Month: July 2008 Page 2 of 5

Even more reading about writing

Another day without Andy, another Atlantic Monthly article.

Riley spent most of his day going between the two pillows I laid flat on the couch, taking turns lying on each. Sadly I am not that easily entertained. Instead, I spent most of today tearing up over television (We Are Marshall and Grey’s Anatomy reruns) and cleaning. Much more interesting, right?


Once you get past the intro, “Writing, Typing, and Economics” is pretty good, contrary to what its title might suggest.

All writers know that on some golden mornings they are touched by the wand — are on intimate terms with poetry and cosmic truth. I have experienced those moments myself. Their lesson is simple: It’s a total illusion. And the danger in the illusion is that you will wait for those moments. Such is the horror of having to face the typewriter that you will spend all your time waiting. I am persuaded that most writers, like most shoemakers, are about as good one day as the next (a point which Trollope made), hangovers apart. The difference is the result of euphoria, alcohol, or imagination. The meaning is that one had better go to his or her typewriter every morning and stay there regardless of the seeming result. It will be much the same.

The best place to write is by yourself, because writing becomes an escape from the terrible boredom of your own personality.

And one of particular interest to me, She Who Cannot Be Funny To Save Her Life:

I would urge my young writers to avoid all attempts at humor. … Humor is an intensely personal, largely internal thing. What pleases some, including the source, does not please others. … Also, as Art Buchwald has pointed out, we live in an age when it is hard to invent anything that is as funny as everyday life.

Hmm, should I let Dooce and Jon Stewart know? Oh wait, their humor IS based on everyday life.

More reading about writing

Tonight I dropped Andy off at the airport because he is spending the next week in Germany on business. In truth, I’m lucky: thanks to his summer intern Raunaq, he had to cut what was originally a two-week business trip in half so that he could be here for Raunaq’s final presentation and evaluation. Thank you, Raunaq! (Who doesn’t read this blog, I’m sure…)

Anyway, I thought this would be easier than last year’s one-week trip to Germany, because now we have Riley, and the BlackBerry (free international calls!), and Netflix. And I guess is is easier. But it’s still not easy. However stupid that is.

(Yes, I know he’s coming back, and yes, I know it’s only a week. Facts and feelings are not always aligned, you know?)

To stave off the loneliness, I watched a couple episodes of Hannah Montana, the last half of 10 Things I Hate About You, and all of Monster-In-Law. (Mmm, Michael Vartan…)

Then I went back to the thing that got me through my whole only-child-hood, the thing that made me never feel lonely growing up: reading.

So continuing my earlier post about letters from established writers to us young hopefuls (as published in Atlantic Monthly), here are a few excerpts from “To a Young Writer” by Wallace Stegner (the guy who founded the creative writing program at Stanford University):

For one thing, you never took writing to mean self-expression, which means self-indulgence. You understood from the beginning that writing is done with words and sentences, and you spent hundreds of hours educating your ear, writing and rewriting and rewriting until you began to handle words in combination as naturally as one changes tones with the tongue and lips in whistling. I speak respectfully of this part of your education because every year I see students who will not submit to it—who have only themselves to say and who are bent upon saying it without concessions to the English language. In acknowledging that the English language is a difficult instrument, and that a person who sets out to use it expertly has no alternative but to learn it, you did something else: you forced yourself away from that obsession with self that is the strength of a very few writers and the weakness of so many. You have labored to put yourself in charge of your material; you have not fallen for the romantic fallacy that it is virtue to be driven by it. By submitting to language you submitted to other disciplines, you learned distance and detachment, you learned how to avoid muddying a story with yourself.

How often the writing of young writers is a way of asserting a personality that isn’t yet there, that is only being ravenously hunted for.

… how love lasts, but changes, how life is full of heats and frustrations, causes and triumphs, and death is cool and quiet. It does not sound like much, summarized, and yet it embodies everything you believe about yourself and about human life and at least some aspects of the people you have most loved. In your novel, anguish and resignation are almost in balance. Your people live on the page and in the memory because they have been loved and therefore have been richly imagined.

Foto Friday: The Riley Show

(Here’s the link for anyone who can’t see or play the embedded video.)


As Andy will groan and tell you, this is SO ME:


(No, seriously.)

Also, this one’s just hilarious:


Baby’s First Internet, brought to my attention via Blurbomat.

Capture Cincinnati

I’m sure they do it for like every city, but a coworker told me about Capture Cincinnati and I thought it was pretty cool. There are some really great photos there, so check ’em out. (And yes, disclosure: I decided to participate.)

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