You write because you have an idea in your mind that feels so genuine, so important, so true. And yet, by the time this idea passes through the different filters of your mind, and into your hand, and onto the page or computer screen—it becomes distorted, and it’s been diminished. The writing you end up with is an approximation, if you’re lucky, of whatever it was you really wanted to say.
When this happens, it’s quite a sobering reminder of your limitations as a writer. It can be extremely frustrating. When I’m writing, a thought will occasionally pass unblemished, unperturbed, through my head onto the screen—clearly, like through a glass. It’s an intoxicating, euphoric sensation to feel that I’ve communicated something so real, and so true. But this doesn’t happen often. (I can only think that there are some writers who write that way all the time. I think that’s the difference between greatness and just being good.)
Even my finished books are approximations of what I intended to do. I try to narrow the gap, as much as I possibly can, between what I wanted to say and what’s actually on the page. But there’s still a gap, there always is. It’s very, very difficult. And it’s humbling.
Just one of the brilliant, comforting and very true thoughts from How To Write: A Year In Advice. Read it! Even Jonathan Franzen has something sensible to say!
Scottish poetry books to buy in July — thanks, SPL! (I already have Dat Trickster Sun and it’s great!)
This is a great article by Scottish Book Trust’s Chris, on why Michael Gove’s new “ideas” for the classroom are more harmful than people think.
I don’t even know what to say about this: “I don’t mean that Twitter is stupid but rather that it rewards careful phrasing, careful impersonating, brisk readings of cultural attitudes — in short, rhetoric.” Go ahead and replace “Twitter” with “poetry” in that last sentence and tell me if the meaning changes any for you.
How Not To Review Women’s Writing is just completely sublime.
I just discovered Kim Addonizio’s twitter feed, and it’s full of small poems she’s written specially for Twitter! Brighten up your lunch break!
Reading can ruin your life. Trufax.
Not many writers manage to get sober and those who do often suffer a decline in output: testament not so much to the power of alcohol as a creative stimulant as to its role in destroying brain function, obliterating memory and playing havoc with the ability to formulate and express thought in former alcoholics. But Duras wrote one of her best and certainly most famous novels two years after she stopped drinking. The Lover tells the story of a 15-year-old French girl in Indochina who has an erotic relationship with – yes – a much older Chinese man. Much of the book was drawn from the violence and degradation from which Duras had emerged.
This article about women writers who drank was so good that I went straight out and bought the author’s book.
Where to submit your writing this summer. You’re welcome.
Here is a list of all of the books referenced on Orange Is The New Black… in case you wanted to know.
Would it have made Sexton happy to know she won the award by default? She thought she’d won based on the merit of her work. Everyone else (except perhaps those in the know, the literary elite) thought so, too. That’s how awards look—on the outside. In the end, none of the jurors got what they wanted. And the Pulitzer Prize made Anne Sexton a star. She was primed for it: beautiful, sexy, chain-smoking, death-obsessed—“the living Sylvia Plath,” as she came to call herself. The first two books she wrote after winning the Pulitzer, Love Poems and Transformations, were bestsellers. They’re Sexton at her apex. The prize gave her confidence; it loosened her up. In Transformations she even let herself have some good, mordant fun.
How Anne Sexton won the Pulitzer Prize.
I guess I have to stop making snarky comments about James Patterson now.
This is a super positive way to look at rejection!
So what happens to nerdy guys who keep finding out that the princess they were promised is always in another castle? When they “do everything right,” they get good grades, they get a decent job, and that wife they were promised in the package deal doesn’t arrive? When the persistent passive-aggressive Nice Guy act fails, do they step it up to elaborate Steve-Urkel-esque stalking and stunts? Do they try elaborate Revenge of the Nerds-style ruses? Do they tap into their inner John Galt and try blatant, violent rape?
Do they buy into the “pickup artist” snake oil—started by nerdy guys, for nerdy guys—filled with techniques to manipulate, pressure and in some cases outright assault women to get what they want? Or when that doesn’t work, and they spend hours a day on sites bitching about how it doesn’t work, like Elliot Rodger’s hangout “PUAHate.com,” sometimes, do they buy some handguns, leave a manifesto on the Internet and then drive off to a sorority house to murder as many women as they can?
Your Princess Is In Another Castle is one of the best things I’ve seen written about Elliot Rodger and the tragic Isla Vista shootings…
…and another is this poem by Freesia McKee.
I really want to see this movie (named after my favourite song).
Instead of your real phone number, give a guy who’s bothering you the number of the bell hooks hotline! (WE NEED THIS IN THE UK.)
Tattoos on old people.
I like this picture of my cellulite is rather heart-warming. (And possibly, ought to be a body acceptance hashtag.)
OK, everyone go home. This eleven year old wins at everything.
DOG GIFS ALL DAY LONG BECAUSE FRIDAY.
Who needs Westeros?
THANK YOU SO MUCH SARAH for sending this woman into my life. (Don’t ask questions. Just watch this.)
& finally… here is a cat beating a human at Jenga.
Have a great weekend!
Like shiny things? Check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!