charles Dickens, taking each one at a graduation march pace. I read everything Mr. Dickens wrote, and some two and three times over. His novel Domby and Son is one that I read every decade. I move through it at a geriatric stroll, circling certain paragraphs for long stretches, head down, hands clasped behind my back, musing, rereading, reflecting.
“Damn,” I will pause, pick up my head, “that was a grand sentence!” After which I stare off into space for a time, chewing on the thing. I ruminate for another little while, and revisit the paragraph for another go at it. A nine-hundred-page novel will occupy half a year at such a saunter. Glorious!
Apparently E.B. White was a slow reader, of course he was. A painter doesn’t dash through the Louvre, taking in as many paintings as she can, to learn how to paint. An architect doesn’t drive through a city to learn how to construct a building. One well-written book, carefully circled, is worth one hundred at a forced run.
Of course, slow reading isn’t ideal for every occasion. It isn’t recommended for standardized testing, for example, or reading signs from passing cars.
Once, in the aftermath of one of our country’s far too frequent mass shootings, I was in the passenger seat next to my husband.
“Oh, my God, what has this country come to!” I puffed. “We’ve gone mad!’
“What are you talking about?” he asked.
“That sign we just passed!”
“What about it?”
“Inviting us to a firearms festival! What could possibly go on at a firearms festival?! I shudder to think!”
My husband turned to me, incredulous.
“The sign. It said Fireman’s Festival.”
Still, I believe that the benefits of slow reading outweigh the drawbacks. And, the happy news is, anyone can practice it. It doesn’t have to come naturally. You can start today!
Choose a beloved book, or one that you suspect might grow to be beloved, and slowly, carefully begin to read. Pour over each sentence. Like meditation, try and keep your mind in focus, and if it wanders, gently bring it back. Stroll through the first page as if entering a garden in full summer for the first time, eager to take in each flower of a phrase, each petal of a word. Lean in and study, straighten up and reflect. Do this for as long as you can sustain the intensity of single-minded attention, and then put the beloved down. At this point you might indulge in a few moments of musing before you drift off to sleep, or go about your day.
You won’t regret the effort, or the time spent. Something inside you will shift, breathe deeply and exhale.
“Ah,” you will sigh, “now this is a book for slow reading.”
Margaret Dulaney is the principal contributor of the Spoken Word Website Listen Well with once monthly recordings of her essays. Her book To Hear The Forest Sing will be released this November.
Speaking only for myself I have different reading speeds -- slow for personal pleasure reading; fast for business deadline reading; and a wide range of intermediate speeds depending on how interested I am in what is before me.
But in any case, I pity the folk that rush through a Shakespeare sonnet, or them that linger over the ingredients list of a cereal box.
Jim again -- Now on to our usual stuff!
The Writing/Publishing Shelf
Writer's Market 2018
Robert Lee Brewer, editor
Writer's Digest Books
c/o F+W Media
10151 Carver Road, Suite 200, Blue Ash, OH 45242
9781440352638, $29.99, PB, 896pp, www.amazon.com
Now in a fully updated and significantly expanded 97th edition, "Writer's Market 2018 " fully lives up to it's subtitle of 'The Most Trusted Guide to Getting Published'. Comprised of thousands of current listings for book publishers, magazines, contests, literary agents, internet resources and more, this new edition of "Writer's Market 2018" includes an invaluable webinar by C. Hope Clark for aspiring authors on funding a writing career. Of special note are the lists of professional writing organizations, samples of query letters, and a free digital download of Writer's yearbooks, featuring the 100 Best Markets. Exceptionally well organized and thoroughly 'user friendly' in presentation, "Writer's Market 2018" should be considered a core and indispensable reference work for personal, professional, community, and academic library Writing/Publishing collections.
Finally -- Here is "The Midwest Book Review Postage Stamp Hall Of Fame & Appreciation" roster of well-wishers and supporters. These are the generous folk who decided to say 'thank you' and 'support the cause' that is the Midwest Book Review by donating postage stamps this past month:
Joan Arnay Halperin -- "My Sister's Eyes"
Austin Bower -- "Autism: The fight In Side"
Lilia Sariecheva -- "Voyages Through Time and Space"
Deborah Kennedy -- "Nature Speaks: Art & Poetry for the Earth"
All Eyes One E, Inc.
Sartoris Literary Group
Red Feather Publishing
Phoenix Publishing Company
Susan Apollon -- "An Inside Job"
Carmen Ambrosio -- Ambrosart Ltd.
Lynn Sanders -- Difference Makers Media
Jim Madden -- Paramount Market Publishing
Barbara Wall -- The Barrett Company
Elizabeth Waldman Frazier -- Waldmania!
In lieu of (or in addition to!) postage stamp donations, we also accept PayPal gifts of support to our postage stamp fund for what we try to accomplish in behalf of the small press community. Simply log onto your PayPal account and direct your kindness (in any amount and at your discretion) to the Midwest Book Review at:
SupportMBR [at] aol.com
(The @ is replaced by "[at]" in the above email address, in an attempt to avoid email-harvesting spambots.)
If you have postage stamps to donate, or if you have a book you'd like considered for review, then send those postage stamps (always appreciated, never required), or a published copy of that book (no galleys, uncorrected proofs, or Advance Reading Copies), accompanied by a cover letter and some form of publicity release to my attention at the address below.
All of the previous issues of the "Jim Cox Report" are archived on the Midwest Book Review website at www.midwestbookreview.com/bookbiz/jimcox.htm. If you'd like to receive the "Jim Cox Report" directly (and for free), just send me an email asking to be signed up for it.
So until next time -- goodbye, good luck, and good reading!
Midwest Book Review
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James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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Oregon, WI 53575-1129
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