July? Already? It’s disconcerting to realize that in some places, people are suffering through the worst heat wave ever in the area, and at the same time, back to school sales are starting.
I love back to school sales; fresh notebooks, new pens. It’s so exciting. One day I will find the perfect combination of pen and notebook…maybe. I suppose if I’m going to be a writer, just like any other kind of artist, I can be fussy about my tools, Adam’s commentary about violins notwithstanding. (Adam got really annoyed when he had to edit this joke, so… mission accomplished.)
A new month means we turn our attention to a new theme in the Ivory Tower Boiler Room and we get to sit down for a new Writers’ Round Table, too. We consider a theme, select a Big Think subject and take time individually to reflect on it, ruminating over time as we discuss, write, rewrite, revise and edit. It’s a way to focus our unique, individual perspectives on things. But the round table lets us bring those same perspectives together in real time, and sometimes to challenge each other.
So what is the theme for this month? It’s public scholarship. And if you don’t know what that is, we’ve been having the same conversation: What is a public scholar? What is the value of scholarship (biographies, documentaries, public readings and discussions, and, of course, podcasts and blogs) when it’s directed at the public instead of (or as well as) at other scholars?
As a team, as a community, we are always learning, and always teaching. When I wrote my Big Think for June and made a connection between the movie Mean Girls and a line from a Walt Whitman poem… that’s so clearly Andrew’s influence, pushing me to look differently at the works of Whitman… and the fact that I could write the piece I did, that’s Adam’s influence, having spent countless hours letting me annoy him as I discover things about my process. I know I’ve done my share of teaching, too.
You’ll get a clearer picture of our July and August themes (they’re inseparably interlaced, the way your fingers are when you first hold hands with someone you’ve got a crush on,) tomorrow, along with a sneak peak and what works of fiction, poetry, music, television, and yes, scholarship, the group is perusing now. Keep reading, keep listening, and share your recommendations; we’re always looking for new things to read, to see and hear.
Big Cat, Little Cat
There are three identical panels, each depicting a large orange cat looking down contentedly at a small, grey cat who is looking out of the frame with a pinched and put-upon facial expression.
Big Cat says to Little Cat: “Little Cat, what do you do when you have writer’s block?”
Little Cat responds: “I don’t know. My solution to most problems is to go outside.”
Big Cat asks: “To walk?”
“Sure, Big Cat,” Little Cat answers. “If that’s what you call murdering innocent songbirds when I’m not even hungry.”
Big Cat wonders out loud: “Does that work to get the juices flowing?”
Little Cat shrugs: “I guess. Worked for Hemingway, right?”