Hemingway on Writing

From Ernest Hemingway’s acceptance speech for the 1954 Nobel Prize for Literature:

Writing, at its best, is a lonely life.  Organizations for writers palliate the writer’s loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing.  He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates.  For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.

How simple the writing of literature would be if it were only necessary to write in another way what has been well written.  It is because we have had such great writers in the past that a writer is driven far out past where he can go, out to where no one can help him.

A writer should write what he has to say and not speak it.

Daytona Beach Morning Journal
Dec 11, 1954

Hemingway’s a master (of course) and I don’t doubt that he’s right (I know he is).  But, as an aspiring writer, I hope that writers can get through those lonely moments without feeling too terribly alone.

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Anything but This

300,000 pounds of tomatoes – to serve no purpose other than to “fight”?  Seriously??

Call me sensitive.  Call me a bleeding heart…

But.

I find this to be an insensitive and gross waste of resources in any time (good or bad).  In a recession, when people are starving by the thousands, it’s just ridiculous.

Take that $25 and help someone eat.

If that doesn’t make you feel better, I don’t know what will!

Working on that focus. Best advice this week.

L.M. Sacasas

A couple of weeks ago I read Cheri Lucas’ “Instapaper and My Ideal Intellectual State” with a certain empathetic resignation. Lucas was finding that a new work situation made it increasingly difficult to keep up with the daily torrent of online information coming through all the usual channels — Twitter, RSS feeds, etc. She looked to Instapaper as a way of keeping up a semblance of keeping up, but to no avail. Instapaper quickly became a repository of what might have been read in some ideal world. A site of aspirational knowledge, a kind of Pinterest for the mind (without all the graphical flair).

I get it. This is where I now live too. I haven’t posted in over two weeks. For those of you who have recently started following The Frailest Thing thanks to the whole toilet paper thing — well, first of all, welcome and thank you. Secondly…

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The Simple Psychology of Online Business Networking

Ever notice how businesses just don’t seem to *get it* online?  Strange, when it is really so simple.  Certainly not rocket science.  Networking online is about being social.  Period.  Plain and simple.

Many will argue with that premise, and I guarantee you that they’re wrong.

Even if your primary purpose for existing online is for business reasons, you need to be social.  Trust me.  It works.  All that other stuff is dreck (yes, that’s the technical term, the other term is not suitable for a PG rated blog).

Think of it this way, if you held a happy hour soiree for your business prospects, clients and office staff, you’d better have plenty of good food, booze (and a non-alcho alternative), plus a lot of interesting conversations going on.  The guy who stops by, business cards in hand, wearing a used car salesman suit – well let’s just say – he’s not going to be the life of the party and it’s doubtful he’ll make your guest list for future events (unless he’s the boss’s nephew, in which case you assign your assistant the task of babysitting him at all future gatherings).

Of course, I’m not telling you anything you don’t know.

If you’re casting about for a role as the least successful networker online, by all means please adhere to the following:

  • Make no attempts to learn about the community in which you’ve established a profile, I mean why bother getting to know the neighborhood, you came to sell stuff!
  • Create an insular community of a few key minions influencers, best if you pay them, and interact only with them.
  • Follow no one.  Like even fewer.
  • Post about yourself, all of the time, at regular intervals, day in and day out, on and on, ad nauseum.
  • Post your location, at regular intervals, day in and day out, on and on, ad nauseum.
  • Alternatively, you can post quotes, every five minutes, 24/7.  Who doesn’t need a little inspiration?
  • Direct message any and every one who shows the slightest bit of interest in you, be sure to use a 100% canned message, those always work the best.
  • Share jokes so offensive that even Howard Stern would unfollow you.
  • Buy thousands of bot followers so you’ll look like you’re part of the community.
  • If you’re feeling really adventurous and special, hire yourself out as a guest speaker and give talks on The Successful Brand Online – Little Work, Great Reward.

Now, I’m not saying any ONE of these things is particularly bad in and of itself (although, I wouldn’t recommend them).  As a matter of fact, there are multitudes of businesses and “professionals” online doing exactly these things – and supposedly succeeding at it.

But if you want results, a true fan base, correlating sales or interest in your brand.  I’d suggest you think twice and try something a little more unique.  Be social.  The community (and I) will thank you!

OMG. WTH! Where did our words go?

The evolution of language, especially the history of the origin of words, has been something that’s interested me for as long as I can remember.  I think I might have pursued a degree in linguistics, if I had the vaguest notion of a viable career path in that field (other than professor, which really wasn’t my cup of tea).

That we managed, somehow, to go from scratching stick figures in caves and on trees, to formulating precise words such as Azure and Onomatopoeia, is nothing short of amazing.

Don’t even get me started on how we could have gone from stone tablets to parchment & scrolls to computer printouts and, in an odd twist, back to tablets again.

Dictionary Word Imagine

copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

It’s hard for me to imagine what our language will look like in 20 years, or even 10.  And it’s not just English, pick a language and I guarantee that it’s been significantly altered by texting, instant messaging, sharing in 140 and just a general impatience in trying to get our thoughts across quickly, virtually, and in real time.

I grew up on a steady diet of word games.  Scrabble, Boggle, crosswords, and even the Sunday Jumble played an integral role in my childhood.  My father was an erudite, a logophile, knowledgeable about words I really couldn’t believe existed until I looked them up. Then, assuming he just happened to know that particular word out of sheer luck, I would promptly quiz him on the meaning and it’s usage.  He always knew the exact definition to a fault.  He was this way about almost every subject imaginable.  A fan of Jeopardy, I never once heard him “guess” and his answers were always correct.

I wonder what he would think of our state of less is more when it comes to words. How so many of us have reduced our vocabulary to the point that Awesome has a dozen different meanings. And how his own daughter can often be found tweeting LOL – simply because there really isn’t enough time (or room) to expand upon the conversation at hand. And because she knows few if any really want to delve into a true conversation when there’s so much sharing, and liking, and pinning to do.

I miss words so much so that I’ve downloaded dozens of word game apps in an effort to keep the faith, lexicographically speaking. I’m taking great liberty with certain words here. But that’s just how much I’m missing words.

WordFeud anyone?

Estimates say that the average person knows anywhere from 25,000 to 50,000 words, but uses only a fraction of those words (and that was pre-Twitter).  Then there was talk, in the late 90’s and into this century, of a drastic decline in the vocabulary of young adults – reportedly almost a 60% decline.  Although, that may have been a bit of an exaggeration. Read this for the background (almost wrote deets there).

However, I think it’s fair to say (without need of a scientific review) that our collective vocabulary is on the decline, in a big way.

It wouldn’t make sense to post something like this:

Yesterday, as the sun was rising on the horizon, shining a golden blaze over crashing waves, my frenzied golden retriever tried to knock down my cranky neighborhood as I spilled a cup of caramel creme latte over her crinkled grey hair.

When one could just say:

OMG. Crazy mutt. WTH! May have to move. #MorningWalk

Early on, I tried to resist, I really did, but I’ll admit, so much of my vocabulary has been usurped by 🙂 and ;).  Occasionally, I throw all caution to the wind and speak my peace – fully and in extended vocab (but not always).

So when you visit me on Twitter don’t take offense if I happen to throw a ROFL your way…

When in Rome (and all that jazz).

Sometimes You Just Want to Say “Hey!”

I’m in solid reflection mode this week (actually this month) and I’m sure it has a lot to do with being 40.  Ack.  Now you know.  I’d hide it forever if I could, but since my oldest has just finished college, it’s more embarrassing to try and pass myself off as mid-30s then it is to just embrace being 40+.  It’s great to look young(ish) for your age, but no one wants to be mistaken for the Original Teen Mom (not that there’s anything wrong with that, but for me, high school was angst filled enough as it was…).

I wandered onto this blog >> http://40goingon28.blogspot.com – completely at random – and thanks, of course to Twitter (but we’ve firmly established my social media obsession already).  So I wander onto this really cool blog, about a really cool city (I’m originally a Bay Area gal, doncha know), and find that here’s someone who’s managed to stay on the edge of hip, even at 40.

Oh, yeah, for sure, not a claim to fame, there are plenty of others.  But not as many as I’d like to think, and I lost my calling card somewhere on the road between 35 and 40.

You haven’t lived until you’ve tried to figure out what to wear to a rock concert at 40.

So I’m reading this uber cool blog and flipping channels and Fight Club is on.  I’m not a die hard fan, but I enjoyed it when it first came out.  Which led me to thinking about Trinity, The Matrix, women-as-strong-role-models and how cool that whole entree into the 21st century Mod Life was.

Yes.  Yes!

Where’s the place in the world where I can be a 40 year old mother of four, urban transplant to suburban, art & science loving writer, and still love Fight Club?

Where, I ask you.

Don’t know?  Me either.

But that’s where I want to live.

I’ve never been super cool, or super hip, so I really shouldn’t put that much pressure on myself.   But if you’re young, take heed, one never gets over the urge to at least try to be somewhat edgy (whether that’s trying to be the opposite of cool or trying to pretend like you don’t care or sitting on the stoop posing as a hipster) – there’s an inner you that never goes away.  Even when the world views you as something other those aspirations.

In another life, I’ll choose to come back as an actress (another dream I never pursued) and spend my days being every cool character they can think to put up on the screen.

Is 50 the new 20?

It’s no secret that we’re all living longer.  That our collective expectations, of when one should be considered “fully” an adult, have adjusted drastically.

20 years ago, 11 year olds were babysitting and walking to the store for mom, 18 year olds were starting careers, and men and women were starting families at the ripe old age of 24 or 25.

Now, 13 year olds have babysitters, 21 year olds are moving back home, and if you’re 35 and not married, your friends will say “Well, not to worry, families start at 40 these days…”

At what age does adulthood fully set in these days?  Hard to say, but I’m at a loss for words every time I see the trailer for the lastest Meryl Streep flick – Hope Springs.  Starring Streep and Tommy Lee Jones as a couple trying to rekindle their marriage and their love, the tagline runs something along the lines of:

Hope Springs, finally – a love story for adults…

Finally.  A love story for adults.  Because those other love stories featuring “kids” playing at love (even though they’re 30) don’t really count.  Because now we expect you to be a solid 60 before we’ll consider you worthy of mature decision making?  Have we reached the point of 40 being the new 18, where 50 is the new 20?

Wandering through my days (I really don’t wander as much as I intimate in my blog, but it sounds more youthful doesn’t it), anyway as I run through life I am struck by the fact that young adults, in their 20s and 30s are encouraged to be more youthful, put off “growing up” for a longer period of time and Enjoy Life.

As if there is zero enjoyment in putting down roots, establishing one’s self, and embracing a family life.

As if there exists no reason to get a job at 30 and work at said employer until one retires.  (Of course, this is no longer a reasonable expectation, or option, in a world where employers will slice out a large chunk of their staff without hesitation, forethought or remorse.  A world where employers are no more loyal to their employers then a major sports team looking to make salary cap room for the latest celeb free agent.)

But is 60 really the new age at which one can be called an adult?

Have we gone that far?

No wonder my 9 year old doesn’t feel the need to make up his bed or take on the responsibility of cleaning his room (not that I let him get away with that, but all I hear is “Mom… none of my friends have to do this!”   Is this true?  Is he right?)

And if so, what am I doing here?  I should be out skateboarding, or hanging at the Apple store, picking out the next gadget to beg my mom to buy for me (she being only a decade into adulthood should be happy to comply right?).

I know it is just a movie, and sappy taglines are par for the course.

But…

There’s a long stretch of life post college and pre-pre-retirement age.

I’d love to see us stop writing off mid-life as insignificant and embrace it for it’s worth.  Mid-life is that wonderful time where you’re old enough to know better and young enough to Just Do It!  Mid-life is that time where you’re still learning from an older and wiser generation, but you’re also coaching a youthful set toward the goal of Life in Full Living Color.

Mid-life is the time where you can consider a new career, a new hobby, a new way of doing things and you’ll still have half your life to enjoy that new venture.

Mid-life is wonderful!

Baby Boomers have been usurping our vision of life since, well, since they appeared on the scene 40 or 50 years ago.  Angry, mad as heck, and shouting “Dont Trust Anyone Over 30/Authority/the Man/Your Mama…”  Then they swapped out Hippie for Yuppie and activism for MBAs and began to Seize the Day (read: they made a lot of money, bought a lot of real estate, and they’re fairly well set).  Never mind the dust left behind for the rest of us.

Baby Boomers have been trampling on Gen X’ers day in the sun for, well, for all of my life.

And now they’ve crowned themselves the official Adults in the room.

That’s life.

Meanwhile, please excuse me, I’m headed to the mall and then off to see NKOTB (that’s New Kids on The Block to you adults)…

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