Tuesday, July 23, 2019

You are not behind.

Compare yourself to yourself yesterday, not to younger people who aren't you. Everyone progresses at a different rate, so don't let anyone else make you feel behind. You probably don't know exactly where you're going, so feeling behind doesn't help. Instead, start planning experiments. As Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote a century ago, "All life is an experiment."

-- David Epstein, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

The Color Inside by James Turrell. Photo by Sara Belknap.

Thursday, October 18, 2018


Lori Kennedy on the PBS show Sewing with Nancy demonstrates free motion machine quilting: "I'm not a fast sewer. But listening to your sewing machine can help you develop a good rhythm." (Photo: Nancy Zieman.)

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Disappearing acts

In the writing I like best, the writer disappears and the work seems to have written itself. This kind of disappearing act, ironically, requires the closest attention to language and form.

From Ongoingness: The End of a Diary by Sarah Manguso:
I often prefer writers' diaries to their work written intentionally for publication. It's as if I want the information without the obstacles of style or form. But of course all writing possesses style and form, and in good writing they aren't obstacles.
Another friend said, I want to write sentences that seem as if no one wrote them. The goal being the creation of a pure delivery system, without the distraction of a style.  The goal being a form no one notices, the creation of what seems like pure feeling, not of what seems like a vehicle for feeling. Language as pure experience, pure memory. I too wanted to achieve that impossible effect.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Read under good light.

From 1986 but still timely, this New York Times article by Elaine Louie: "Expert Advice on Selecting a Good Reading Lamp."
  • The older you get, the more light you need. When you're young you can read by low light or no light. At 60, you need around 100 watts.
  • Too much light is as bad as too little. Glare hurts your eyes.
  • Avoid high contrast. "What you want is a well-lit room where the reading area is illuminated by a generous, focused pool of light, and the surrounding area by comfortable ambient lighting."
  • Translucent shades are best for reading.
  • Three-way bulbs (50-100-150) are most comfortable and useful.
  • A reading lamp should be placed to the side and slightly behind the reader. It can go on either side. "But to avoid the shadow of your arm while writing and reading simultaneously, a right-handed person should place the lamp on the left."

Monday, January 29, 2018

Writing lessons from lawyers

Janet Reno, 1938 - 2016
"Use small, old words." -- Janet Reno

"Make time to think." -- Swain Wood

Thursday, November 16, 2017


"If he were a better painter, he would, most likely, not be so superior an artist." -- Clement Greenberg

Automat, 1927

Tuesday, November 7, 2017


What you have to say is more important than your inadequacy at saying it.
-- Peter Davison