Running. Some Rain Must Fall.

powder-blue-head-explode

“Fragment Palooza.”
“Repetition” in words and in theme. “Tiresome.”
“Lacks flow and rhythm.”
“Lacking depth.” (This one cut.)
“Can’t produce more than 500 words?”
“Have you thought of a creative writing class?”

I’m two miles into my morning run. The unsolicited feedback is swamping Audible’s narration of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle: Book 5: Some Rain Must Fall. And chirping in, is Brian Blanchfield’s new book of essays written without the internet and any reference sources.

I twist the earbuds deeper into each drum, turn up the volume and hope to drown the sh*t out.

The words from Book 5 continue to pump. Knausgaard’s autobiographic detail and flow is hypnotic. There are five published books in his series, with each averaging more than 500 pages. He goes back more than 40 years and walks us forward stone, by stone, by stone. (There you go again, with the repetition.) [Read more…]

Permitting shame, error and guilt…

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Brian Blanchfield, 43, was born in Winston-Salem, NC and now resides in Tucson, AZ where he teaches at the University of Arizona. He is an award winning poet and recently published his second book of essays.  The essays from his new book “Proxies: Essays Near Knowing were written from memory, no referring to the internet or other “authoritative” sources. To give you a taste of his talent and his authenticity, here’s an excerpt from his opening “Note”. I shake my head in awe…

At the end of this book there is a rolling endnote called “Correction.” It sets right much— almost certainly not all— of what between here and there I get wrong. It runs to twenty-one pages. It may still be running. Susceptibility to error is a hazard inherent to Proxies. From the beginning…I decided on a total suppression of recourse to other authoritative sources. I wrote these essays with the internet off. I determined not to review again the books and other works I consulted in memory, and I did not stop thinking through the subject at hand to verify assertions or ground speculation or firm up approximations. Que sais-je?, Montaigne asked his library shelves one day late in the sixteenth century, and increasingly that seems a good start. Having determined that this would be unresearched essaying, analytic but nonacademic, I was almost immediately drawn to a second constraint— or, better, invitation: to stay with the subject until it gives onto an area of personal uneasiness, a site of vulnerability, and keep unpacking from there. The formula I found for titling the individual essays was generated very early on, to operate this request of self. Clumsy as it may be, I claim as part of a personal sortilege a devotion to the words I had bannered across the top of each new developing piece, an invocation of sorts, a ritual.

Permitting shame, error and guilt…

~ Brian Blanchfield, excerpt from his opening “Note” from Proxies, Essays Near Knowing (June, 2016)


Note: Find “Proxies” Book Reviews here – Goodreads.  Portrait from Poetry Foundation.

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

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My goal has not been reached; but I am practicing. I don’t yet know when I shall succeed in learning not to write; the obsession, the obligation are half a century old. My right little finger is slightly bent; that is because the weight of my hand always rested on it as I wrote, like a kangaroo leaning back on its tail. There is a tired spirit deep inside of me that still continues its gourmet’s quest for a better word, and then for a better one still.

~ Gabrielle Colette (1873-1954), shortly before her death at the age of 81 from “Earthly Paradise: An Autobiography of Colette Drawn from Her Lifetime Writings”


Notes: Quotes: Brain Pickings. Portrait: ecritsdefemmes.fr

The Blogging Team: You, me, us…

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Blogging is not only a new technology of writing; it’s also a new way of reading. In Christian antiquity, reading was a social activity, not a wholly private one. The earliest recorded incident of silent reading is found in Augustine’s Confessions. Augustine relates with astonishment Ambrose’s habit of reading in silence, a practice he had never seen before: “When he read, his eyes scanned the page and his heart sought out the meaning, but his voice was silent and his tongue was still.”…

In the world of Web 2.0, the ideal of the solitary reader is waning fast. Blogging is a kind of reading-together. It is the formation of a new kind of community of reading. No longer is reading an activity reserved for the private study, that carefully crafted space where thought is cultivated under conditions of silence, leisure, economic privilege. To read a blog is to participate in a collective reading process: on any given day, we all read the same post, the same thread of comments and responses. Such reading is far removed from solitude: the reading is understood primarily as a stimulus to conversation, criticism, discussion. Here, reading is not so much an end in itself as the means to a particular form of community. The very act of reading thus becomes a collective project…

~ Ben Myers, Blogging as a Technology of the Self


Notes:

 

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

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Too often, convinced of our own intelligence, we stay in a comfort zone that ensures that we never feel stupid (and are never challenged to learn or reconsider what we know). It obscures from view various weaknesses in our understanding, until eventually it’s too late to change course. This is where the silent toll is taken.

Each of us faces a threat as we pursue our craft. Like sirens on the rocks, ego sings a soothing, validating song— which can lead to a wreck. The second we let the ego tell us we have graduated, learning grinds to a halt. That’s why Frank Shamrock said, “Always stay a student.” As in, it never ends.

~ Ryan Holiday, excerpt from his new book “Ego is the Enemy” published June, 2016.


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Blogger’s Creed

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I’ve never met Patricia Salamone and not sure how she found me.  She left a comment on a post and it stuck.


“I married, raised 3 children, worked for many years and wrote in my spare time. Don’t ask me how I ever had spare time but it was mostly in the wee hours of the morning. I sent a few stories to magazines but they always got rejected. I continued to write but never sent anything in again. I wrote because I loved it. Then I retired, my children all finished University, got married and started families. I had plenty of time on my hands and a computer so I wrote, and I still write.

Although my writing is raw and I have not been schooled in writing, I did have a book published: The Italian Thing. It was not edited and it was my first try. It is a humorous memoir about a trip to Naro, Sicily and meeting our family members that live there, for the first time. We have many adventures and misadventures but in the end we had a marvelous and unforgettable trip.

…I write because I love it, and that’s good enough for me. I will probably will never make much money at it, but a few things were published and my words are out there forever even when I’m gone. I’m happy.  :o)”


Thank you Patricia. For the inspiration.

Patricia’s a WordPress blogger at this handle: The Writers Desk.

Writer’s Block


For a complete list of the 53 films used: Writer’s Block – A supercut. (Thank you Steve)

Journaling yesterday. Blogging (in the “receptacle”) today. We are all in the same boat.

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Growing old is certainly far easier for people like me who have no job from which to retire at a given age. I can’t stop doing what I have always done, trying to sort out and shape experience. The journal is a good way to do this at a less intense level than by creating a work of art as highly organized as a poem, for instance, or the sustained effort a novel requires. I find it wonderful to have a receptacle into which to pour vivid momentary insights, and a way of ordering day-to-day experience (as opposed to Maslow’s “peak experiences,” which would require poetry). If there is an art to the keeping of a journal intended for publication yet at the same time a very personal record, it may be in what E. Bowen said: “One must regard oneself impersonally as an instrument.”

~ May Sarton, The House by the Sea (1977)

(Robert) Coles himself says elsewhere in the piece, “Not everyone can or will do that— give his specific fears and desires a chance to be of universal significance.” To do this takes a curious combination of humility, excruciating honesty, and (there’s the rub) a sense of destiny or of identity. One must believe that private dilemmas are, if deeply examined, universal, and so, if expressed, have a human value beyond the private, and one must also believe in the vehicle for expressing them, in the talent.

[…]

But I believe we learn through the experiences of others as well as through our own, constantly meditating upon them, drawing the sustenance of human truth from them, and it seems natural to me to wish to share these aperçus, these questions, these oddities, these dilemmas and pangs. Why? Partly, I suppose, because the more one is a receptacle of human destinies, as I have become through my readers, the more one realizes how very few people could be called happy, how complex and demanding every deep human relationship is, how much real pain, anger, and despair are concealed by most people. And this is because many feel their own suffering is unique. It is comforting to know that we are all in the same boat.

~ May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude (1973)


Notes:

2015: Top 15 Blogger Tools.

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It’s that time again for year end awards for blogging and productivity tools:

  1. Best App in Supporting Role: Evernote (for clipping, storing and syncing across devices. My new e-junk drawer.)
  2. Best News / Site Content Aggregator: Feedly. (Indispensable. Every day)
  3. Best Search Engine: Google.  (Bing is too busy. Yahoo? Wow, time for a make-over.)
  4. Best Browser: Safari for Mac/IOS – for its Reader View, for Reading List, for full article emailing and for syncing across devices. Google Chrome can be faster – has much better tabbing framework – but is a battery hog and is missing Reading list integration and full article emailing/storage.
  5. Best Writing Aid: Microsoft OneNote.  Clean interface. Slick syncing across devices. Intuitive. Easy on-the-go writing app on the desktop and the smartphone.
  6. Best Utility Apps: 1password (for passwords), TextExpander (for shortcuts) and Snagit (for photo clipping)
  7. Best Reader App on PC/Phone: Reading List (for Mac/IOS) has replaced Pocket and Instapaper, both excellent apps.
  8. Best e-reader / best reading app: Kindle.
  9. Best Notes App: Google Keep. (Simple. Intuitive. Great syncing across devices.)
  10. Best Photos App: Google Photos.  (Wow! Free. Clean interface. Exceptional syncing across devices.  Cool image identification. You have to try it. Read The Mossberg Review for more.)
  11. Cloud Storage / Back-up: Dropbox is more universal and easier but I’m on iCloud for Apple device integration.
  12. Surprise app of the Year: Apple Music.  A bargain for the family under the monthly subscription.  Downside: Complex! Holy moly!
  13. Favorite Social Media (excluding #1 WordPress): Tumblr.
  14. Biggest Disappointment: WordPress.com for its new update in posting functionality.  There is so much to love about WordPress including the new notifications and response tools but I find the new posting interface to be a step backwards.  (What was wrong with the old format?)
  15. Biggest YOY change: Fewer (many) apps. I’m further embedded into Apple’s ecosystem. While it can be more expensive (especially for Apple crack addicts like me), it’s simpler, easier, more stable and offers better integration.

Am I missing any apps / tools that you find are indispensable?


Notes:

 

Is this good enough?

Ryan-Holiday

[…] Think about what you put on Instagram, on Twitter, on a blog, on Facebook. These are great media but it’s clear they select for a very specific type of content. It’s got to be bite sized. It’s got to look good. It has to be spreadable. It has to compete with all the other content out there from professionals, from pretty girls, from snarky a**holes. Oh, and it has to generate a certain number of public responses or you look like a loser. In a sense, these tools that were intended to help us share our realities ironically has turned into a sort of unpaid performance art. I know that you sense this too. That moment of hesitation before you post something.

Is this good enough?  […]

~ Ryan Holiday

Don’t miss Ryan Holiday’s entire post and the punch line at: The Performance Bias: Life is Not a Movie, Life is Not a Novel


Notes:

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