ᔥ The New York Review of Books:
Intelligent writers can produce intelligent prose using almost any instrument, but the medium in which they write will always have some more or less subtle effect on their prose. Karl Popper famously denounced Platonic politics, and the resulting fantasies of a closed, unchanging society, in his book The Open Society and Its Enemies (1945). When I work in Word, for all its luxuriant menus and dazzling prowess, I can’t escape a faint sense of having entered a closed, rule-bound society. When I write in WordPerfect, with all its scruffy, low-tech simplicity, the world seems more open, a place where endings can’t be predicted, where freedom might be real.
I will never understand how people write entire books in Microsoft Word.
ᔥ Open Culture:
With Halloween fast approaching, let us remind you that few American writers can get you into the existentially chilling spirit of this climatically chilling season than Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849). And given that he lived and wrote entirely in the first half of the 19th century, few American writers can do it at so little financial cost to you, the reader. Today we’ve collected Poe’s freely available, public domain works of pure psychological unsettlement into five volumes of eBooks
The volumes are available in multiple formats for iOS devices, Kindles, and other eReaders.
I’m thrilled to announce I have a new podcast called COVERED on the Fiat Lux network. Ben Alexander was kind enough let me launch the show on his network and with the audio expertise of Lorenzo Guddemi, the show sounds better than I could’ve hoped.
COVERED is a one-hour, biweekly podcast where I interview authors about their books, as well as their journeys from ideas on napkins all the way to final published works. My first guest is Anthony Breznican, the author of the dark coming-of-age novel Brutal Youth.
Ever since I quit inThirty, I’ve missed podcasting. I’ve popped up as a guest on a few shows since then, but I wanted to do something for myself to fill the void left. I knew it couldn’t be a tech podcast. I can barely listen to them anymore, so I knew I certainly couldn’t record one. I looked at the roster on my iPhone and noticed a trend: almost all the podcasts I currently listen to are related to writing and books. This is where I want to be.
Unfortunately, my favorite topics are often separated into different shows. Some podcasts are like book discussion clubs where the hosts discuss what they’ve been reading this week. Others are interview shows where authors talk about their latest books, but not much else. And the last group talks about the business and craft of writing, but sound more like “how-to” podcasts than organic discussions.
I knew I could fill that gap, so I reached out to my author friends on the Internet, as well as some friends I hadn’t met yet, and put together a show where I talk to authors about their own books, their favorite books growing up, and what they have to teach the audience about writing and publishing. The result is something I couldn’t be more proud of and I hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoy putting it together.
I hope you’ll find room in your podcatcher of choice for my show and if you like what you hear, leave a review in iTunes1.
And remember, don’t judge a book until it’s COVERED.
I’ll update with the link as soon as the show pops up in iTunes. ↩
ᔥ The Atlantic:
Darkness and dim lighting can encourage freedom of thought, which leads to a more prolific generation of ideas, according to a recent paper in the Journal of Environmental Psychology. Specifically, dim lighting downplays a room’s distractions, promoting focus on internal reflection and the work at hand.
Evidence also supports the habits of people who eschew a desk altogether, instead opting to work in a coffee shop. A little bit of ambient noise (between 50 and 70 decibels—the average noise level of a coffee shop) slightly disrupts the mental process, which one study showed to help people engage in more abstract thinking during a word-association task.
Perhaps this was why some of my best work was written at the back of the Ground Central cafe near my office. Dark, mildly disruptive, and familiar, yet not my usual workspace. And then there’s this:
Like a few notable modern creatives, such as Donna Tartt, Quentin Tarantino, George R.R. Martin, and Neil Gaiman, Fitzgerald also wrote by hand, only moving to his typewriter for final drafts. Though few people actually do it anymore, writing by hand can help with idea generation, learning, and memorization.
I completely agree with that.
Sylvia Beach, proprietor of the famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris, was the first to publish James Joyce’s Ulysses at a time when no mainstream publisher would:
In 1922, Sylvia remarkably and single-handedly published Joyce’s epic tome. He was notorious for working until the end, trashing printer proofs by adding huge amounts of text and working on his novels and stories up to the very last minute. While other publishers turned their backs on Joyce’s genius, Beach chased it—and like a good entrepreneur, risked everything in order to afford its printing.
Unfortunately for Beach, the risk did not pay off when Joyce eventually sold the rights to the book to Random House in the 1930s and failed to pass any of his advance on to her.