Even the Red Sun

It is a delicious thing to write, to be no longer yourself but to move in an entire universe of your own creating. Today, for instance, as man and woman, both lover and mistress, I rode in a forest on an autumn afternoon under the yellow leaves, and I was also the horses, the leaves, the wind, the words my people uttered, even the red sun that made them almost close their love-drowned eyes.

--Gustave Flaubert, born today in 1821


The Most Irreplaceable

Do not do what someone else could do as well as you. Do not say, do not write what someone else could say, could write as well as you. Care for nothing in yourself but what you feel exists nowhere else. And, out of yourself create, impatiently or patiently, the most irreplaceable of beings.

--André Gide, writer


This is a Placeholder

Now -- after the Austin protest in response to the grand jury verdict in Ferguson, MO -- is not a time for my voice to be the one that talks. Now is a moment when I listen. This is a placeholder where I might later put photos from the peaceful protest. For now, I keep reading.


The Clatter of Recognition

If you look at a testimony of love from 2,000 years ago it can still exactly speak to you, whereas medical advice from only 100 years ago is ridiculous.

And so as a historian, I write poetry. I'm profoundly committed to art as the answer. Indeed, I don't put science really as the way I get to any of my answers; it's just helpful. It's poetry that I look to. It's the clatter of recognition. Everybody has different ways, but I attest that poetry works pretty well.

--Jennifer Michael Hecht, poet, philosopher, and historian


National Novel Writing Month: The Sixth

That's right. This is my sixth time particpating in November's National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). If all goes to plan, it will be my sixth win, too. This year, I'm participating as a Rebel -- meaning that instead of generating 50,000 new words toward a novel, I'm spending my NaNo time editing my work in progress.

Being a data nerd and Virgo, I calculated the average number of hours (based on my first five NaNos) that it takes for me to write 50,000 words. 20 was the magic number, so I rounded up, and now I'm in the middle of my 25 hours of editing for November.

My favorite part of NaNoWriMo is, as ever, the Reference Desk section of their forums. I've written about them before -- how the questions asked within the forum consistently renew my faith in humanity. The fact that human beings are writing books that require questions like these:

  • Goats! And spinning goat hair into yarn
  • What are some common activities at a Presbyterian Youth Group?
  • French murder trials (19th century, but modern info gratefully accepted!)
  • Climate on a planet with little to no axial tilt
  • Long distance call in 1938
  • Monk's Room Furnishings in the 1600s

Dear Novelists: I love you. Keep writing.

I've noticed a sweet subset of questions from clearly younger writers this year on the forums. The perspective inherent in these questions strikes me as particularly poignant:

  • How do you feel when you find out someone has died?
  • Why would a well-educated person be in financial difficulty (besides unemployment)?
  • Details of the divorce procedure
  • Is This A Realistic Parenting Tactic?

Dear Novelists: I love you. Keep writing, and also living.