A Defense of Non-Traditional Reading

It’s a common stereotype that readers are notorious for hating on e-books, audiobooks, and pretty much any form of reading that isn’t a hardcover from 1974 with a faded velvet bookmark. You’ve seen the poorly-formatted memes and comics – kids these days with their “Kindles” and “Nooks,” not reading scrolls by candlelight like we did in ye olde America. What happens when your e-reader’s battery is drained, or you can’t find your headphones?

Don’t get me wrong, “non-traditional” forms of reading aren’t perfect. The blue light from our smartphones and e-readers is considered harmful, though there continue to be ways to work around that effect. You could argue that people tend to retain written information better when it is on a page rather than a screen. And of course, the aesthetic – there is nothing quite like having a beautiful collection of books to surround yourself with.

At the beginning of the month, my campus library posted this poll on their bulletin board:

12 library poll

And recently in my papermaking/bookmaking class, we’ve been talking about how books and the methods we prefer to use when we read them. Despite what the memes suggest, people of my generation still love printed text.

Unfortunately, this love of traditional reading often comes with a disdain for other ways of consuming books. But let me confess something: I love having e-books and audiobooks. As time passes, they’ve become a more present part of my reading experience, and I’m incredibly thankful for it. These days, when I hear someone mocking non-traditional reading, it takes a lot out of me not to start an argument. So instead of starting an argument in person, I’ve decided to write a little bit about why e-books and audiobooks are in some ways better than printed pages.

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Dreaming Big & Saving Cats | Writer’s Life

Alright, I know last week I skimmed over my goals for 2020, and that included a handful of writing goals, but I promise this is different! I want to take a closer look at my “Quest” fantasy project and where I want to take it this year. I’ve spent a lot of time planning and plotting over the past month, and I feel like I’m ready to approach this project once again.

I briefly mentioned it a few posts ago, but I recently read the book Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody, at the recommendation of my friend and fellow blogger Charmaine Lim. The book takes the original “Save the Cat” theory by screenwriter Blake Snyder and adapts it to prose writing, particularly novels.

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Goals for 2020

I like setting goals for myself if for no other reason than the fact that I like the illusion of accomplishment. We can debate whether or not reading a certain number of books is actually making a difference in the grand scheme of things, but hey, at least I actually did something. If nothing else, I think goal-setting helps us prioritize, and they teach us patience and perseverance.

There’s nothing really special about the first day of the year – it’s just another day, so what? But for whatever reason, when humans made calendars, they designated this specific day as the beginning of a “new year.” And we like new things. They’re scary sometimes, sure, but they also feel full of opportunity. So yes, setting goals for a year is somewhat arbitrary, but I think it’s good to capitalize on that optimism  and use it to make changes that will go beyond the next twelve months.

All that being said, today I’m going to review my goals from 2019 and rate myself on how well I did, and then look ahead to what I want to do in 2020.

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2019: Year In Review

It’s the end of another year, and also the end of another decade. If you’re worried that I’m going to make you endure a ten-year retrospective like every other content creator on the internet seems to be doing, let me put your fears to rest: I’m not. I can barely remember what I did ten days ago, let alone ten years ago. And while you might be entertained by a cringeworthy look back at my pre-teen years, that’s a trip down memory lane I’m gonna pass on.

As is tradition though, I am going to wrap up 2019 with a look back at my favorites from the year. I promise you I’ll keep it concise, so without further ado, on to the lists!

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Dear Blog: 4th Blogiversary Celebration + A Party Favor for YOU!

Read on to the end for details on a special thank-you project I’m doing in celebration of 4 years of Maggie’s Musings!

Every year, it’s time for a blogiversary post and every year, I panic because I feel like I need to one-up myself from last year and do something EPIC in celebration. And why shouldn’t I? Four years of blogging is nothing to sneeze at, if I do say so myself. The problem is that despite my writing skills, I am not the best when it comes to party planning.

But never fear! I’ve decided to write a letter to my blog, reflecting on the past four years we’ve had together. Thank goodness my blog is not a real person though, because it would probably be throwing a toddler-sized tantrum about celebrating its birthday a week late.

And be sure to stick around to the end! I’ve got a special surprise to thank all of my lovely followers for four awesome years, so keep reading!

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Fictional Festivities | 12 Days of Christmas Book Tag

‘Tis the season to curl up in front of a fireplace with a good book and a big mug of hot cocoa. Snowflakes are falling outside of your window, and the only sound you hear is the crackle of the fire and the crinkle of pages being turned. It’s just you and the book, no one else around.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I find it’s a big challenging to get into the “Christmas spirit” when you’re a student. My school wrapped things up particularly late this year, so I didn’t get to go home until December 19. Between research papers on medieval and Renaissance literature and politics exams, it was easy to forget that Christmas was right around the corner.

And so I thought, what better way to get ready to celebrate Christmas than crank up my favorite Christmas music and participate in a Christmas-y book tag? This is the 12 Days of Christmas book tag, created by Falling Down The Book Hole, though I learned about it through Paper Fury’s post a few weeks ago. I did my very best to limit my answers to books I read this year, though you’ll see I bent the rules a tad bit…

Without further ado, let’s celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas!

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Imagination & Impact | Why The Game Awards Matters

Listen, I’m not here to bash on anyone’s favorite pastime or anything like that, but I have to confess: awards shows have absolutely zero appeal to me.

I can see why they would be interesting. If you’re a film or fashion aficionado, there’s a lot for you to see at say, the Oscars or the Golden Globes. The Tony Awards and the Grammys often feature performances from nominees or the big artists of the year. Beyond that, I think anyone who follows these awards shows would argue that they are meant to celebrate the accomplishments made in a particular industry, whether that be film, television, music, or theatre.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that our culture can come together to celebrate creative projects. In a society that increasingly emphasizes STEM fields at the expense of the arts and humanities, it’s nice to know that there are still people who appreciate things like this.

The struggle I often have – and this is not an original criticism in the slightest – is that these award shows tend to focus on a specific subset of people within a very broad industry. Awards often go to the productions with the biggest budgets, or the actors with the most recognized names, the shows that were hyped up by audiences and critics alike. To be blunt, I couldn’t care less about seeing an actor/actress who makes more money in a year than I will ever make in my life win an award.

That’s the kind of mentality I had when I first started following The Game Awards about a year ago. As the name implies, it is an award show for video games. Aside from being an industry that I care more about and follow more closely, I think there’s something that really sets The Game Awards apart from its more well-known counterparts. Having just watched the 2019 show a few days ago, I thought I’d take a look at what makes The Game Awards work well.

7 TGA

 

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November 2019 – Month in Review

My rule these days is keeping things short and sweet. It was November. It’s now December. I’m cold. I can’t believe the year is almost over and if one more person talks about it being the end of the decade I’m going to collapse on the floor and have an existential crisis.

So anyway, let’s focus on November for right now, because that seems slightly less threatening than focusing on December.

This month, I blogged about:

Also, you can watch my 1SE compilation for November 2019 via Google Drive this month. I don’t understand all of the COPPA stuff happening with YouTube, and while I don’t think it’s as big a deal as people are making it out to be, I want to wait until I understand everything before uploading anything else there. But here’s the video!

As for the rest of the month…

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Writer’s Life: A Year of Writing (2019)

With the amount of writing that I’ve been doing over the past year, I probably would’ve murdered a whole forest with the amount of paper I would have used, and that would be a shame. Fortunately, we live in a digital age, and so my projects live on in Scrivener files and Evernote notes, and I can continue looking out my bedroom window at trees.

I don’t say that to sound all proud or anything. Yeah, I did write a lot this year, but if we’re being honest, a lot of that writing was experimental, nothing that actually went anywhere. A lot of it was also writing for this blog, so I’ll leave you to judge the quality of that (don’t tell me, I’d like to live in my ignorance on this one). Oh, and there was a lot of academic writing too, which… well, again, I guess it’s more for my professor to decide whether it was good or not.

All this to say, looking back over the past year, I think my writing and I have had a pretty great 2019! I can see the ways that I’ve grown as a writer, honing my voice and experimenting with new genres. I’ve expanded my influences too by discovering new favorite books, shows, and other stories in a lot of different mediums. In light of it being the end of the year, I wanted to look back through what I’ve done as a writer this year, and look ahead to what 2020 might have in store for me!

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How to Make Me Read Your Book | 6 Story Tropes I Live For

Let’s saw we go to an ice cream parlor. My treat. I order my sundae, which is chocolate ice cream with peanut butter sauce, cookie dough chunks, whipped topping and rainbow sprinkles (no cherry). You open your mouth to order yours, but I cut you off and say, “We’ll both have the same thing.”

“But Maggie,” you protest. “I don’t like chocolate ice cream. And I’m allergic to peanuts! I’d much rather have vanilla ice cream with fudge and oreos on top!”

“Well, you’re wrong. My sundae is the best kind of sundae, so you’ll just have to learn to like it,” I say.

Sounds stupid, doesn’t it? Aside from the fact that my sundae would probably lead to me having a heart attack someday soon, it’s not gross or detestable. Neither is yours. Neither sundae is right or wrong, we just have different tastes in ice cream and its toppings, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Sometimes though, I think we get a certain idea about stories – we think that they have to be a certain way, and anything that doesn’t fit that mold is morally reprehensible. Granted, there are a few things that any story should have: your characters should be well-rounded and the plot should be coherent. Just as you wouldn’t put pickles on your strawberry ice cream, you wouldn’t write a story without those important elements.

But from there, who’s to say what the rules are? All audiences have different tastes when it comes to character and story tropes, so it’s just a matter of figuring out which ones work and hoping that the right person finds your story.

I try to keep an open mind when it comes to stories, but if I’m being honest, there are a few tropes that just get me, you know? Like, if I see one of those tropes in a story, and it’s being done well, it’s safe to say I’m hooked. I’ve compiled a list of a few of my favorites today – maybe you’ll agree, maybe you’ll disagree, but hey, that’s the fun of it!

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