Wednesday, January 20, 2021

The Writer's Notebook

John Irving, the author of The Cider House Rules, reportedly said:
It doesn't really matter who said it, it's so obviously true: Before you can write anything, you have to notice something.
And it's advised to write down what you have noticed. 

Horne, Theroux, Boyt and Chaudhuri posted on The Guardian ‘Messy attics of the mind’: what’s inside a writer’s notebook?" (6 April 2018). In the post, they related the following about Henry James:
Jotting things down in a notebook is one way writers shape and discipline the unpredictable flow of ideas. For Henry James, in 1881, just after publishing The Portrait of a Lady, it was already a matter of regret that he had “lost too much by losing, or rather by not having acquired, the note-taking habit”. But he would make up for it over the next 30 years by filling innumerable pages with his records of story ideas, anecdotes from dinner parties and newspapers, things noticed on his travels. He developed personal rituals around the process of expressing his thoughts, through the pressure of pen on paper.
Thus, keep a cahier handy to jot down fiction that you may (creatively) turn into non-fiction. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

"Bob with Books"


Source: Nancy Holt Bob with Books: Roof of 799 Greenwich St., New York, 1971

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Sleep Less | Write More

Mary Oliver, winner of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, reportedly advised:
If anybody has a job and starts at 9, there's no reason why they can't get up at 4:30 or five and write for a couple of hours, and give their employers their second-best effort of the day—which is what I did.

However, if you're like me, a night owl, I would recommend, after a twenty minute power nap, staying up a couple of hours after one's bedtime to write. 

Like Mary Oliver alluded to, it's difficult to find time to write if you work and sleep for a a combined 16 hours per day. 


Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Monday, November 30, 2020

To Outline or Not to Outline?

John Grishman reportedly advised: "Don’t write the first scene until you know the last. This necessitates the use of a dreaded device commonly called an outline. Virtually all writers hate that word. I have yet to meet one who admits to using an outline."

But the pulp fiction writer Elmore Leonard is said to have shared: "At the time I begin writing a novel, the last thing I want to do is follow a plot outline. To know too much at the start takes the pleasure out of discovering what the book is about."

Thus, the question remains: "To outline or not to outline?" And the answer is: "Try both ways and use the method that works the best - for you as a writer."

Wednesday, November 18, 2020


Teens Love and Want to F*ck James Franco: A Study of a Life and Works is a study of the raunchy comments left by teens and young women on James Franco’s since deleted Instagram account, a look at the popularity of “the daddy thing” in popular culture, and an analysis of nympholepsy (i.e., a passion aroused in men [i.e., nympholepts] by beautiful young girls) and the sexual nature of teens in James Franco’s oeuvre.

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)