Thursday, September 23, 2021

Are Writers Narcissistic or Altruistic?

Mary Karr, the award-winning poet and New York Times best-selling memoirist, reportedly opined:

All writers are narcissistic [...] No one can sit in a room by themselves for 12 hours a day thinking about what they're thinking and not be a little more self-focused than the normal person. You're definitely on the far end of the [racist] bell curve. 

And per Poetry School, Sylvia Plath said: 

I think writers are the most narcissistic people. 

But Dictionary.com defines narcissism [ nahr-suh-siz-em ] as an: "inordinate fascination with oneself; excessive self-love; vanity."

And this is how the Mayo Clinic defines narcissistic personality disorder:

Narcissistic personality disorder [...] is a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. 

Thus, I would disagree with Karr's and Plath's assessment that (most) writers are narcissistic. I don't think that (most) writers possess "excessive self-love" and have "a deep need for excessive attention". 

On the contrary, I would opine that (most) writers are altruist, because they "sit in a room by themselves for 12 hours a day", because they desperately want to share their art (with the world). 

Saturday, September 11, 2021

"American Horror Story: Double Feature": Write Under the Influence


On American Horror Story: Double Feature (s10e04), Belle Noir is on a self-financed book tour for her self-published romance novel, Martha’s Cherry Tree, which is a "[...] racy retelling of the
George and Martha Washington story." 

In chapter 17, Martha discovers that George has been in one of the maid's bed, "little innocent" Penelope, but instead of confronting George, Martha seduces the maid by: "[...] kissing her hairy warmth between the young maid's legs."

(Maid [ \ ˈmād \ ] noun : an unmarried girl or woman especially when young : VIRGIN. [Merriam-Webster])

Although, Noir was informed, "You're a good writer," there were (only) four bookworms at the reading, and Noir (only) sold one book. Consequently, she took a pill that would super enhance the quality and speed of her writing; thus, Noir wrote a 400 plus page novel in one night, but the pill had horrible side-effects. 

If a writer doesn't want to end up like Noir or, say F. Scott Fitzgerald, we advise writers to, like Voltaire, write of the influence of coffee but, unlike Balzac, not too much. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

BIG BROTHER (2021): An Case of Joy [Versus Misery]

In the above GIF from Big Brother (2021), Derek F., Azah, Tiffany, and Hannah  are experiencing extreme joy; so much so, that their bodies, literally, couldn't bear the weight of the emotion. 

Derek F. braces himself on the designer sink. Azah and Tiffany drop to their knees. And Hannah looks quickly for a place to sit before plopping onto the bed. 

But interestingly, the body can react to joy and misery in similar ways. It's not uncommon to see people react to, say, the news of a deceased loved one by plopping, bracing and/or dropping to their knees. The main difference is that misery is often coupled with crying while joy and laughter are often couples. 

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Write to Escape Boredom\Depression

It has been reported that Michael Crichton, the famous author of works like Jurassic Park, advised: 

“Working inspires inspiration. Keep working. If you succeed, keep working. If you fail, keep working. If you are interested, keep working. If you are bored, keep working.”

And I would add that being bored can lead to being depressed, but like Crichton (indirectly) advised, a key to avoiding depression is to work slash write. 

It may be counterintuitive, but if you don't feel like writing, force yourself to write, because creating will often propel one out of boredom and depression into inspiration. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Fake Pandemic Introvert vs. Real Introvert



Dahlia Gallin Ramirez's "Fake Pandemic Introvert vs. Real Introvert" New Yorker piece (July 21, 2021) shed light on the rise of fake (pandemic) introverts. 

In one of Ramirez's examples, a fake introvert shared: "Going to read all the works of Tolstoy."

The post was a "dead giveaway", because real introverts typically don't overshare on social media. 

In the case of the introvert, the potential social media post would have been considered bragging as Tolstoy's oeuvre would have already been read - in Russian. And instead of posting, the real introvert, a polyglot, would have been busy translating Tolstoy's The Cossacks into Aramaic.

Last, we'll re-share a Martin Amis quote: "The first thing that distinguishes a writer is that he is most alive when he is alone." (The Paris Review "The Art of Fiction No. 151)

Monday, July 26, 2021

The Writer's TO DO List

 

Cartoon by Will McPhail


Of course, we would advise one to complete this (writer's) To Do list in the opposite order. 


Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Summertime Writing for Teacher\Professors

Image Source: Sandy Cangelosi

One of the best times to write for teachers slash professors is during summer vacation but like Will Self, the English author, I would advise educators to do a substantial brain dump (e.g., ≈ 200 pages) before doing any editing. 

Self advised in The Guardian's "Ten Rules for Writing Fiction" (Fri 19 Feb 2010):

“Don't look back until you've written an entire draft, just begin each [summer] day from the last sentence you wrote the preceding day. This prevents those cringing feelings, and means that you have a substantial body of work before you get down to the real work which is all in ... the edit [in the fall]."

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Alex Hay's PAPER BAG | Art in Life

Paper Bag, 1968 | fiberglass, epoxy, paint, and paper

We went to the Alex Hay's Past Work and Cats, 1963-2020 exhibit at the Peter Freeman, Inc gallery in Soho, and Hay's enthralling fiberglass Paper Bags reminded me of our previous post where we shared that Sylvia Plath reportedly related:

Everything in life is writable about [i.e., art] if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. 

Monday, June 7, 2021

A Cure for Writer's Block: Plunging the Past

Getty\USA Today

Reportedly, Ralph Ellison said:

The act of writing requires a constant plunging back into the shadow of the past where time hovers ghostlike.

And Ellison's quote reminded me of a previous post, where I shared that Sylvia Plath reportedly related:
Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. 

Hence, one should never suffer from writer's block, unless one suffers from amnesia or, God forbid, dementia. 

Saturday, May 29, 2021

The Writer's Guilt

In a Life magazine piece (May 24, 1963), James Baldwin shared with Jane Howard:

[...] if you’re an artist, you’re guilty of a crime: not that you’re aware, which is bad enough, but that you see things other people don’t admit are there.

This Baldwin quote reminded of a conversation I had with a colleague about The Allure of Nymphets, which is the book I was writing at the time about nympholepsy in pop culture. 

I shared with my colleague that I was writing about an episode of HBO's and Jonathan Ames' Bored to Death where, in a effort to seduce a writer, Jonathan (Jason Schwartzman), a Saint Ann's High School student pretended to be a NYU student.  

After fleeing the half-nude nymphet and her distraught father through a bathroom window, Jonathan realized that he left the copy of a movie script behind. 


When Jonathan went to his best friend Ray (Zach Galifianakis) for advice on how to get the script back, Ray advised Jonathan to simply call the dad and ask for the script, which was reasonable advice, but Jason reminded Ray:
"She’s only 16-years-old!"
"You didn’t sodomize her did you?" Ray asked.
"No.” Jonathan responded.
"That’s too bad." Ray said despondently.
When I shared with my colleague, who was a fan of the show, that I was shocked by Ray's question and response, she said that she didn't remember that scene. 

I suspected that she was lying, and Baldwin's quote raises my suspicion.