Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Read (A Lot) to Learn How to Write


A number of writers advise that the best way to learn how to write is to read. For example, Lisa See advised, "Read a thousand books, and your words will flow like a river." 

Phillip Lopate responded to the question, "What's your advice to new writers?" with "My advice is to read a ton and don't be afraid of being influenced." And Jenny Wingfield responded to the same question with, "Read. Write. Read. Write."

Thus, you may want to "Read. Write. Read. Write." and avoid Writers' Workshops


Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Are Descriptions of Sceneries and Characters Necessary?

Per @AdviceToWriters, Anthony Trollope, the English novelist, implied that descriptions of scenery aren't necessary. 

Trollope related: "I doubt whether I ever read any description of scenery which gave me an idea of the place described."

And Lily Tuck, the winner of the 2004 National Book Award for Fiction, shared: "I rarely describe what my characters look like or what they wear or how they do their hair [...]"

Admittedly, I agree with Trollope and Tuck. Descriptions of scenery and characters don't enhance my reading pleasure. Although, I'll Google an unknown tree, item of clothing or piece of furniture, in the end, those descriptions don't enhance my reading. However, I do enjoy descriptions of food. Take, for example, this scene from Nabokov's Transparent Things:

The chocolate proved unpalatable. You were served a cup of hot milk. You also got, separately, a little sugar and a dainty-looking envelope of sorts. You ripped open the upper margin of the envelope. You added the beige dust it contained to the ruthlessly homogenized milk in your cup. You took a sip---and hurried to add sugar. But no sugar could improve the insipid, sad, dishonest taste. 

While I did include descriptions of sceneries and characters in my novels, was it really necessary? 


Saturday, September 19, 2020

The Met's "Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara and Lattice Detour"

Like Harry Lesser, we're museumgoers; so, when The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) re-opened recently, we (mistakenly) took the downtown D to the eastbound M86 to see Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara and Lattice Detour.

Pectoral (The Rao Pectoral) and Five Gold Beads (12th-13th century)
Megalith (8th-9th century)

Per The Met's website: 

Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara is the first exhibition of its kind to trace the legacy of those mighty states [i.e., Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger] and what they produced in the visual arts.

Reclining Figure (12th-14th century)

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Can Flowers Help You Become a Better Writer?

It turns out that having having houseplants or flowers may increase your concentration (i.e., make you a better writer). 

Per Scientific American: In a study to be published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, researchers show that the mere presence of plants in an office setting boosts one’s ability to maintain attention.

And Bio Advanced posted: A study at The Royal College of Agriculture in Circencester, England, found that students demonstrate 70% greater attentiveness when they're taught in rooms containing plants.

However, unlike Nabokov, we suck at identifying flowers; so, we did a post on Reddit's r/whatsthisplant and discovered that, from left to right, we have a vase from Trader Joe's of dianthus', statices and baby's breaths. 

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Public Art: Sam Falls' UNTITLED (FOUR ARCHES) | High Line

Sam Falls' Untitled (Four Arches) | High Line
[Photo: @afemeinnyc)]

Due to you know what, the High Line is reservations only. Thus, I got an Eventbrite ticket for today at noon to see Sam Falls' Untitled (Four Arches), which is part of the High Lines' En Plein Air group exhibition that "examines and expands the tradition of outdoor painting."

Sam Falls' Untitled (Four Arches) | Embedded (High Line) Plants in Ceramic
[Photo: @matteetglossy]

Here's a description of the pieces from the High Line:

"For the High Line, Falls creates four ceramic archways supported by the steel rail tracks from the High Line’s original railway; each archway is dedicated to a different season in the park. For one year, Falls collected plants from the High Line, embedded them in ceramic, and fossilized them with colorful pigments." Nice.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

THE APE (2005): Writer's Block

The Ape (2005): Writer's Block

Initially, Harry Walker (James Franco) didn't follow Sylvia Plath's advice, which is: "Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and [use] the imagination to improvise."

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Putting "Low" Amazon Books Sales into Perspective

Photo credit: Markinblog

Like Roxie and Velma, I have three best friends and one of them has written seven books, he has published four, but he has sold approximately a thousand, which compared to, say, Nabokov that may not seem like a lot; however, when put into certain perspectives, a thousand books sold can be impressive. 

For example, imagine that Amazon is a brick and mortar bookstore. Now imagine getting an email from Amazon and a bookseller informing you, "[insert author's name]. Good news. We've sold one-thousand copies of your book(s)!"

I would imagine that most authors would be pleased with that email. 

That email is no different from my friend getting his historical sales report from his (very small) publisher informing him that he has sold (close to) a thousand books. 

Even an email to inform an author that he or she has sold ten books is good news. 
"[insert author's name]. Good news. We've sold ten copies of your book(s)!"

I've posted before that another way to put book sales into perspective is to consider each book a work of art. Most artists (i.e., writers) would be overjoyed to sell one thousand pieces of art - or even ten for that matter. 


Wednesday, July 1, 2020

"Chronicle of a Summer" (1961) [French: "Chronique d'un été"] French Bohemians

Chronicle of a Summer (1961) [French: Chronique d'un été], a cinéma vérité film, features some French bohemians who shared some highlights from their lifestyles:

"Hard work is really a waste of time. Especially, just to earn money."
"Painting's the way I learn. I love it."
"We stayed in bed most mornings reading. In the afternoons we painted."
"We rented a studio in an old house in the Camargue [...] I painted names on boats. Anything. We lived well on two hours of work a day."
"We lay about in the sun [and] did some painting."
"We haven't much money [...] [but] books [...] we do."
"When we sell a painting, we buy something to make life richer (e.g., more books)"