Posts Tagged: Why Write
If I were independently wealthy, I would be less for it, because the chase for money to pay for food, shelter, babies, and now small children has taken me from sharing with two women an eighty square foot octagonal house originally built in the early twentieth century in rural Florida to house a wealthy child’s doll collection, to a room in a massive and mostly unoccupied schoolhouse converted into a lakefront hotel by the tax evading gangster Al Capone...more
Roxane Gay is writing some consistently amazing stuff at HTMLGIANT. Today she has an essay on Franzen hating and what we care about and what matters. But it’s much better than that, lyrical, full of associations. It’s like your tripping along her synapses watching her thoughts connect....more
Robert McKee is best known to the world in two ways: as the guy who teaches the popular STORY seminar in Los Angeles and around the world to would-be screenwriters, and as the character in the film Adaptation who teaches a popular screenwriting seminar at which the Charlie Kaufman character is berated after standing up and asking tentatively and desperately, “Sir, what if a writer is attempting to create a story where nothing much happens?...more
Here’s some weekend reading: Sigrid Nunez has written a beautiful memoir of Susan Sontag in the latest issue of Tin House. (The text is not available online, but I highly recommend you pick up this issue of Tin House: it’s a really good one.) Nunez was involved with Sontag’s son David, and all three lived together for many years, and much of the memoir is about that time, but Nunez and Sontag remained friends for years after their household split up....more
Dame Helen Gardner and George Newton Bowlin Laws—it seems funny, but very good to me to see them in the same sentence.
I first saw Helen Gardner, brilliant scholar, denizen of Oxford University, later to be made a Dame on her learning alone, at UCLA. She was so smart and so dazzling in the way she taught that she made your eyes water....more
I have two of Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies index cards taped to my monitor. They are supposed to motivate me while slowly radiating guilt. Obliquely, I guess. One reads: Not building a wall, but making a brick (sands, time, hourglass, you see?) The other: What are you really thinking about just now?...more
“I can’t claim to be an authority on anything, but I can honestly say that certain matters absolutely fascinate me, and that I write about them all the time. The two basic topics which fascinate me are “What is reality?” and “What constitutes the authentic human being?” Over the twenty-seven years in which I have published novels and stories I have investigated these two interrelated topics over and over again.”
“After opening my post on many mornings, I indulge in a few minutes of anguish and muted screams, then devote the next hour or more, if necessary, to tackling the mess.
When I have satisfied myself that I have done the best I can by letter and telephone, I stand up from my desk and try to pretend I am not me, that I have no problems, that the past hour or more has not really happened, because I have to think myself into a state of innocence and the absence of worries of any kind in order to work....more
Louise Bourgeois is the rare artist whose orbit intersects with many big thinkers and personalities of the last century, while always remaining relevant and enduring. Not bad for ninety-seven.
I love the way she hones her images and takes them into new psychological spaces, and even the way her voice sounds when she speaks....more
The piece, entitled “Beirut Rising,” “entertains with its amusing depiction of the Lebanese passion for plastic surgery, but the essay also penetrates deep into to the sadness at the city’s core.”
In order to highlight the piece, VQR‘s Anna Sheaffer asked Michelle 6 questions to “get her thoughts on Beirut’s political future, travel writing, and reporting in territory where journalists are suspect.”...more
A 20 page essay on “Why I Write” by Rumpus editor Stephen Elliott. Part memoir/part tips and insight. $3 from Scribd, read online or download. (He says he’s going to publish it on The Rumpus at some point, so you could just wait it out.)...more
In a post from April 2003, entitled Marx’s Neurosis About Money, Caleb Crain quoted Edmund Wilson to the effect that “Karl Marx’s social theories suited his psychological needs as an ambitious writer who was chronically broke and less than honest with himself about money.”
This passage reminded Crain of a “half-baked idea” he’d had while living in Prague, at a time when “socialism had been so recently overturned that capitalism had not yet set in.”
Namely, the idea was that socialism presents, to the struggling writer, an “awfully convenient arrangement”: under capitalism, if a writer takes a low-paying, intellectually undemanding job in order to reserve something for his writing, he is subject to self-doubt (owing to the lack of success implied by a lack of money); whereas under socialism, jobs that are intellectually demanding don’t pay much more than undemanding ones, and moreover they make you complicit with the regime, so a writer is free — perhaps even obligated!...more
For almost 20 years, Thomas Swick edited his newspaper’s travel section, freelancing a couple of books along the way....more