I recently read this excerpt from “Truth and Beauty” by Robert Flynn in Trinity University Press’ Art at Our Doorstep: San Antonio Writers and Artists.
That was when I first got the notion of being a writer. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We didn’t go in much for writing at the country school I attended. We studied penmanship. But we knew what a writer was. A writer was somebody who was dead. And if he was any good he had been dead a long time. If he was real good, people killed him. They killed him with hemlock. Hemlock was the Greek word for Freshman Composition.
The country school I attended was closed, and we were bused to Chillicothe. Chillicothe, Texas is small. Chillicothe is so small there’s only one Baptist Church. Chillicothe is so small you have to go to Quanah to have a coincidence. For a good coincidence, you have to go to Vernon. Chillicothe was fairly bursting with truth and beauty, and my teacher encouraged me to write something that had an epiphany. For an epiphany, you had to go all the way to Wichita Falls.
Read the full excerpt at Robert Flynn’s website
Normally, I don’t recommend any needull with lists. But, I like Farnam Street and what they suggest on effective ways to take notes while reading makes sense to me. But, for this you will have to have your own copy of the book 🙂
There are three steps to effectively taking notes while reading:
At the end of each chapter write a few bullet points that summarize what you’ve read and make it personal if you can — that is, apply it to something in your life. Also note any unanswered questions. When you’re done the book, put it down for a week.
Pick up the book again and go through all your notes. Most of these will be garbage but there will be lots you want to remember. Write the good stuff on the inside cover of the book along with a page number.
Copy out the excerpts by hand or take a picture of them to pop into Evernote. Tag accordingly.
The complete article
Shane Parrish — Farnam Street
I could relate to this poem. In fact anyone can, who reads about wars and deaths sitting in the comforts of his house over tea/ coffee. An excerpt below,
Do not believe me were I to talk to you of war, because when I spoke of blood, I was drinking coffee, when I spoke of graves, I was picking yellow daisies in Marj Ibn Amer, when I described the murderers, I was listening to my friends’ giggles, and when I wrote about a burnt theatre in Aleppo, I was standing before you in an air-conditioned one.
The complete poem
Asmaa Azaizeh — Asymptote
A long overdue recommendation on literature and poetry. There is a certain purity in poetry which is missing in articles on everyday world.
Another argument against courting danger is that danger doesn’t guarantee an ability to make art. Plenty of people are exposed to very real danger every day, and they aren’t making art out of it—that would require the luxury of time and leisure unavailable to those trying to escape genocide or to survive famine—to name but two of the many ongoing realities in this world. Danger can literally destroy the ability to make art. Much has been written about the relationship between art and mental illness, especially when it comes to poetry, since there have been a fair number of poets who have produced lasting work while wrestling with clinical depression. But so many of those poets also committed suicide eventually. One truth about depression is that it can be fatal for the sufferer to spend extended time with the “demons” that attend it—far from being conducive to the making of art, it can lead to a despair so overwhelming that suicide seems the only right response. Or, if it doesn’t lead to suicide, it can lead to a crippling stasis, an inability to move forward, mentally, and often physically. It’s not uncommon to have poetry students who suffer from depression. And every few years I’ll have a student who wonders if staying on meds is a good idea—do the drugs dull the mind to the harder realities of life, and if we distance ourselves from those realities, aren’t we avoiding the hard wrestling from which art arises? For some people, yes—and those people aren’t likely trying to be poets, which seems a reasonable enough choice in life. For other people, I like to think that medication might provide a certain stability within which reflecting on life’s difficulties can become not only possible but perhaps useful. We don’t have to be mauled by a lion in order to consider its potential for violence, the strange beauty of pure instinct, its power to stop us, sometimes, from looking away . .
The complete article
Carl Phillips — Work in Progress
There has been a lot of talk about Bob Dylan winning a Nobel for literature. The voices have got shriller since he said he will not be able to make it to the ceremony. Here is another great writer, Stephen King, speaking up on why Dylan deserved the prize:
People complaining about his Nobel either don’t understand or it’s just a plain old case of sour grapes. I’ve seen several literary writers who have turned their noses up at the Dylan thing, like Gary Shteyngart. Well, I’ve got news for you, Gary: There are a lot of deserving writers who have never gotten the Nobel Prize. And Gary Shteyngart will probably be one of them. That’s no reflection on his work. You have to rise to the level of a Faulkner if you’re an American.
My kids listen to Dylan, and so do my grandkids. That’s three generations. That’s real longevity and quality. Most people in pop music are like moths around a bug light; they circle for a while and then there’s a bright flash and they’re gone. Not Dylan.
The complete article
Stephen King – Amazon page