A Spark of Madness
“You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” – Robin Williams
A Professional Writer – July 18, 2021
“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” – Richard Bach
Immortality: Thomas Wolfe & F. Scott Fitzgerald – July 7, 2021
Quotes from “Genius” With Colin Firth, Jude Law & Nicole Kidman.
Thomas Wolfe: “I’m mighty glad to see you, Scott. I’m rambling around for months now. Haven’t had anyone to talk to about work. I mean, who better to talk to, the man who created something immortal. More and more I trouble myself with that, the legacy. Will anyone care about Thomas Wolfe in 100 years? 10 years?”
F. Scott Fitzgerald: “When I was young I asked myself that question everyday. Now I ask myself, ‘Can I write one good sentence?’”
“Am I the Only One” – Song/Lyrics by Aaron Lewis – July 4, 2021
“Am I the only one here tonight, shakin’ my head and think’ something ain’t right. Is it just me, am I losing my mind, am I standing on the edge at the end of time?…This ain’t the freedom we’ve been fightin’ for. It was somethin’ more, yeah, it was somethin’ more…Am I the only one who quits singin’ along, everytime they play a Springsteen song.” – YouTube
Writing Anonymously – June 20, 2021
“Some 23 years ago, I wrote an anonymous novel called “Primary Colors,” which was inspired by Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign. I was working for Newsweek at the time, and my editor, Maynard Parker, read the book in advance.‘Joe, this is lots of fun, he told me. ‘But you know books like this don’t sell.’
“He was wrong; the book sold about 1 million copies…I’d like to believe it was all about literary merit. But anonymity gave “Primary Colors” a mystical power I hadn’t imagined.I’d held back my name partly as a goof, an homage to pseudonymous 19th-century serial novels. Benjamin Disraeli and Henry Adams, among others, had employed the conceit; “Sense and Sensibility” was written by “A Lady.” To my amazement, members of Clinton’s team began accusing one another of having written it.” – Joe Klein is the author of seven books.
Book Won an Award for Being Unnoticed – June 13, 2021
“Writing is tough. My book went so unnoticed I won an award for it. How do you cope with knowing that the project you poured years of your life into is not quite setting the world on fire?…The saddest thing about a book failing to reach an audience is not the wound to the ego, but the end of the conversation.
“Responses ranged from, “Wait, is that a joke?” to my mother’s hushed silence, followed by, “I’m so sorry, darling.” Witty quips followed like, “better than being overrated” or “don’t underrate being underrated”. Then the mental cogs would slowly turn and they would say, “hey, that’s actually a good thing! And it is indeed a good thing. Because, jokes aside, this award is saying that my novel is worthy of more attention than it received. And that’s not embarrassing at all. In fact, it is one of the most heartening and galvanising things that a writer can hear.” – Ilka Tampke, author of Songwoman, as published on TheGuardian.com.
Bob Dylan on Receiving the Noble Prize in Literature, 2016 – June 6, 2021
“The words in Shakespeare’s plays were meant to be acted on the stage. Just as lyrics in songs are meant to be sung, not read on a page. And I hope some of you get the chance to listen to these lyrics the way they were intended to be heard: in concert, or on record, or however people are listening to songs these days. I return once again to Homer, who says ‘Sing in me, oh Muse, and through me tell the story’.” – Bob Dylan, 2016
Denzel Washington on Falling Forward – May 30, 2021
“I find that nothing in life is worth unless you take risks. If I’m going to fall, I don’t want to fall backward on anything but my faith.
I want to fall forward.” – Denzel Washington, 2020
Post WW1, Irish Poet W.B. Yeats predicts 2021
“Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.” – “The Second Coming” by W.B. Yeats, 1865-1939
Joel Meyerowitz on His Chance Discovery of the Power of Color Film – May 16, 2021
“When I began, in all my innocence, the first roll of film I ever put in a camera was a color film, because it seemed to me the world was in color and you’d take pictures of the world as it looked..I didn’t understand at that point that black-and-white was considered high art and color was considered amateurish, commercial and journalistic. There was a real built-in prejudice and my generation had to fight that fight.”
– A selection of Meyerowitz’s groundbreaking photographs is featured in a retrospective titled “Why Color?” at Berlin’s C/O Foundation, 2021
John Steinbeck on Wordlessness – May 8, 2021
“The craft or art of writing is the clumsy attempt to find symbols for the wordlessness.” – John Steinbeck
T.S. Elliot on Writing – May 1, 2021
“In ‘The Waste Land,’ I wasn’t even bothering whether I understood what I was saying,” – T.S. Eliot
Betty White on Working at 99 & Staying Young – April 25, 2021
“”First of all, keep busy. Don’t focus everything on you, that wears out pretty fast. It’s not hard to find things you’re interested in, but enjoy them and indulge them, and I think that can keep you on your toes.” – Betty White in a 2017 interview with Katie Couric
All Wars are Fought Twice (Aka – Final Troop Withdrawal from Afghanistan)
“All wars are fought twice: on the battlefield and in our memory.” – Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of “The Sympathizer” and “Nothing Ever Dies”
This country is Run on Epidemics
“This country is run on epidemics, where you been? Price fixing, crooked TV shows, inflated expense accounts. How many honest men you know? Why you separate the saints from the sinners, you’re lucky to end up with Abraham Lincoln…“Nobody gets out of life alive.” – Hud Bannon, from Martin Ritt’s classic 1963 film “Hud” – based on Larry McMurtry’s novel
“A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on his shoes.” – Mark Twain
A Writer’s First Book
“A first book has some of the sweetness of a first love.” – Robert Aris Willmott
Voice from the American Plains a Century Ago
“Minari” swept top prizes at Sundance in 2020, earning rave reviews from immigrants and non-immigrants alike. An Arkansas Times journalist recently called it “the most authentic coming-of-age story I’ve seen reflected on screen about our part of the world.” Script writer Lee Isaac Chung credited Pulitzer-winning novelist Willa Cather — who chronicled life on the American Plains more than a century ago — for inspiring him to tell it. About her books O Pioneers! and My Antonia, Cather once said she had written stories inspired by her own upbringing after years of imitating cosmopolitan authors in New York. “She wrote that her work really took off when she stopped admiring and she started remembering,” Chung told CNN. “And that’s what got me to sit down finally and just write out my memories. And that became the kernel of a film.”
Willa Sibert Cather was an American writer known for her novels of life on the Great Plains, including O Pioneers!, The Song of the Lark, and My Ántonia. In 1923 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for One of Ours, a novel set during World War I.
March 14, 2021 – The Hidden Life of Trees
“But the most astonishing thing about trees is how social they are. The trees in a forest care for each other, sometimes even going so far as to nourish the stump of a felled tree for centuries after it was cut down by feeding it sugars and other nutrients, and so keeping it alive. Only some stumps are thus nourished. Perhaps they are the parents of the trees that make up the forest of today. A tree’s most important means of staying connected to other trees is a “wood wide web” of soil fungi that connects vegetation in an intimate network that allows the sharing of an enormous amount of information and goods. Scientific research aimed at understanding the astonishing abilities of this partnership between fungi and plant has only just begun.” – Peter Wohlleben, author, The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate―Discoveries from A Secret World
March 7, 2021 – Drained Pool Politics
“If you want to know why the US has one of the most inefficient health care systems among advanced nations, some of the worst infrastructure and a dysfunctional political system, blame drained-pool politics. The narrative that White people should see the well-being of people of color as a threat to their own is one of the most powerful subterranean stories in America. Until we destroy the idea, opponents of progress can always unearth it, and use it to block any collective action that benefits us all.
“The exact counter to that is in Texas, a state cut off from the federal government to avoid being regulated, to avoid the kinds of safeguards that would have stopped the power outages, a state government that was totally absent from prevention to mitigation and taking care of its people. That was a very clear example of drained pool politics, of anti-government sentiment being put into policies that hurt everyone. It cost lives.” – Heather McGhee, author, The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together
February 28, 2021 – Antidote to Throwaway Culture
”The only antidote to throwaway culture is to keep. So I am an obsessive keeper … Your first habit should be turning your clothes inside out and reading the label .. polyester sheds millions of microfibres … It has been found in the bottom of the ocean and the top of Everest. Every time you wash a piece of polyester, about 500,000 microfibres are released. So, how do you buy polyester? You buy something that doesn’t need to be frequently washed. You don’t buy polyester underpants; you buy a polyester overcoat that you can learn how to sponge-clean.”
– Loved Clothes Last by Orsola de Castro
February 21, 2021 – It’s Never Too Late for Britain’s Oldest Debut Author
It’s fair to say I didn’t expect, aged 93, to become Britain’s oldest debut author … I wanted people to know what it was like for the boys back in those days … My alcoholic, gambling father who deserted us; leaving school at 13 to help my struggling mother make rent. And then there is Jim: how we met at a dance and travelled the world together. My doomed love affairs, too. Even as I was writing I asked myself, who the heck would want to read all this? But once I got started, it became a joy …
My family isn’t perfect, and neither am I, but I laid it all bare. Writing it all down was liberating really; it taught me not to care.
I’ve had no children, that never quite worked out, so I had nobody to pass all these stories down to. But I still wanted to leave something behind, a footprint, to show it happened … Now I can get on with the next one … I’ll be 95 in May, I’d better hurry up.”
February 14, 2021 – Inspiration is Overrated
When I say something like ‘inspiration is overrated’, it’s not because I think you don’t ever need to be inspired. What I’m trying to tell you, and what I still tell myself frequently, is that inspiration is rarely the first step. When it does come out of the blue, it’s glorious. But it’s much more in your own hands than the divine-intervention-type beliefs we all tend to have about inspiration. Most of the time, inspiration has to be invited.”
– Jeff Tweedy, How to Write One Song (View on Amazon).
February 7, 2021 – Being Young Again
There was always the feeling that one would get around to being young again. And that when one was young again, life would resume the course from which it had so shockingly deviated.”
– Deborah Eisenberg, short story writer, Your Duck Is My Duck (View on Amazon)
January 31, 2021 – When Fiction Comes Alive
If fiction can come alive in this way then it will always be on the side of life, it will always have vitality, even when dealing, as it often does, with the more painful aspects of human experience. At best it will be a celebration of life and at least, when times get hard, it will be a glow in the dark.”
– Graham Swift, on his recent novel Here We Are (View on Amazon)