“In an age obsessed with practicality, productivity, and efficiency, I frequently worry that we are leaving little room for abstract knowledge and for the kind of curiosity that invites just enough serendipity to allow for the discovery of ideas we didn’t know we were interested in until we are, ideas that we may later transform into new combinations with applications both practical and metaphysical.”—The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge | Brain Pickings (via infoneer-pulse)
“Rule No. 2: Don’t go searching for a subject, let your subject find you. You can’t rush inspiration. How do you think Capote came to “In Cold Blood”? It was just an ordinary day when he picked up the paper to read his horoscope, and there it was — fate. Whether it’s a harrowing account of a multiple homicide, a botched Everest expedition or a colorful family of singers trying to escape from Austria when the Nazis invade, you can’t force it. Once your subject finds you, it’s like falling in love. It will be your constant companion. Shadowing you, peeping in your windows, calling you at all hours to leave messages like, “Only you understand me.” Your ideal subject should be like a stalker with limitless resources, living off the inheritance he received after the suspiciously sudden death of his father. He’s in your apartment pawing your stuff when you’re not around, using your toothbrush and cutting out all the really good synonyms from the thesaurus. Don’t be afraid: you have a best seller on your hands.”—Colson Whitehead echoes the secret of creativity in science in his 11 rules for writing, a fine addition to our ongoing archive of writing advice. (via explore-blog)
Hating a book is not unlike hating a person; in fact it’s tempting to just go ahead and hate the author personally, by proxy, qua human being, but I know that that would be a mistake. How often have I met and disliked writers whose books I love; and conversely, hated the books and then wound up liking the writer? Too often. Often enough that I’ve figured out that when I hate a book, it’s usually just a miscalculation or a lack of skill, on the part of the writer or on the part of me, rather than an actual character flaw within the writer. …
And then I stop and think: wait. Maybe it is just me. Maybe this book is perfectly fine. Maybe I’ve completely missed the point. Maybe other people will find joy and sadness and richness and beauty in this book, even though I didn’t. Maybe it really is a great book, and the problem is that I’m just not a great reader. Maybe it’s not the book, it’s me. Maybe the culture isn’t broken at all. Maybe I’m just wrong.
And I find that possibility perversely comforting.
“The problem, of course, is that readers are all different. People are all different, although this little fact does not jibe with the modern view of us all as consumers, interchangeable widgets with standardized desires. The fact of the matter is that I can write a scene which one reader will find tiresomely blatant and on-the-nose, another will find shallow and themeless, a third will be utterly confused by, and which will make the fourth one cry with its pathos and cleverness. And moreover, I can write a scene that one reader will, over the course of a lifetime and four rereads, have all four of those reactions to.”—From a very smart post by Elizabeth Bear; go read the whole thing. (via gwendabond)
Here is the thing—you don’t need to stop, but you need to slow your roll and put this thing in park for a minute (pardon the extended metaphor). Before you spend one more dollar, you need to sit down and think about what it is you want to get out of all of this. What, in your dream of dreams, do you want to have happen? Have a label scoop you up? Just get a good booking agent? A manager? Be the next Lady Gaga? Write it out. What does the dream look like? Do not be pragmatic. Be honest about your ambition. Don’t fear or fence in the dream. This is where yr power and energy lurks.
Once you have it written out, you are going to start at the very beginning and baby-step this shit. Just concentrate on doing the next right thing, one little bit at a time. It’s time to hit reset.
The New Visions Award will be given for a middle grade or young adult fantasy, science fiction, or mystery novel by a writer of color. Authors who have not previously had a middle grade or young adult novel published are eligible.
Some words in the English language tend to be overused and therefore lose their power. These are called Dead Words. Below is a list of dead words and more interesting alternatives that should be used in their place when you are writing.
Also: too, moreover, besides, as well as, in addition to
“[T]he effects that awe has on decision-making and well-being can be explained by awe’s ability to actually change our subjective experience of time by slowing it down. Experiences of awe help to brings us into the present moment which, in turn, adjusts our perception of time, influences our decisions, and makes life feel more satisfying than it would otherwise.”—Being in Awe Can Expand Time & Enhance Well-Being