Showing posts from January, 2011

In Praise of Generous Enthusiasm

You know how sometimes people with expertise aren't particularly generous about sharing it? How someone on the "inside" of a group or profession tries to stay a little removed from those on the "outside," who have less experience or success? You know it happens. Those of us who despaired of being cool in high school (are writers ever cool in high school?) would like to imagine that the real world is different...but deep down, we know that the attitude is out there. We all see it from time to time. Recently, I had the opposite experience. I had the good fortune to spend a few hours, over a couple of days, with Michael Van Rooy, a Canadian (Winnipeg, specifically) writer. As you can see from his website , Michael not only wrote books--he also connected with nearly every writing organization in the region, including Thunder Bay's own Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop (NOWW) (of which I'm currently secretary). NOWW recently launched its electronic Write

Courtesy of The Week: A Useful Year-End Wrapup

Normally, I don't read year-end retrospective columns. For one thing, they tend to come out during the week between Christmas and the new year, when I'm reading my new Christmas gifts. And for another, writing my own retrospective is more interesting to me, since it's all about me , and no, I don't share that. You're welcome. But here is a retrospective "done right," in my opinion, courtesy of The Week magazine.* It is available in the December 24 - January 7 print version (it prints 48 issues per year) and is not available online. The feature is called "Books of the year,"** and it lists the five top fiction and nonfiction titles from 2010, as ranked by Many Big Name Media Outlets. What's great about their two-page spread is this: they devote approximately 3.5 column inches to a thumbnail image of the cover and two positive comments the book generated, and then another 0.75 - 1 inch to a caveat. So you get two extended and thoughtful "

Taking My Own Advice

I have written before about the difficulty I have in taking good advice, specifically good advice about writing. As you may suspect, I have that problem in other areas of life, too, sometimes to ridiculous extremes. As the kind of person who puts the "critical" in "critical thinking," I have a hard time accepting that carrying out an imperfect solution, which most solutions are, will actually be better than pointing out, ad nauseam, all the ways in which said solution will fall short of perfection. However, I'm learning. During a particularly busy, tiring, and blues-inducing spell in December, I thought, "If I were offering advice to someone else, I'd suggest that that person listen to upbeat songs to feel better." It took me a few days before I thought, "I wonder what would happen if *I* tried that." Not "someone else" -- me. I. This person, here. Well. It worked. Of course. I cheered up considerably. I've tried it again ju

As If We Needed a Reminder

Words are important. They are powerful. They should be used responsibly. For a quick yet thoughtful rumination around recent political rhetoric and its relationship to yesterday's Arizona shooting, see this NY Times article by Michael Bai, entitled "A Turning Point in the Discourse, but in Which Direction?" Before you go there to read it, though, remember: each of us uses thousands of words every day. We can influence the direction the discourse turns by the way in which we use these words and the way in which we challenge those who throw around words irresponsibly. And while this is all over the news, I'll be watching for one particular story: a politician who acknowledges that HIS OR HER OWN rhetoric has been over the top, with a promise to change it. Better yet, in a few months, would be a story about a politician who actually has DONE it. Now THAT's a story that would benefit everyone.