Marginalia: Journal Prompts (June)

"Words are things," Dr Maya Angelou said once. She believed in the power of words as more than mere communication. Whether you're a reader or a writer or neither of those, language is an everyday tool that no one can do without. Those who have speech disabilities also need and use a language. We know from anthropologists that several primate and bird species also have their own languages for communication. But we do take language entirely for granted, don't we? This month, let's take a look at the words, phrases, cliches, metaphors, etc., that interest us, drive us, and make us think and feel. You can write to each daily prompt in your private journal, on your blog, or even in the comments below.

BBC Culture’s Stories That Shaped the World Project

Last month, 108 contributors — journalists, academics, writers, literary critics, etc — from 35 countries were invited by BBC Culture to share their list of five stories that they believe have shaped our world. Not favorites, mind you, but stories that "have had the most impact on shaping ideas and changing minds throughout history." I was honored to be among those invited. Below, I am sharing my five picks and the reasons why. Also, at the end, you can check out the final published lists at BBC Culture's website. Please do share your five stories that you think have shaped the world in the comments if you are so inclined.

Published: Take It Apart by the Seams: Vera Tobin on Your Brain on Fiction (PopMatters)

I enjoyed doing this interview with Dr Vera Tobin about her recent non-fiction book, Elements of Surprise, which I had reviewed earlier. We discussed the cognitive, linguistic, and narrative aspects of the "well-made surprise" in fiction (books and movies). We also talked about fake news, "dumb-smart" stories, unreliable narrators, and a lot more. PS If you enjoy the posts I share here, please do share them on via social media. Every bit helps us writers get a bit of visibility and it's a quick little step that costs nothing except a few seconds of time. Thank you.