Posts filed under ‘writing’

the present

“I had never done anything like this before. I was a reader and a good student, but I didn’t keep a commonplace book or anything like that. I didn’t have a journal. I wouldn’t even start keeping a more traditional writer’s notebook for another seven years. But I stuck this index card in the front pocket of my three-ring binder, and when I went to college the following year, I pinned it on the bulletin board over my desk, where it stayed all four years, fading in the sun.”

Jessica Francis Kane, on Marcus Aurelius, Book 8, #34.

“…remind yourself that it is not the future or what has passed that afflicts you, but always the present, and the power of this is much diminished if you take it in isolation and call your mind to task if it thinks that it cannot stand up to it when taken on its own.”

An interesting circumstance, an interesting quote, if it could help me deal with my impatiences it would love it dearly…


29 July 2013 at 09:49 Leave a comment

the horror…

Why do you write?

I wish I knew. Sometimes it feels so good that I am amazed that I get to feel this. At other times it is not like that at all, and I wish, with a sort of intensity that is hard to believe, that I had taken up something else. The truth is that if you are a surgeon, after 20 years, you will think like a surgeon. If you are a lawyer, after 20 years you will think like a lawyer. If you are a second-story man, after 20 years you will think like a second-story man. By now, I think like a novelist, which means, of course, that I am always looking for stories and, the deeper layer as Melville liked to say, a pattern underneath these stories. But, still, I write out of pleasure, which comes at the price of the horror that I have gotten myself into this.

Interview with Craig Nova on

17 July 2013 at 08:57 Leave a comment

A (sort of) discourse on writing

Italo Calvino, “Quickness,” from Six Memos for the Next Millennium, trans. Patrick Creagh:

‘Discoursing,’ or ‘discourse,’ for Galileo means reasoning, and very often deductive reasoning. ‘Discoursing is like coursing’: this statement could be Galileo’s declaration of faith – style as a method of thought and as literary taste. For him, good thinking means quickness, agility in reasoning, economy in argument, but also the use of imaginative examples.

How do you contend with the hubris of thinking anyone has or should have any interest in what you have to say about anything?

Aschenbrand: I don’t.

Waldman: There are so many books written by men that lovingly detail their male hero’s romantic and sexual exploits as he conquers the big city with his intellect. I can live with the hubris of wanting to write an alternate account of this scenario in which I examined the protagonist’s treatment of women a little more skeptically.

Bruni: Equal measures of narcissism and humility seem absolutely essential to the act of opening one’s mouth to say anything at all. Some days privileging telling stories that exist in my head over so many other ways of engaging with the world in a more meaningful way produces plenty of guilt. Other days I see storytelling as one tool for creating empathy and identification between people. Which is a small thing. But it’s something.

Nutting: Caffeine. Prozac. Elastic waistband pants. Dog hair.

24 June 2013 at 19:03 Leave a comment

writers and sociability

Alice Munro is retiring:

In 1994, she told the Paris Review: “It’s not the giving up of the writing that I fear. It’s the giving up of this excitement or whatever it is that you feel that makes you write. This is what I wonder: what do most people do once the necessity of working all the time is removed? Even the retired people who take courses and have hobbies are looking for something to fill this void, and I feel such horror of being like that and having that kind of life. The only thing that I’ve ever had to fill my life has been writing. So I haven’t learned how to live a life with a lot of diversity. The only other life I can imagine is a scholarly life, which I probably idealise.”

but now…

“I’m delighted. Not that I didn’t love writing, but I think you do get to a stage where you sort of think about your life in a different way. And perhaps, when you’re my age, you don’t wish to be alone as much as a writer has to be. It’s like, at the wrong end of life, sort of becoming very sociable,” she said.

21 June 2013 at 10:33 Leave a comment

“I couldn’t finish this…

…But you’ll probably like it”.

13 June 2013 at 11:41 Leave a comment

TS Eliot prize

I find it of interest that a prize named after such an … academic poet would be awarded for such personal poetry that the author sometimes regrets her choices. Not surprising. Just interesting. It seems that most things get turned on their heads.

Still, Sharon Olds took her chances and has this as a reward.

26 January 2013 at 08:42 Leave a comment

tools of writing

“A history teacher got more granular. He pointed out that the students’ sentences were short and disjointed. What words, Scharff asked, did kids who wrote solid paragraphs use that the poor writers didn’t? Good essay writers, the history teacher noted, used coordinating conjunctions to link and expand on simple ideas—words like for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so. Another teacher devised a quick quiz that required students to use those conjunctions. To the astonishment of the staff, she reported that a sizable group of students could not use those simple words effectively. The harder they looked, the teachers began to realize, the harder it was to determine whether the students were smart or not—the tools they had to express their thoughts were so limited that such a judgment was nearly impossible.”

1 October 2012 at 08:53 Leave a comment

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T. Anderson Painter

I am a misanthrope. No one ever believes me, but this seems to prove my point.



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