Almost

almost_home_book_cover_Joan_Bauer

Almost.
It’s a big word for me.
I feel it everywhere.
Almost home.
Almost happy.
Almost changed.
Almost, but not quite.
Not yet.
Soon, maybe.

~ Joan Bauer, “Almost Home”


Joan Bauer, 62, is an award-winning author of young adult literature. Before publishing her first book, Bauer worked for the Chicago Tribune, McGraw Hill books and WLS Radio.

“I had moved from journalism to screenwriting when one of the biggest challenges of my life occurred. I was in a serious auto accident which injured my neck and back severely and required neurosurgery. It was a long road back to wholeness, but during that time I wrote Squashed, my first young adult novel. The humor in that story kept me going. Over the years, I have come to understand how deeply I need to laugh. It’s like oxygen to me. My best times as a writer are when I’m working on a book and laughing while I’m writing. Then I know I’ve got something.”


Quote Source: sleepwalking.nu. Image Source and Bio: Amazon and Wiki.


None

writer-writing

No pen,

no ink,

no table,

no room,

no time,

no quiet,

no inclination.

~ James Joyce (1882-1941) in a letter to his brother


Credits: Image – Thank you Sundog; Quote - Lapidarium

I’ll bolt the door

J.D. Salinger - A Boy in France

“I’ll read my books
and I’ll drink coffee
and I’ll listen to music,
and I’ll bolt the door.”

— J.D. Salinger, A Boy in France


The Saturday Evening Post, the nation’s oldest magazine, re-released in its July/August 2010 issue a rare J.D. Salinger short story, “A Boy in France,” first published in the magazine 65 years ago…The Post continues the magazine’s long history of publishing great fiction by re-releasing the story in memory of Salinger, the famously reclusive author of The Catcher in the Rye. Most of his earlier work, including the story in the July/August issue, has never been re-released. “J.D. Salinger’s ‘A Boy in France’ was originally published in The Post in 1945,” said SerVaas. “This evocative tale of a young solider struggling to maintain his sanity during the madness of war.” (Source: PRNewswire)


Credits: Image – Jdsalinger.livejournal.com.  Quote: Journal of Nobody

How much of human life disappears into oblivion like this?

D.G. Myers

“Vladimir Nabokov was wont to fall into a reverie over nail clippings, bitten-off cuticles, tufts of lint plucked off a sleeve, bits of food picked from between the teeth and spat out. After disposing of these tiny scraps of human life, no one thinks of them any more. Since matter is neither created nor destroyed, what becomes of them? They go on existing, but in a realm beyond human concern. Nabokov called them the darlings of oblivion.

After nursing two of my children through week-long stomach viruses and then watching them bounce off to school this morning as if nothing had happened, I’ve been thinking about how much of human life consists of events that are also darlings of oblivion—the stomach cramps, the headaches, the sleepless nights, the full glasses of milk that are knocked over and spilled across the clean kitchen floors, the flat tires, the dead batteries, the traffic jams, the appointments that are late. Entire days can be lost to these events; they can be, at the time, as absorbing as tragedy; then, once they have passed, they are forgotten. How much of human life disappears into oblivion like this?  These darlings almost never find their way into literature. And why is that?…”

~ D.G. Myers (Excerpt from May 9, 2013 post: Darlings of Oblivion)


From D. G. Myers blog: I am a faculty member in the Melton Center for Jewish Studies at the Ohio State University, I am the author of The Elephants Teach (Chicago, 2006) and coeditor (with Paul M. Hedeen) of Unrelenting Readers (Story Line, 2004). Educated in the public schools of Riverside, I earned my degrees from the University of California at Santa Cruz, where I founded the literary magazine Quarry (later Quarry West) with Raymond Carver; Washington University in St. Louis, where I wrote a masters thesis on Stanley Elkin under Stanley Elkin; and Northwestern University, where I held the TriQuarterlyFellowship and studied under Gerald Graff and Joseph Epstein. For twenty years I taught at Texas A&M University. Now I live in Columbus with my wife Naomi and our four children: Dov, Saul, Isaac, and Miriam (“Mimi”).

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...]

Reading…

“Reading was my escape and my comfort, my consolation, my stimulant of choice: reading for the pure pleasure of it, for the beautiful stillness that surrounds you when you hear an author’s words reverberating in your head.”
~ Paul Auster


Sources: Quote – thank you creatingaquietmind.  Image: Artist Natalya Gaida via desvandelecturas.

The best people…

karsh-photo-yousuf.n - ernest hemingway“The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.”

~ Ernest Hemingway

 

 

 

 


Sources: Quote – billieisaguysname via iamabrusselssprout. Image – RT.com

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:

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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.

[Read more...]

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


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

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You are reading my post, and…

 

silently correctly my grammar

 


Adapted from teachingliteracy

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Where do sentences come from?

Sift the debris of a young writer’s education, and you find dreadful things — strictures, prohibitions, dos, don’ts, an unnatural and nearly neurotic obsession with style, argument and transition. Yet in that debris you find no traces of a fundamental question: where do sentences come from? This is a philosophical question, as valuable in the asking as in the answering. But it’s a practical question, too. Think about it long enough, and you begin to realize that many, if not most, of the things we believe about writing are false…”

[Read more...]

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…”

[Read more...]

Stalk the gaps. Spend the Afternoon. You can’t take it with you.

“Thomas Merton wrote, “there is always a temptation to diddle around in the contemplative life, making itsy-bitsy statues.” There is always an enormous temptation in all of life to diddle around making itsy-bitsy friends and meals and journeys for itsy-bitsy years on end. It is so self-conscious, so apparently moral, simply to step aside from the gaps where the creeks and winds pour down, saying, I never merited this grace, quite rightly, and then to sulk along the rest of your days on the edge of rage.

I won’t have it. The world is wilder than that in all directions, more dangerous and bitter, more extravagant and bright. We are making hay when we should be making whoopee; we are raising tomatoes when we should be raising Cain, or Lazarus.

Go up into the gaps. If you can find them; they shift and vanish too. Stalk the gaps. Squeak into a gap in the soil, turn, and unlock – more than a maple – a universe. This is how you spend this afternoon, and tomorrow morning, and tomorrow afternoon. Spend the afternoon. You can’t take it with you.”

–Annie Dillard. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek


With thanks (again) to Crashingly Beautiful for quote via Whiskey River. Image from A Collection of Things.

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There is no world for the penitent and regretful…

Paisatge - Joaquim Mir (Barcelona 1873-1940)


There is a season for everything, and we do not notice a given phenomenon except at that season, if, indeed, it can be called the same phenomenon at any other season. There is a time to watch the ripples on Ripple Lake, to look for arrowheads, to study the rocks and lichens, a time to walk on sandy deserts; and the observer of nature must improve these seasons as much as the farmer his. So boys fly kites and play ball or hawkie at particular times all over the State. A wise man will know what game to play to-day, and play it. We must not be governed by rigid rules, as by the almanac, but let the season rule us. The moods and thoughts of man are revolving just as steadily and incessantly as nature’s. Nothing must be postponed. Take time by the forelock. Now or never! You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this, or the like of this. Where the good husbandman is, there is the good soil. Take any other course, and life will be a succession of regrets. Let us see vessels sailing prosperously before the wind, and not simply stranded barks. There is no world for the penitent and regretful.

    ~ Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862)


Thank you Rob Firchau @ The Hammock Papers for quote.  Thank you madamescherzo for the Joaquim Mir (Barcelona  1873-1940) painting titled Paisatge.

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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I believe that whatever we need is at hand…

canoeing down river in fog“He wanted to drift on the river not so much to see where it went as to be one with it, to go with it as virtually a part of it. He wished perhaps to live out a kind of parable. One cannot drift by intention – or at least, in intending to drift and in drifting, one must accept a severe limitation upon one’s intentions. But in giving oneself to the currents, in thus subordinating one’s intentions, one becomes eligible for unintended goods, unwished – for gifts – and often these goods and gifts surpass those that one has intended or wished for. And so a drifter subscribes necessarily to a kind of faith that is identical both to the absolute trust of migrating birds and to the scripture that bids us to lose our lives in order to find them. Harlan stated it in 1932 with characteristic simplicity:

‘I believe that whatever we need is at hand.’”

~ Wendell Berry


Quote Source: dhammanovice.  Wendell Berry from “Harlan Hubbard – Life and Work” via the beauty we love: He wanted to drift

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(Today) Be soft…

 

be soft


Source: thechaffandthewind via madamescherzo

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10 Most Loved Jobs…(and the 10 most hated)

From the HBR Blog Network: Happiness Will Not Be Downloaded.  I draw the line on a solve being fixing things yourself Smile otherwise a great post.  A few excerpts from the post below along with the charts for the 10 Most Loved Jobs and the 10 Most Hated…

Ten Most Loved Jobs

“…The proliferation of cooking shows, blogs, celebrity chefs…taps into something more primal: it’s one of the last jobs that still does what most of us don’t — make things…In this sterile, white-collar world, where meat comes from ShopRite and homes are built by “guest workers,” cooking is the last physical job many of us can relate to.”

[Read more...]