Tag Archives: writing

Bookish is Back!

Hello, world…I’m back!

It was not my intention to go silent for a year. Things happened, I got busy. (I “only” read 17 books in 2015…can you believe?) Truth be told, I’m still busy—but things have been calming down for the year so here we are.

What could possibly have taken my attention away from Bookish?

Rain in the Forecast
Shortly after Atticus died last year I gained a new charge—at least part time. Rain was (and is) a bit of a wild child, but I started writing about our work together last summer on Rain in the Forecast. It has been about a year since we first started working on her social graces, but she has come a long way since last fall.

CSA Season
When you have a bundle of vegetables to use or lose each week for 23 weeks, making meals becomes an important part of your week. This is the third year I’ve split a CSA share with Steven. Each week we get our veggies from Zenger Farm  and split them up. We both eat very well, but it means that cooking takes a high prominence in our daily lives.

In order to maximize value from the CSA, I’m currently reading Eat It Up: 150 Recipes to Use Every Bit and Enjoy Every Bite of the Food You Eat. In the past I’ve written about great food reads, so I may write about this one later.

Oregon Standoff/Bundy Trial
Over the last several weeks I’ve been following the Oregon standoff trial really closely. A few weeks ago I even took a day off of work to go watch the trial in person! I could probably write a lengthy blog post about the trial alone. (And another blog post about the verdict…)

One amusing element that arose out of this whole wacky trial was Bundy Court Sketches. Scott Klatt even self-published a book called The Migration: Snack or Die compiled of his sketches about the refuge takeover and trial.

Yoga
I’ve been going to yoga class from one to three times a week for the last few years. Over the last year it has become more of a challenge because my time has been more stretched overall and because I’ve had more flare-ups of an old injury this year. Turns out that yoga may have been causing that! So I’ve been adjusting as needed.

In February I took two workshops with Dana Falsetti and Jessamyn Stanley, who have become renowned for their radical idea that one needn’t be wafer thin to be a badass yogi. Jessamyn will be releasing her first book, Yoga for Every Body, next spring!

Friday Reads
It’s a simple concept: take a photo of the book you’re reading on Friday and post it on social media. Inspired by Missoulian Chris LaTray, and my own desire to read more books this year than last, I’ve been posting Friday Reads photos on Instagram for a couple of months. I’ve already read one more book this year than last, and we still have a couple months left!

That’s more or less what has been taking up my time! Now that it’s winter I’m hoping to produce more work for Bookish. There might even be a new project or two in the works—more to come as time allows.

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Gonzo Blogging

Surely you’ve visited Bookish and wondered, ‘who writes this crap?’ Perhaps you saw a post that had a missing “the” or a sentence with a subject-verb agreement issue. Yep, I’ve spotted those too.

Given you are a bookish audience, you’re likely also familiar with Hunter S. Thompson and his “gonzo journalism.” In a complete misappropriation of the term, I often think of and refer to my blogging activities as gonzo blogging.

Ideally, a piece of writing goes through some amount of editorial work before it is published. The piece is drafted, revisited, copyedited, and scheduled for publication. Usually there is at least one reader aside from the writer. The longer it takes from first draft to publication, and the more eyes that see it, usually the more polished the final piece can be.

Not here at Bookish!

More often than not, Bookish posts tend to get written in minuscule pockets of time, and published almost immediately. If I revisit the post hours or days later, copy problems will often jump out at me and I’ll fix them. That’s the magic of the internet: once something is “published,” you can change it pretty easily.

Why are we all about gonzo blogging here at Bookish?

Like the little blue guy above, I like to throw myself whole-heartedly into an idea when real inspiration strikes (“lunatic daring”), but there’s usually not a lot of time. If the inspiration has passed by the time I’m able to sit down and work, I usually write about something else. (Or watch IT Crowd videos on YouTube.) But if I do have a pocket of time, watch out! Over at Bikish I recently wrote a piece about the death of Working Kirk Reeves (aka “trumpet guy”) in about an hour.

Blogging is also a way to continue developing my non-professional writing skills, and promote projects I’m working on. Perhaps someday my blogging will need to step it up a few notches as the audience builds, but for now launching my motorcycle into the rafters at a moment’s notice is just fine by me.

(Apologies and much ‘don’t sue me’ boot-kissing to Disney, new corporate overlords of the patron saint of Bookish.)

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The E-book as DVD

Deleted scenes are one of my favorite parts of watching movies on DVD. After the feature I see material that was cut for time or pacing, according to the accompanying introduction or director commentary. The cut footage often lends additional information to one of the film’s subplots or a character’s relationship. It’s tough to leave this material out, but including it on the DVD probably provides some solace to the creators.

One of the more intriguing ideas that has stuck with me from MPub lectures is the idea of marketing electronic books like DVDs. In the early 1990s (approximately), consumers were happy to re-purchase all their old VHS movies on the newer technology, despite the added cost, because of “bonus features.” Now, publishers are looking for ways to pay the technological costs of e-book production (and dwindling print sales). In a couple of MPub classes the possibility of similar value-adds were discussed, like short “behind the scenes” films, author interviews, book trailers, and the like.

How do you think an e-book would deal with a deleted scene?

David Sedaris already tests his pieces out on several audiences before they get published in book form. They may appear in The New Yorker, or excerpts may be read at his speaking engagements and notes about audience reaction taken into account as he continues working on the piece. Surely he has taken that feedback and made cuts from time to time.

Writers vary in their process, but it’s also pretty common to edit as you go along, realizing at the end of a paragraph you’ve gone off on a tangent. Writing on computers means these “deleted scenes” could be lost with just a couple mouse clicks, as many writers self-edit as they work.

Would you be more likely to buy a book that had material that had been edited out? If you think you would, consider the case of “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” by Raymond Carver. One could argue that the “Raymond Carver-ness” of the story is mostly absent in its original form: as seen in the linked reprint, editor Gordon Lish had a lot to do with creating the writing style Carver is known for.

I might be interested in marked-up versions of stories like that only occasionally—mostly for the education to improve my writing, and maybe to remind myself that the best writers are human too.

The value-add that I could see working on me is annotated texts. Great ones exist: my favorite is The Annotated Alice by Lewis Carroll, with notes by Martin Gardner. Considered a classic, the notes explore various mentions in the text. For example, an offhand comment by Alice about walking into a mirror-world yields a discussion of matter (the real world) coming into contact with anti-matter (the molecules in the mirror-world) and why they would spontaneously combust. A particularly specific illustration points out the historical royal the caricature is based on. The poem “Jabberwocky” yields four full pages of information.

In addition to The Annotated Alice, I also own The Annotated Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. It was my first time reading the novel, but I suspect my appreciation for the work is directly related to additional information illuminated by the notes. And while I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, I discovered the existence of The Annotated Uncle Tom’s Cabin last year while doing research for an MPub paper, and look forward to diving into that novel one of these days.

Folding annotation in as an “added feature” to ebooks may result in that format looking like an average hyperlinked web page, interrupting the reading experience when one is required to click back and forth from original text to notes. Notes in The Annotated Alice stylishly lie in the margins of the book next to the relevant text. Readers could choose to absorb the note, or not, without much more than a movement of the eye.

What sort of “bonus features” would you like to see in the books of the future? Would the inclusion of “bonus features” influence how quickly you embrace ebook technology?

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A Solid Year of 750 Words

If you’ve never heard of it, 750words.com is a website modeled after one of the main exercises in The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. If readers take away nothing else from that book, they learn about “morning pages“—a writing exercise designed to work out all your mental chatter each morning. The theory is that only after that stuff is out of your head—including the day’s to-do list, negative thoughts about yourself, and so on—your mind is free to create and accomplish.

Cameron insists in the book that morning pages be written out by hand. When I first practiced the exercise in the early 90s, I tried it her way. There were advantages to using my muscles to write things out, but it also significantly hindered how fast I could get all my thoughts down on paper. My brain can chatter like an over-caffeinated monkey!

Apparently I’m not the only person who types much faster than they write by hand—and in this era of cloud computing, it shouldn’t be surprising that 750words.com was born. (Why 750 words? Cameron’s morning pages consisted of three pages, and 250 words per page is industry standard for estimating page count. 250 x 3 = 750words.com!)

Today is a personal milestone: a one year uninterrupted writing streak at 750words.com. I signed up for the site on August 13, 2010, but occasionally missed a day here and there throughout that hellish fall. Starting the day after my birthday though, the words cemented themselves as an integral part of my morning, and I’ve not missed a day since.

A guy named Buster developed the site, and it is supported by small donations from users. One of the fun ideas Buster has implemented include a reward system of fun animal badges based on your writing behavior. They’re motivational, too! Today’s milestone means I finally earned the pegasus with Elvis Costello glasses, which my sights have been set on for the past few months.

Several friends have also registered at 750words.com after hearing me rave about it. They’re not quite as regular as I’ve been, but writing freely and securely has also gotten them through rough patches over the past year. If getting crazybrain out of your head and down on paper sounds like a worthy exercise, I encourage you to check it out as well!

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