theparisreview:

Geoff Dyer’s ten rules for writing fiction
1 Never worry about the commercial possibilities of a project. That stuff is for agents and editors to fret over—or not. Conversation with my American publisher. Me: “I’m writing a book so boring, of such limited commercial appeal, that if you publish it, it will probably cost you your job.” Publisher: “That’s exactly what makes me want to stay in my job.”
2 Don’t write in public places. In the early 1990s I went to live in Paris. The usual writerly reasons: back then, if you were caught writing in a pub in England, you could get your head kicked in, whereas in Paris,dans les cafés … Since then I’ve developed an aversion to writing in public. I now think it should be done only in private, like any other lavatorial activity.
3 Don’t be one of those writers who sentence themselves to a lifetime of sucking up to Nabokov.
4 If you use a computer, constantly refine and expand your autocorrect settings. The only reason I stay loyal to my piece-of-shit computer is that I have invested so much ingenuity into building one of the great auto-correct files in literary history. Perfectly formed and spelt words emerge from a few brief keystrokes: “Niet” becomes “Nietzsche,” “phoy” becomes “photography” and so on. Genius!
5 Keep a diary. The biggest regret of my writing life is that I have never kept a journal or a diary.
6 Have regrets. They are fuel. On the page they flare into desire.
7 Have more than one idea on the go at any one time. If it’s a choice between writing a book and doing nothing I will always choose the latter. It’s only if I have an idea for two books that I choose one rather than the other. I always have to feel that I’m bunking off from something.
8 Beware of clichés. Not just the clichés that Martin Amis is at war with. There are clichés of response as well as expression. There are clichés of observation and of thought—even of conception. Many novels, even quite a few adequately written ones, are clichés of form which conform to clichés of expectation.
9 Do it every day. Make a habit of putting your observations into words and gradually this will become instinct. This is the most important rule of all and, naturally, I don’t follow it.
10 Never ride a bike with the brakes on. If something is proving too difficult, give up and do something else. Try to live without resort to per­severance. But writing is all about perseverance. You’ve got to stick at it. In my 30s I used to go to the gym even though I hated it. The purpose of going to the gym was to postpone the day when I would stop going. That’s what writing is to me: a way of postponing the day when I won’t do it any more, the day when I will sink into a depression so profound it will be indistinguishable from perfect bliss.
(via)

theparisreview:

Geoff Dyer’s ten rules for writing fiction

1 Never worry about the commercial possibilities of a project. That stuff is for agents and editors to fret over—or not. Conversation with my American publisher. Me: “I’m writing a book so boring, of such limited commercial appeal, that if you publish it, it will probably cost you your job.” Publisher: “That’s exactly what makes me want to stay in my job.”

Don’t write in public places. In the early 1990s I went to live in Paris. The usual writerly reasons: back then, if you were caught writing in a pub in England, you could get your head kicked in, whereas in Paris,dans les cafés … Since then I’ve developed an aversion to writing in public. I now think it should be done only in private, like any other lavatorial activity.

3 Don’t be one of those writers who sentence themselves to a lifetime of sucking up to Nabokov.

4 If you use a computer, constantly refine and expand your autocorrect settings. The only reason I stay loyal to my piece-of-shit computer is that I have invested so much ingenuity into building one of the great auto-correct files in literary history. Perfectly formed and spelt words emerge from a few brief keystrokes: “Niet” becomes “Nietzsche,” “phoy” becomes “photography” and so on. Genius!

5 Keep a diary. The biggest regret of my writing life is that I have never kept a journal or a diary.

6 Have regrets. They are fuel. On the page they flare into desire.

Have more than one idea on the go at any one time. If it’s a choice between writing a book and doing nothing I will always choose the latter. It’s only if I have an idea for two books that I choose one rather than the other. I always have to feel that I’m bunking off from something.

8 Beware of clichés. Not just the clichés that Martin Amis is at war with. There are clichés of response as well as expression. There are clichés of observation and of thought—even of conception. Many novels, even quite a few adequately written ones, are clichés of form which conform to clichés of expectation.

Do it every day. Make a habit of putting your observations into words and gradually this will become instinct. This is the most important rule of all and, naturally, I don’t follow it.

10 Never ride a bike with the brakes on. If something is proving too difficult, give up and do something else. Try to live without resort to per­severance. But writing is all about perseverance. You’ve got to stick at it. In my 30s I used to go to the gym even though I hated it. The purpose of going to the gym was to postpone the day when I would stop going. That’s what writing is to me: a way of postponing the day when I won’t do it any more, the day when I will sink into a depression so profound it will be indistinguishable from perfect bliss.

(via)

I would like you to stop for a moment an imagine a self-esteem workshop for a group of pre-teen boys.  What types of activities do you think might be planned?  What would the boys do?  Really think about this for a moment before I go on.  What comes to mind when you think of boys and self-esteem building?

ImageNow, I want to tell you about a workshop called “Boys Unstoppable!” The workshop is put together by a company in the personal care industry.  The boys arrive with their dads.  They sit down at tables and find paper and magic markers.

The leader, known as a “Self-esteem Ambassador” first asks the boys to think about their dad and his appearance.  The Ambassador asks each boy to write down anything he has heard his dad say about his looks.  Then the boys create a second column, and they write down how those statements made them feel.

One boy, Tommy, starts to fidget in his chair. Why do they have to think so much about their feelings?  It’s a nice day out. Can’t they go out and do something?

The Ambassador smiles like a salesman or a Ken doll.  He introduces the next exercise.  The boys are asked to think about all of the good things about themselves.  Then the Ambassador hands out “confidence cards.”

The cards say “I have a beautiful________”

The Ambassador tells them to fill out as many cards as they want.

Tommy stares at the cards.  “I have a beautiful face?” he thinks.  Not really, he thinks, but he writes it down anyway.

The exercise is kind of hard.  It’s hard to fit what he is good at into that sentence without it sounding weird.

“I have beautiful math skill.”

Tommy thinks about last week when he won the 100 yard dash.  He was proud of that.  “I have beautiful running skill” is awkward. So he writes “I have beautiful feet.”

That’s not right.  He gives up and looks out the window.

“What’s wrong?” asks the Ambassador with a kind of cheery sympathy.

“I can’t think of anything,” Tommy says.

The Ambassador tilts his head. Tommy can tell he is thinking that the boy is a real hard case.  He must have no confidence at all.  It’s worse than he thought.

(Read the full article on my blog by following the link)

thedailyballet:

Maria Alexandrova and Vladislav Lantratov in Don Quixote.
Photo (c) Irina Lepnyova.

thedailyballet:

Maria Alexandrova and Vladislav Lantratov in Don Quixote.

Photo (c) Irina Lepnyova.

Let’s say I do go to a “right-to-carry” church. The reason that I’m not going to tense up if Deacon Billy’s pistol falls out of his pocket while he’s passing the offering plate is because good people like Deacon Billy don’t shoot people; bad people do.

If I carry a gun into church, I am embodying a two-fold doctrine of sin: 1) There is no danger that I would be tempted to sin with my gun (like in the heat of an argument over the church budget or a sermon that sounds un-Biblical). 2) There is enough danger from the wickedness “out there” that I should be armed in case the bad people storm our building and start shooting. This two-fold doctrine of sin could be termed the total depravity of everyone else.

"Most fundamentally, I used to write because I received positive feedback. To a guy who was picked on pretty relentlessly through a lot of his childhood, the respect and affection of students and teachers is addictive. It was a couple years after grad school that I realized that a need for affirmation wasn’t a good enough reason to keep writing, especially in the face of rejection after rejection after even personal rejection, and that if I was going to do it, I had to acknowledge that it was going to take my whole life. The decision to do it until I’m dead has made the writing and the writing life so much easier."

— Donald Dunbar, in the Poetry Foundation blog

Tags: writing

I have been reading a lot of biographies lately, mostly of Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas.  They have left me wondering if “that which is the man” can ever be captured in a biography.

In life you never experience a person the way you do in a biography.  You never get an overview of a whole life– the same person in his context as a worker, a family man, a lover, a friend, a debtor, in all of his moods: when he is up, when he is down.  You have impressions of people.  You know parts of them.  A biographer tries to harmonize all of the impressions he or she can collect from people who caught these glimpses, who knew the person in part.

Who has the truth? Is the opinion of a person who dislikes you, colored by the memory of a bad experience less “true” than the memory of the person who was delighted by you? Is the truth the middle ground of these two poles or are you actually both things at the same time– a thoughtless person and a thoughtful person, depending on the context?

(Read the full article via the link)

"There is absolutely no evidence that low self-esteem in particularly harmful. It’s not at all a cause of poor academic performance. People with low self-esteem seem to do just as well in life as people with high self-esteem. In fact, they may do better, because they often try harder."

— Nicholas Emler, social researcher at the London School of Economics, New York Times Magazine, February 3, 2002

timeshaiku:

A haiku from the article: ‘The Birds of Bethlehem’ and ‘Our Very Own Christmas’
timeshaiku:

A haiku from the article: Waiting for Catastrophes: Aleksandar Hemon Talks About ‘The Book of My Lives’
"As every writer knows… there is something mysterious about the writer’s ability, on any given day, to write. When the juices are flowing, or the writer is ‘hot’, an invisible wall seems to fall away, and the writer moves easily and surely from one kind of reality to another… Every writer has experienced at least moments of this strange, magical state. Reading student fiction one can spot at once where the power turns on and where it turns off, where the writer writes from ‘inspiration’ or deep, flowing vision, and where he had to struggle along on mere intellect."

— John Gardner; On Becoming a Novelist (via wordpainting)