October 2022 Leisure Learning

by Melissa Haas
published in Writing

How’s it going, word nerds? Do you have your challenging November writing goals all mapped out? In just about 9 days, many of our community members will be embarking on their projects for National Novel Writing Month, which has become an international event by now. I generally don’t participate in this event, but I do get into the spirit and hold myself accountable to more writing time than usual. In keeping with the assumption that there’s going to be a lot of “power writing” over the next four weeks, I chose links that are quick to ponder and perfect for those scheduled mini-breaks vital for keeping the creativity flowing. So without further ado, here is my October 2022 Leisure Learning.

European Mythological Creatures Map

Do you know where your mermaids come from? You better, because Vilnius University’s Center for Cartography now has a way of showing readers and writers where exactly the mythological beasts of Europe hail from. Pinpoint the origins of specific dragons, brownies and gnomes, among over 200 other creatures listed. Yes, your story might have mermaids, but are they the kind with disheveled hair and sagging breasts, found mainly in lakes and rivers? This map represents a magnificently whimsical aggregation of hardcore scholarly research. I highly recommend viewing this with your children, as it is an opportunity to practice locating map coordinates while also reminiscing about favorite fairytales.  

Found in a Library Book

As someone who works with books, I’m sure you’ve had the experience of finding something in a library book and wondering what other lives that book has lived. Librarian Sharon McKellar, of the Oakland, CA Public Library, collects items found in library books and posts them on the library website. Glimpse everything from amorous Post-It notes to family photos. There’s even a personalized $100 dollar bill to commemorate Mary’s 100th birthday. Not only will this collection give you some feels about your fellow humans, it’s a great resource for character inspo. It is also worth noting that their kids’ “found objects” collection is one of the larger sections and a great way to prompt conversations with your own younger family members.

Generation Trapper Keeper

When you are on the cusp of a defined generation, it can be difficult to navigate the diaspora between Gen X and say, Elderly Millenial. LitHub’s article on how a generation of authors held holy their Trapper Keepers gives a unifying feel to word nerds of a certain age. Take a minute to reminisce about one of the world’s most nostalgic school supplies and hear the stories of fellow word nerds. Perhaps you will even want to organize your next novel in concert with the sweet sound of Velcro.  

The Public Domain Review

The Public Domain Review (PDR) is a digital cabinet of curiosities. Beautifully curated, this non-profit organization collects films, images, text and audio works that have fallen into the public domain. It’s like stepping into a museum covering the human history of All Things Interesting: Japanese toy catalogs, snowball fights found in art (c. 1400–1946), x-rays of women wearing corsets. Every two weeks they publish new essays that link these past works to present-day culture.

If you have 5 minutes, I guarantee that something on their first page will have your neurons firing. The Paris Review has deemed The PDR one of their favorite journals, and all I can say is that this a rabbit hole worth falling through.  

The Romance of Being Surrounded By Books

Reading is a strange activity. Whether you are a reader or a writer, reading is an activity that requires you to conjure a world in your mind, one that won’t be like the author’s, or even like another reader’s. Yet, this highly interactive experience doesn’t look like much. Like so many things of substance or value where one is changed internally, things tend to appear pretty much the same externally. For any reader, walking into a bookstore or library is like entering a sort of time-travel-airport to all worlds. These 25 paintings capture the vivid quality of the bookish in their natural habitat.

October 2022 Leisure Learning

Melissa Haas is the author and illustrator of Catula: The Misadventures of Dracula’s Cat and The Night Before Christmas (NOW WITH CATS), among others. Follow Catula’s whereabouts on Instagram @CatulaTheCat. If you’re interested in downloading free coloring pages or seeing Margaret Atwood with a blowtorch, check out more Leisure Learning related content at www.MelissaHaasCreates.com.

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