Leap around like panicky jackrabbits

rabbits-jumping-illustration-gif

Mark Morford nails it again in: The Tragic Death of a Good Read

…You are not alone. Researchers say our brains are getting so heavily iTrained to leap around like panicky jackrabbits, any sentence that dares to contain more than eight words, any paragraph that contains multiple clauses, any long-form work that offers deep background info or long-winded, roundabout verbiage – AKA “literature” – merely leaves you sighing heavily and wishing for Candy Crush Saga

…English profs are reporting that their students are struggling more than ever to make it through the classics, because Henry James and Nathaniel Hawthorne don’t read like Gawker.

…It might be a small problem. It might be just a little indicative of a disturbing shift, a wicked sea change in the way we navigate not just books, not just magazines and media, but love, time, each other, the world.

…Have our insta-everything devices beaten the gracefulness out of our hearts and the patience out of our brains? And also the depth? And the meaning? Maybe.

Don’t miss reading the full post @ The Tragic Death of a Good Read


Image Credit

Crippled by procrastination…panic, self-loathing and soul-crushing inadequacy

Robert De Niro

“The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing. Isolated, neurotic, caffeine addled, crippled by procrastination, consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing and soul-crushing inadequacy… and that’s on a good day.”

Robert De Niro


Source: Photograph – Awards Circuit.  Quote: Your Eyes Blaze Out

Get. To. The. Point.

brief-joseph-mccormack


Excerpts from the Joseph McCormack’s Book Brief: The Brevity Mandate

“Here are the daunting challenges we all face every day to be heard: Attention spans are in a tailspin. In 2000, the average attention span was 12 seconds and now it’s only eight. Professionals are interrupted 6-7 times an hour, often unable to get back to the task at hand. More than 43% abandon complicated or lengthy emails in the first 30 seconds. And the majority of people admit ignoring half the e-mails they get every day.”

“The more you say, the less people hear”

“The business world today is full of information overload and there is not enough time to sift through it. If you cannot capture people’s attention and deliver your message with brevity, you’ll lose them.”

“The discipline to capture and manage elusive mindshare now shapes and defines professional success. Shorter emails, better organized updates, and tighter and more engaging presentations are immediate indicators that you’ve got what it takes to succeed in an attention economy.”

“Getting to the point is a non-negotiable standard.”


Find book on Amazon here.


Above all, remember the more harm you cause, the more hate you feel…

book,quotes,

“Pay attention to when the cart is getting before the horse. Notice when a painful initiation leads to irrational devotion, or when unsatisfying jobs start to seem worthwhile. Remind yourself pledges and promises have power, as do uniforms and parades. Remember in the absence of extrinsic rewards you will seek out or create intrinsic ones. Take into account [that] the higher the price you pay for your decisions the more you value them. See that ambivalence becomes certainty with time. Realize that lukewarm feelings become stronger once you commit to a group, club, or product. Be wary of the roles you play and the acts you put on, because you tend to fulfill the labels you accept. Above all, remember the more harm you cause, the more hate you feel. The more kindness you express, the more you come to love those you help.”

- David McRaney


Quote Source: Brainpickings - The Benjamin Franklin Effect: The Surprising Psychology of How to Handle Haters. Image from Amazon.


That’s right. Not yet.

true,funny,reading,books,


Looking at a many books < on my book shelf > and knowing…


Source: Assorted

I have led too serious a life

Henry-James

I have led too serious a life; but that perhaps, after all, preserves one’s youth. At all events, I have travelled too far, I have worked too hard, I have lived in brutal climates and associated with tiresome people. When a man has reached his fifty-second year without being, materially, the worse for wear — when he has fair health, a fair fortune, a tidy conscience and a complete exemption from embarrassing relatives — I suppose he is bound, in delicacy, to write himself happy.

~ Henry James (1843-1916) from The Diary of a Man of Fifty


Reference/Credits:

  • Henry James: “The Diary of a Man of Fifty is FREE at Amazon for Kindles/iPads.
  • Henry James was an American-born British writer, regarded as one of the key figures of 19th-century literary realism. He was the son of Henry James, Sr. and the brother of philosopher and psychologist William James and diarist Alice James.
  • Image and Quote Source: Brainpickings

You can never have too much sky

blue-colors

You can never have too much sky.
You can fall asleep
and wake up drunk on sky,
and sky can keep you safe when you are sad.
Here there is too much sadness
and not enough sky.
Butterflies are too few
and so are flowers
and most things that are beautiful.
Still we take what we can get and make the best of it.

— Sandra Cisneros


Credits: Image – A Poet Reflects. Poem: Stalwart Reader from The House on Mango Street


She meant slowing things down often classes them up

Frank-Bruni

“My mother was always lavish with advice, little of it original…—“Count to 10 before you speak,” she frequently said, and she meant not just that you can’t take back what’s already been uttered. She meant that pauses are the spaces in which passions cool, civility gets its oxygen, and wisdom quite possibly finds its wings. She meant that slowing things down often classes them up….”

“What would she have made of the social media born long after she died? Of a world in which so many of us, entranced by the opportunity for instant expression and an immediate audience, post unformed thoughts, half-baked wit or splenetic reactions before we can even count to three?…I’m talking about a revved-up metabolism and roughened-up manners…That happens in part because the exchanges are disembodied: We don’t have to face whomever we’re lashing out at. But it’s also because they’re impulsive. Their timbre conforms to their tempo. Both are coarse…”

“Conversely, there was talk this year about the benefits of an activity that’s in some ways the antithesis of texting and tweeting with their rat-tat-tat rhythm. That activity is the reading of fiction. According to some researchers, people who settle into it are more empathetic — more attuned to what those around them think and feel — than people who don’t…” [Read more...]

For the millionth time in the history of feeling

performing art, pink,color

“Even now, all possible feelings do not yet exist, there are still those that lie beyond our capacity and our imagination. From time to time, when a piece of music no one has ever written or a painting no one has ever painted, or something else impossible to predict, fathom or yet describe takes place, a new feeling enters the world. And then, for the millionth time in the history of feeling, the heart surges and absorbs the impact.”

Nicole Krauss, from The History of Love


Credits: Source: larmoyante. Photograph: Youreyesblazeout

Sad. 3 out of 10.

top 10 most read books in the world


Source: digg
Related Posts:

  1. He’s read 6128 books
  2. Books, Books, Books

Fact.

reading, books,book,true,funny


Source: Themetapicture.com

That old September feeling

angle of repose - wallace stegner

“That old September feeling, left over from school days, of summer passing, vacation nearly done, obligations gathering, books and football in the air… Another fall, another turned page: there was something of jubilee in that annual autumnal beginning, as if last year’s mistakes had been wiped clean by summer.”

— Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose


By one my favorite authors from one of my favorite books, the Pulitzer Prize Winning Angle of Repose.


Quote Source: Stalwart Reader. Find book on Amazon here.


I don’t seem to get to that wonderful state by working harder and faster

David-Allen

“Folks, can we hear it for sloth, indolence, and procrastination?!” That’s how I have started many of my seminars over the years. And it always gets thunderous applause and raucous cheers. I think it hits a nerve.

I’ve been working on both (self-forgiveness and sense of humor) for decades now, and still find it quite challenging at times. But you know, when I’m in a loving, whole, and healthy state of mind about myself and about life, everything’s cool. Where I am, doing what I’m doing, is exactly where I need to be and what I need to do. God’s on her throne, the mail is coming, my dog loves me, and tomorrow is just fine right where it is, not showing up until then.

And I don’t seem to get to that wonderful state of mind by working harder and faster. Sometimes it helps, but more often it just perpetuates the angst. [Read more...]

What is it that has etched itself into you?

Karl Ove Knausgård

“In the window before me I can vaguely see the image of my face.  Apart from my eyes, which are shining, and the part directly beneath, which dimly reflects light, the whole of the left side lies in shade.  Two deep furrows run down the forehead, one deep furrow runs down each cheek, all filled as it were with darkness, and when the eyes are staring and serious, and the mouth turned down at the corners it is impossible not to think of this face as somber.

What is it that has etched itself into you?”

~ Karl Ove Knausgaard (My Struggle: Book 2: A Man In Love. P.553)

 


I (finally) finished Knausgaard’s My Struggle: Book 1 and My Struggle: Book 2.  Highly recommended.

Related Post: That is when time begins to pick up speed (Karl Ove Knausgaard quote and bio)
Image Source: dagsavisen

wabi-sabi

home,warmth,comfort

sunlight,sun, sun rays [Read more...]

A life lived well is never wasted

Marilynne-Robinson

Lori, LouAnn and Sandy Sue inspired me to read books written by Natalie Goldberg following my share last month.  So I dove into the Long Quiet Highway and came across this passage early in her book.

“Often when you take on the voice of a great writer, speak his or her words aloud, you are taking on the voice of inspiration, you are breathing their breath at the moment of their heightened feelings, that what all writers ultimately do is pass on their breath.”

I paused and reflected on the “great” writers that I have read.  Marilynne Robinson immediately came to mind.  She has the ability to transport me to another place and time – - writing with such grace, such beauty and such humanity.  She’s won literary “hardware” for her three major novels.

  • HousekeepingNominated for the 1980 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and winner of the Hemingway/PEN Award for first fiction novel.
  • GileadWinner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and winner of the National Book Circle Critics Award for Fiction.
  • HomeWinner of the 2009 Orange Prize for Fiction award.

Soon after I read Goldberg’s thoughts on great writers, I came this excerpt from a Chicago Tribune article shared at Lit Verve  where the writer asks Robinson about Rev. John Ames, a congregational minister in Gilead, Iowa and the main character in her novel Gilead: [Read more...]

l’esprit de l’escalier

l'espirt de l'escalier word definition

murr-ma word definition

tsundoku word definition

[Read more...]

The End of Night

the-end-of-night-Paul-Bogard…In our haste to embrace a 24/7 lifestyle that makes increasing demands on our time, nocturnal hours once reserved for sociability, reflection and rest have been usurped. “What art thou good for … but only for love and fornication?” the character “Night” is asked in John Dryden’s comedy “Amphitryon” (1690). Today, not only is one-fifth of the labor force employed in shift work, but many day-to-day tasks (grocery shopping, for instance) are performed after dark. Silence and solitude fall prey to around-the-clock television and the allure of the Internet. Texting teenagers take their iPhones to bed. Burning the candle at both ends, we struggle to streamline sleep with the aid of plush pillows and prescription drugs and, in the process, impair our age-old ability to dream, a wellspring of ideas as inspiring as a starlit sky.

~A. Roger Ekirch, a review on Paul Bogard’s book titled The End of Night.


Credits:

In the skein of life

skein,string,yarn

“We say to the confused, Know thyself, as if knowing yourself was not the fifth and most difficult of human arithmetical operations, we say to the apathetic, Where there’s a will, there’s a way, as if the brute realities of the world did not amuse themselves each day by turning that phrase on its head, we say to the indecisive, Begin at the beginning, as if beginning were the clearly visible point of a loosely wound thread and all we had to do was to keep pulling until we reached the other end, and as if, between the former and the latter, we had held in our hands a smooth, continuous thread with no knots to untie, no snarls to untangle, a complete impossibility in the life of a skein, or indeed, if we may be permitted one more stock phrase, in the skein of life.”


Skein
/skān/

Noun
  1. A length of thread or yarn, loosely coiled and knotted.
  2. A tangled or complicated arrangement, state, or situation

Source: Thank you Whiskey River.  Image: yeraydorta

Yes.



James Joyce - Ulysses


 

Interpretation of passage in James Joyce’s Ulysses by shmoop.com:

“…The prose in the last few pages of Ulysses is breathtakingly beautiful. Throughout Bloom’s day, we’ve been forced to see all the banal unattractive parts of life: boredom, hunger, despair, the need to go to the bathroom, broken trust, small-mindedness, unrealizable dreams, apathy, our own insignificance. Joyce gives us a lot of very good reasons to think that life is a pretty tiny and horrible thing. Of course, we read this and we think that our life isn’t going to be like Bloom’s. I mean, he’s one pathetic guy, our life will be infinitely better than Bloom’s. But, truth be told, we have no way of knowing what our life is going to be. It’s quite possible that one day we’ll find ourselves in Bloom’s shoes, in a marriage based more in fondness than in romantic love, in a place where most of our dreams are stretched out behind us rather than laid out in front of us. And for all that, Joyce is telling us: Do not despair. He’s telling us to say yes to life, to swallow it whole, to find happiness wherever we can…”


Quote Source: proustitute.  Image: wallquotes.com.

A Love Letter from Kafka

Fran Kafka signature in letter to Milena Jesenska

Franz Kafka’s signature in a letter to Milena Jesenská. It reads:

Franz wrong,  F  wrong, Yours wrong
nothing more, calm, deep forest

Prague

July 29, 1920.


In 1919, Milena Jesenská was working as a translator.  She discovered a short story (The Stoker) by Prague writer Franz Kafka, and wrote him to ask for permission to translate it from German to Czech. The letter launched an intense and increasingly passionate correspondence. Jesenská and Kafka met twice: they spent four days in Vienna and later a day in Gmünd. Eventually Kafka broke off the relationship, partly because Jesenská was unable to leave her husband, and their almost daily communication ceased abruptly in November 1920. They meant so much to each other, however, that they did exchange a few more letters in 1922 and 1923 (and Kafka turned over to Jesenská his diaries at the end of his life). Kafka is regarded by critics as one of the most influential authors of the 20th century.  It is generally agreed that Kafka suffered from clinical depression and social anxiety throughout his entire life.  (Source: Wiki)


Source: Journal of a Nobody

Where is everybody? Inside your breast and skin, the entire cast.

Saul Bellow

“And now here’s the thing. It takes a time like this for you to find out how sore your heart has been, and, moreover, all the while you thought you were going around idle terribly hard work was taking place. Hard, hard work, excavation and digging, mining, moiling through tunnels, heaving, pushing, moving rock, working, working, working, working, panting, hauling, hoisting. And none of this work is seen from the outside. It’s internally done. It happens because you are powerless and unable to get anywhere, to obtain justice or have requital, and therefore in yourself you labor, you wage and combat, settle scores, remember insults, fight, reply, deny, blab, denounce, triumph, outwit, overcome, vindicate, cry, persist, absolve, die and rise again. All by yourself? Where is everybody? Inside your breast and skin, the entire cast.”

- Saul Bellow


Saul Bellow (1915 – 2005) was a Canadian-born American writer. He was born in Lachine, Quebec and died in Brookline, MA.  For his literary contributions, Bellow was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the National Medal of Arts. He is widely regarded as one of the 20th century’s greatest authors.  Bellow grew up as an insolent slum kid, a “thick-necked” rowdy, and an immigrant from Quebec. As Christopher Hitchens describes it, Bellow’s fiction and principal characters reflect his own yearning for transcendence, a battle “to overcome not just ghetto conditions but also ghetto psychoses.  The author’s works speak to the disorienting nature of modern civilization, and the countervailing ability of humans to overcome their frailty and achieve greatness (or at least awareness). Bellow saw many flaws in modern civilization, and its ability to foster madness, materialism and misleading knowledge. Principal characters in Bellow’s fiction have heroic potential, and many times they stand in contrast to the negative forces of society. (Source: Wiki)


Credits: Image – Flavorwire. Quote: WhiskeyRiver

That’s me. And me. And me. And me.

reading,read,addiction,books


But NOT Biblioclast (Sacrilegious!), Biblioklept/Bibliolestes (Blasphemous!), Bibliopole (Rarely and with anxiety), Biblioriptos (No!  Set them down gently, carefully, cautiously).


Source: Thank you Mme Scherzo via Amanda Patterson

And this is important! And this is important!

black and white,photography,portrait,close-up,woman

And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling “This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!” And each day, it’s up to you, to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say “No. This is what’s important.

~ Iain Thomas, I Wrote This For You


Credits: Quote – Thank you Mme Scherzo via I Wrote This For You: The Grand Distraction.  “I Wrote This For You” Book link @ Amazon. Photo: Impactlab.net

That is when time begins to pick up speed

Karl Ove Knausgård

“As your perspective of the world increases not only is the pain it inflicts on you less but also its meaning. Understanding the world requires you to take a certain distance from it. Things that are too small to see with the naked eye, such as molecules and atoms, we magnify. Things that are too large, such as cloud formations, river deltas, constellations, we reduce. At length we bring it within the scope of our senses and we stabilize it with fixer. When it has been fixed we call it knowledge. Throughout our childhood and teenage years, we strive to attain the correct distance to objects and phenomena. We read, we learn, we experience, we make adjustments. Then one day we reach the point where all the necessary distances have been set, all the necessary systems have been put in place. That is when time begins to pick up speed.  It no longer meets any obstacles, everything is set, time races through our lives, the days pass by in a flash and before we know what is happening we are forty, fifty, fifty…Meaning requires content, content requires time, time requires resistance. Knowledge is distance, knowledge is status and the enemy of meaning.”

~ Karl Ove Knausgaard, My Struggle: Book One (p.14-15)


Karl Ove Knausgård (born 6 December 1968) is a Norwegian author, most known for six autobiographical books, called Min Kamp. While Knausgård´s two first books were well-received, it was with the “Min Kamp”-books that Knausgård became a household name in Norway, due to the books large success, as well as the controversy they raised.  In 2009, Knausgård published My Struggle – First Book, the first volume of a total of six autobiographical novels, which were published in 2009, 2010, and 2011. The six books total well over 3500 pages.  The “Min Kamp”-books caused massive controversy when they were released, and whether Knausgård goes too far in exposing the private lives of his friends and family, including his ex-wife, has been much debated in Norway. The books have nevertheless received almost universally favourable reviews and were, even before the final book’s publication, one of the greatest publishing phenomena in Norway ever. (Source: Wiki)

James Wood at the The New Yorker titled his book review “Total Recall“: “There is something ceaselessly compelling about Knausgaard’s book: even when I was bored, I was interested.”  Wood nails it.  I’m 50 pages in and I find myself spellbound by his life story.

Credits: Quote Source: My Struggle: Book One @ amazon.com. Bio Source: Wiki. Image Source: dagsavisen

Reading. On Metro North.

reading

It’s Tuesday.
I’m on the 6:22 am train to Grand Central.
One of few trips a month taking me back to Manhattan.
I drift away for a moment.
It has been six years.
Six years since I’ve changed Company. Changed routine. Changed my life.

Two hours a day of uninterrupted reading time.
To, near zero.
Churning through three books a week. 150 books a year.
To, near zero.
Lost. In a character. In a story. In another place. In another time. [Read more...]

Synecdoche

I’m worried.  I liked this.  Don’t ask me how many times I hit go on this 8 second clip.  Here’s how to pronounce “Synecdoche“.  And, if the suspense is overwhelming and you want to know what “Synecdoche” means, the definition can be found here.


And if you are looking for a real word treat, check out this old post titled Words….  Loved this too.


Source: videohall

Related Posts: Synecdoche (jettiepoetry.wordpress.com)

People Will Never Forget How You Made Them Feel

“I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life. I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life.” I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”~ Maya Angelou

I’ve heard the last sentence of this quote (many times) but never the entire passage.  It has stuck with me for several weeks.  And I had no idea who the woman, Maya Angelou, was.  (I may be the only one on the planet. Francine/Joyce, don’t scold me.)  So, I started with Wiki and then went to an Oprah Interview.  What a life.  What an inspiration. A few excerpts from Wiki and Oprah’s talk: [Read more...]

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss. Let’s Read.

Dr. Seuss

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

~ Dr. Seuss


Theodore Seuss Geisel was born today in 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts. He attended Dartmouth College and Oxford.  He was a perfectionist in his work and he would sometimes spend up to a year on a book. It was not uncommon for him to throw out 95% of his material until he settled on a theme for his book.  Geisel’s first book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, was rejected 27 times before it was finally published by Vanguard Press in 1937. The Cat in the Hat was published in 1957.  Green Eggs and Ham in 1960.  (Could it have been that long ago?)  Geisel’s birthday, March 2, has been adopted as the annual date for National Read Across America Day.


There is nothing that I dislike

mirror, woman, portrait, black and white
“There is nothing I dislike.”

“These are the extraordinary words of the great teacher Linji; they are a lifetime koan for anyone who dares to take it on. Lifetime koans like this one never give up on you, luckily. ‘There is nothing I dislike’ is daring and fragrant and alive, and it is like this because it’s like this. ‘There is nothing I dislike’ rearranges us profoundly, when we offer ourselves to its energy, its scrutiny, its disturbance in us. [Read more...]

The Power of One lives on…

Bryce Courtenay died yesterday. He was the author of one of my favorite books: The Power of One.  The Guardian writes the following about Courtenay:  He was born into poverty in South Africa and studied journalism in London.  He started writing late in life after a 30-year career in advertising.  He was known for his dedication to work and prolific output, often writing for 12 hours a day and usually producing one new book at year.  This short < 1 minute clip was produced by Courtenay a few days ago before he died.  Take a moment and watch…it is inspiring and moving.

And here are two of my favorite passages from “The Power of One“: [Read more...]

He’s read 6,128 books…

Joe-Queenan, The-Wall-Street-Journal, ColumnistHe’s Joe Queenan, a columnist at The Wall Street Journal.  He started reading when he was 7 years old.  Fifty-five years later, he has read 6,128 books.  He “hopes to get through another 2,137 books before he dies.”

He often “reads dozens of books simultaneously.”  “(He) starts a book in 1978 and finishes it 34 years later.” 

He states that “a case can be made that people who read a preposterous number of books are not playing with a full deck.  I prefer to think of us as dissatisfied customers.  If you have read 6,000 books in your lifetime, or even 600, it’s probably because at some level you find ‘reality’ a bit of a disappointment.”

[Read more...]

Writing better…

John Steinbeck

“If there is a magic in story writing, and I am convinced there is, no one has ever been able to reduce it to a recipe that can be passed from one person to another. The formula seems to lie solely in the aching urge of the writer to convey something he feels important to the reader. If the writer has that urge, he may sometimes, but by no means always, find the way to do it. You must perceive the excellence that makes a good story good or the errors that makes a bad story. For a bad story is only an ineffective story.” 

~ John Steinbeck

 

Other writing tips from my favorite authors:

  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted. (Vonnegut)
  2. Start as close to the end as possible. (Vonnegut)
  3. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia. (Vonnegut)
  4. Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material. (John Steinbeck)
  5. If you are using dialogue—say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech. John Steinbeck
  6. Don’t over define your characters. Let the reader imagine them. (Hollinghurst)
  7. Read. Read. Read. (Hollinghurst)
  8. Know where you’re going before you start. (Hollinghurst)
  9. Leave a decent space of time between writing something and editing it. (Zadie Smith)
  10. Tell the truth through whichever veil comes to hand—but tell it. Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never ­being satisfied. (Zadie Smith)

Sources:

Related Posts:

Do what you love. Wrong!

So Good They Can't Ignore You - Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love - Cal Newport


When I read the title of this book, my head snapped back.  I believe that “doing what you love” (or pursuing your passion) leads to you being effective and satisfied in your job and leading a satisfying life.  Newport suggests that “following your passion is terrible advice” and that “skills trump passion in the quest for work you love.” I’ve bought the book and I’m starting to dig in.

Amazon’s book summary states that “Newport debunks the long-held belief that “follow your passion” is good advice. Not only is the cliché flawed-preexisting passions are rare and have little to do with how most people end up loving their work-but it can also be dangerous, leading to anxiety and chronic job hopping…Matching your job to a preexisting passion does not matter, he reveals. Passion comes after you put in the hard work to become excellent at something valuable, not before. In other words, what you do for a living is much less important than how you do it.”

There is a worthy start-of-the-week message in the excerpts from 800ceoread’s book review:

[Read more...]

Books, Books, Books

Thank you Maureen at Magnolia Beginnings for presenting me with The Booker Award. It’s a tall order to list my top 5 books of all time (so I’m giving you 11).  And, I’ve excluded “self-help”, “business” and “autobiographies” from this list.  Here we go:

My nominees for The Booker Award are listed below.  If you choose to participate, the rules of the award are to: 1) Nominate 5-10 bloggers and let your recipients know. (2) Post The Booker Award picture. (3) Share your top 5 books of all time.

[Read more...]

Just can’t finish…

Ulysses by James JoyceI’ve read books.  Let’s say hundreds.  Maybe more. (That’s not to brag, the point is coming.)  Rather than focus on the wonderful books that I’ve read and the vast amounts of information, learning and pleasure that I’ve derived from this pastime, I spend an inordinate amount of time dwelling on the less than 1% of the books that I haven’t finished.  The incomplete.  My inability to finish.

Resting firmly on top of this list is Ulysses by James Joyce.  That’s the cover on the right.  The book, the same hideous cover, has been sitting next to my desk for eight years.  It stares me down.  It torments me.  Here come the low guttural whispers:  Quitter.  Not capable.  Not good enough.  Over your head.  Farm boy.  Loser!  Public school project.

I happened to come across a recent article in Publishers Weekly titled “The Top 10 Most Difficult Books” and the festering sore opens wide again.

“…The “Difficult Books” series is devoted to identifying the hardest and most frustrating books ever written, as well as what made them so hard and frustrating…If you can somehow read all 10, you probably ascend to the being immediately above Homo sapiens…”

Here we go.  Intelligentsia slapping me around again.  You want to hit nerve – - hit me here.  Hit me.  Neanderthal man immediately surfaces.

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You’ve hit “PUBLISH” and THEN you spot a typo…


Source: i-o-u-a-fall via creatingaquietmind

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The secret sauce. Same old saw.

you-are-a-writer

“For every hundred words I write, I spend about thirty to sixty minutes of editing and rewriting.”  Jeff Goins

In Jeff Goins’ book titled You Are A Writer (So Start Acting Like One), Goins shares his secret sauce on becoming a writer.  And this message never seems to get old (for me):

  • Believe: You have to believe in yourself. Say you are a writer. And get started. Do it every day. Build the discipline and mental muscle.
  • Follow your Passion: Don’t pander to your audience. Find your voice. The audience will follow. “The more I love what I do, the more others do, too.”
  • Writing is hard work. “It’s harder than you think.” “You better love it. (Otherwise, quit now.)
  • Build Relationships: “It’s more about who you know than what you know.” Build a community of followers (via blogging). You have more channels to do so today than at any time in history.  Network. Build relationships with publishers.

Jeff Goins is an author, blogger, and speaker.  In 2011, his blog, goinswriter.com, was voted as one of the “Top 10 Blogs on Writing” and his writing has been featured on some of the most popular blogs including Copyblogger, Problogger and Zen Habits.

My book summary:

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Read to lead.

From HBR Blog Network: For Those Who Want to Lead, Read.  (DK: I believe all of this to be true.)

reading“…For the first time in American history, “less than half of the U.S. adult American population is reading literature.”

“…This is terrible for leadership, where trends are even more pronounced. Business people seem to be reading less — particularly material unrelated to business. But deep, broad reading habits are often a defining characteristic of our greatest leaders and can catalyze insight, innovation, empathy, and personal effectiveness.”

“…And history is littered not only with great leaders who were avid readers and writers (remember, Winston Churchill won his Nobel prize in Literature, not Peace), but with business leaders who believed that deep, broad reading cultivated in them the knowledge, habits, and talents to improve their organizations.”

“…Evidence suggests reading can improve intelligence and lead to innovation and insight…reading makes you smarter through “a larger vocabulary and more world knowledge in addition to the abstract reasoning skills.” Reading…is one of the quickest ways to acquire and assimilate new information.” [Read more...]

You are reading my post, and…

 

silently correctly my grammar

 


Adapted from teachingliteracy

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Mid-Summer Afternoons…

There was no air conditioning, central, window or otherwise.  There were no large, five-speed oscillating fans.  The one 12-inch fan in the house, hummed like a diesel and was in the kitchen where it kept Mom cool while she was preparing our meal.  Dinner included a cool cucumber soup, vareneki and peach pie – - cucumbers individually pulled off the vines in the garden and plump, ripe peaches picked from our fruit trees. The oven, running all afternoon, added to the oppressive heat in the house.

We had one TV, with one channel, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.  Hockey Night in Canada (Saturday Nights) was one of the few programs worthy of watching.  And, in any event, watching TV during the day was taboo.  We had one radio station, and it was country.  (So no radio.)  There was no internet.  No Playstation. No iPhones, iTunes, iPods, iPads, iAnthing.  No desktops or laptops.  No Barnes & Noble, Borders, Waldenbooks or Amazon.  No Kindles, Nooks or Readers.  The Public Library was miles away and I had never set my foot in it.  We had a camera but that was off limits and of little interest. [Read more...]

One word.

Source: designersof via Creatingaquietmind

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All-Blogger Alert!

blog shoo inHere are links to notable blogging/writing posts in the past week:

Kurt Harden @ Cultural Offering with I Love a Tradition and Ray Visokski @ A Simple Village Undertaker with Officially A Tradition where they invite bloggers to a face-to-face meeting in Newark. (I was reading too fast.  I thought they meant Newark, NJ which would have been a no-brainer.  The idea has me thinkin’.  Maybe something smaller and more local? Yes, Brenna, me too – way (way) out of comfort zone. On the other hand, YOLO?)

Madame Scherzo: The 10 Most Commonly Misunderstood Words In English.  (Got me on “Enormity” and several others.)

Michael Hyatt15 Resources For Pro Bloggers (Or those who want to be).  (I’m not a Mac user but there are solid tips in his post.)

Caitlin Kelly @ BroadsideBlogHer 2012 — was it worth it? “Three days of full-on intensity, 5,000 bloggers in one midtown Manhattan hotel, about 80 percent of whom — maybe 90 percent — were female, and under the age of 40…”

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Like Sisyphus. Just not as good.

ME
Me: Monday. (Big Plans. Big Things. Big Hopes. Get started.)
Me: Tuesday. (Meetings. Calls. Emails. Set aside big things.)
Me: Wednesday. (More meetings. More Calls. More Emails. Full of…little things.)
Me: Thursday. (Where you taking me today pal? Going to play big? Or little?)
Me: Friday. (Start planning for Big today.)


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How to Write.

James JoyceFrom NY Times Sunday Book Review by Colson Whitehead: A few excerpts:

Rule No. 1: Show and Tell.

Rule No. 2: Don’t go searching for a subject, let your subject find you. You can’t rush inspiration…you can’t force it. Once your subject finds you, it’s like falling in love. It will be your constant companion…Your ideal subject should be like a stalker with limitless resources…

Rule No. 3: Write what you know…listen to your heart. Ask your heart, Is it true? And if it is, let it be. Once the lawyers sign off, you’re good to go…

Rule No. 4: Never use three words when one will do. Be concise. Don’t fall in love with the gentle trilling of your mellifluous sentences…

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Real poetry is to lead a beautiful life…

The Gentlest and Greatest Friend of Moon and Winds.  Basho, 1644 – 1694

artemisdreamingMany years ago there went wandering through Japan, sometimes on the back of a horse, sometimes afoot, in poor pilgrim’s clothes, the kindest, most simple hearted of men…Basho, friend of moon and winds. Though Basho was born of one of the noblest classes in Japan, and might have been welcome in palaces, he chose to wander, and to be comrade and teacher of men and women, boys and girls in all different stations of life, from the lowest to the highest.  Basho bathed in the running brooks, rested in shady valleys, sought shelter from sudden rains under some tree on the moor, and sighed with the country folk as he watched the cherry blossoms in their last pink shower, fluttering down from the trees.  Now he slept at some country inn, landscape in the moonlightstumbling in at its door at nightfall, wearied from long hours of travelling, yet never too tired to note the lovely wisteria vine, drooping its delicate lavender blossoms over the veranda.  Sometimes he slept in the poor hut of a peasant, but most often his bed was out-of-doors, and his pillow a stone.

When Basho came upon a little violet hiding shyly in the grass on a mountain pathway, it whispered its secret to him.  “Modesty, gentleness, and simplicity!” it said.  “These are the truly beautiful things.”

Glistening drops of dew on the petal of a flower had  voice and a song for him likewise. “Purity,” they sang, “is the loveliest thing in life.

The pine tree, fresh and ever green amid winter’s harshest storms, spoke staunchly of hardy manhood;  the mountains had their message of patience, the moon its song of glory!  Rivers, forests, waterfalls, all told their secrets to Basho, and these secrets that Nature revealed to him, he loved to show to others, for the whole of living of life was to him one great poem, as of some holy service in the shadow of a temple.

“Real poetry,” said Basho, “is to lead a beautiful life.  To live poetry is better than to write it.”  And whenever he saw one of his young students being rude, in a fit of anger, or otherwise acting unworthily, he would gently lay his hand on the arm of the youth and say; “But this is not poetry! This is not poetry.”

~ Olive Beaupré Miller, A children’s book titled Little Pictures of Japan originally published in 1925

 

 


Source: artemisdreaming via madamescherzo

Reading is everything…

Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron (May 19, 1941 – June 26, 2012) “was an American journalist, screenwriter, novelist, producer, director and blogger. She was best known for her nominations for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle.” More than 800 celebrated her memorial at the Lincoln Center yesterday.  R.I.P. Nora…


Source: hiscalifornia via abirdeyeview

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Zeke + Buddhist Monk + Almonds = Enlightenment!

zeke staring at almond9:15 pm.  June 26, 2012.

Zeke, our four-year old Vizsla, has excellent hearing and smell.  But not for the bird hunting discipline that he was bred for – - but for California Blue Diamond Smokehouse Almonds.  From a room away, he can hear a 1/2 turn on the top of the plastic Almond container.  If he’s outside and comes inside, his nose goes 911 when he sniffs a whiff of a single nut.

Zeke and I have a routine each night.  He waits for Dad’s snack time before bed time when Dad and Zeke share a heaping handful of almonds.  Most days, it’s one for Zeke, one for Dad, one for Zeke, one for Dad.  (OK, sometimes Dad cheats on the allocation when Zeke isn’t looking. OK, OK, more than sometimes.)

Zeke wolfs down his Almond without breaking his eye lock with Dad.  No chewing.  Straight down the gullet.  1 Almond.  2 Almonds.  3 Almonds.  Same pattern.  He gives me the same desperate look that he might miss out on his share if he breaks his stare.   (Those eyes are telling me that he knows that I’m cheating him out of his allocation.)

I proceed to tell him that “maybe you should chew your almonds and enjoy them rather than just scarfing them down without tasting them – maybe you won’t keep begging for more.” (I’m no different that you other dog owners.  I believe he understands me but he just doesn’t want to cooperate.)

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(Today) Be soft…

 

be soft


Source: thechaffandthewind via madamescherzo

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I’ve never worked a day in my life…

ray bradburyRay Bradbury, 91, died on Tuesday.  Bradbury, a celebrated fiction writer, is best known for Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles & The Illustrated Man.  Brain Pickings had a terrific post on a speech he gave at a writer’s symposium.  While his speech was directed to writers, there is an important message here for all of us.  A few choice excerpts:

…Writing is not a serious business. It’s a joy and a celebration. You should be having fun with it…It’s not work. If it’s work, stop and do something else…

…People are always saying “Well, what do we do about a sudden blockage in your writing?…You’re being warned…Your subconscious is saying “I don’t like you anymore. You’re writing about things I don’t give a damn for”.

…I’ve never worked a day in my life…The joy of writing has propelled me from day to day and year to year. I want you to envy me, my joy. Get out of here tonight and say: “Am I being joyful?” And if you’ve got a writer’s block, you can cure it this evening by stopping whatever you’re writing and doing something else. You picked the wrong subject.

Ray Bradbury (August 22, 1920 – June 5, 2012)

If you are interested in a personal perspective on Bradbury, check out Christian Fahey’s post at The Upside: Ray Bradbury: An Appreciation


Sources: Quote explore-blog; Artwork by Lou Romano via louromano.blogspot.com via Mme Scherzo

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