The Weekly Mixed Tape: Snail Mail, Stories, Goats, and More


This weekend I’m taking a road trip. Not an adventurous one, but a much-needed trip to see my parents and sweet baby sister. I’m predicting coffee and tea by the wood stove, old bay popcorn (we’re Marylanders through and through) during a British movie or two, and playground-hopping with an energetic seven-year-old. In pigtails.

But I do plan on getting quality work in.

I am at my creative best when I’m in a different setting. New states, new coffee shops, new rooms of the house, you name it. So I’m looking forward to a creative burst heading back to a place I haven’t set foot in for awhile.

What puts you at your creative best? Let me hear ’em, so I can steal your suggestions and make them work for me.


ONE: Letters in the Mail

Who doesn’t like to receive old-fashioned letters these days? [Confession: I own a wax seal stamp, and I use it.] Letter writing is a dying art, long bullied by more instant forms of written communication. I pull lots of envelopes from the mailbox, but there’s not much left after I separate out the bills and the bills and the advertisements.

Stephen Elliot, author and founder of The Rumpus, came up with a bit of genius to keep literary lovers happy: monthly (and sometimes weekly) snail mail from famous authors. I’m talking Dave Eggers, Amy Bender, Tao Lin, and Jonathan Ames, just to name a few.

Drawing off Elliot’s own email subscription as a model, authors write deeply personal letters a few times a month, and the letters find their way to your address for a small monthly fee.

I wouldn’t mind a stamped letter from Dave Eggers nestled in my mailbox.

Read about it here, and subscribe here.


TWO: “Scapegoating is the New Planking”

I happened upon Adam Lasky’s blog this week. I’ve only had a little time to browse around, but I can promise you that his site is GOLD. Creativity and comedy. A match made in heaven.

Check out his post on scapegoating. We all need to hear it and laugh about it. Also, I may or may not have blamed certain family members for my lack of concentration this week. And my lack of writing.


THREE: “How to Tell a Good Story with Your Life”

If you’ve read enough posts here, you know that I’m a major Donald Miller fan. And if you haven’t yet read A Million Miles in a Thousand Yearsget yourself to a bookstore now.

Until then, check out his “The Four Critical Elements of a Meaningful Life.” With some serious reflection and implication, you’ll forever be changed. 


FOUR: “What Makes This Paragraph So Great?”

Another gem from Donald Miller’s blog, but I couldn’t pass it up. He wrote it in 2009, but he tweeted it yesterday, so that means it’s fair game for this review of the week. It’s advice for all us description lovers out there, the ones who like to make writing pretty.

I stand convicted.


What are your plans for the weekend? 

What have you stumbled across this week?