Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

07 Jan 2012, 13:30 p.m.

Lit On My Mind

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2012 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

cover of Charitable GettingLight fun: Charitable Getting by Sam Starbuck, free to download. It's a dramedy about the employees of a nonprofit and "a secretive blogger who might be one of his staff, a journalist determined to uncover who it is, and a client who not only doesn't want to pay their fee, but wants to sue [the firm] for telling the truth." I laughed out loud and was satisfyingly right in predicting the identity of the secret blogger.

More light fun: fanfic from the Yuletide challenge, 2011. A few of my favorite stories cover Casino Royale and Billy Elliot. Also check out Star Trek: Deep Space Nine heartwarmers "The Life That Is Waiting" and "In the Files".

I don't write fiction, but it's fun to read writing advice from authors because sometimes you get funny anecdotes. This is basically why I read Stephen King's On Writing memoir, and why I've been splashing through Jane Espenson's blog archives. At the Emmys:

...even the very end of the night was fun because there was this crush of people all waiting for their hired limos to come pick them up and everyone was in the same situation even though they might be, say, Vanessa Williams. Bizarrely egalitarian, the limo-waiting process.

(Jane Espenson majored in computer science at UC Berkeley, so I should add her to my list.)

For the same reason, I'm reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, whom I used to read in Salon. Restful & inspirational without being glurgy. (Example piece on her eating disorder.)

Book recommendation blast from the past: Necessary Dreams: Ambition in Women's Changing Lives by Dr. Anna Fels. Slate review, Broad Universe review. Fels points out that the childhood or adolescent desire for fame is often a precursor to a more nuanced ambition, combining the urge to master some domain or skill with the desire for the recognition of one's peers or community. She also notes that women, especially, feel the need to hide that wish for fame instead of developing it into a healthy passion to guide our careers. This book blew my mind in the best way when I read it a few years ago, and massively helped me guide my career development. It now informs my emphasis on explicit encouragement and mentorship of new MediaWiki volunteers.