Tag Archives | Writing

Writing Is a Risky, Humiliating Endeavor

A Stipula fountain pen lying on a written piece of paper. By Antonio Litterio via Wikimedia Commons.

A Stipula fountain pen lying on a written piece of paper. By Antonio Litterio via Wikimedia Commons.

I follow the New York Times Opinionator on my Feedly account and this popped up the other day. I thought some of you artist/writer types might find it interesting.

via The New York Times (Please follow the link to read the entire piece):

This essay was born when my ex-wife unfriended me on Facebook. She was angry over my last novel, though to my mind, the resemblances to her and me were superficial. The story — which involves kidnapping, murder, private eyes — was clearly not “about” us. I was shocked and saddened — I’d hoped she would like the book — but this was not the first time I’d had this sort of experience.

My mom had more or less taken ownership of the “Mom” in my first novel, who shared a few of her characteristics, like red hair and a habit of sending notes — but who had some key differences too, like being dead.

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How Dungeons & Dragons Influenced a Generation of Writers

320px-Dice_in_DnD_sessionHey D&D heads, are you writers too? You’re in good company if so, explains Ethan Gilsdorf at the New York Times:

When he was an immigrant boy growing up in New Jersey, the writer Junot Díaz said he felt marginalized. But that feeling was dispelled somewhat in 1981 when he was in sixth grade. He and his buddies, adventuring pals with roots in distant realms — Egypt, Ireland, Cuba and the Dominican Republic — became “totally sucked in,” he said, by a “completely radical concept: role-playing,” in the form of Dungeons & Dragons.

Playing D&D and spinning tales of heroic quests, “we welfare kids could travel,” Mr. Díaz, 45, said in an email interview, “have adventures, succeed, be powerful, triumph, fail and be in ways that would have been impossible in the larger real world.”

“For nerds like us, D&D hit like an extra horizon,” he added. The game functioned as “a sort of storytelling apprenticeship.”

Now the much-played and much-mocked Dungeons & Dragons, the first commercially available role-playing game, has turned 40.

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Do You Know Whether This Was Written by a Human?

Pic: Racco (CC)

Pic: Racco (CC)


I guess we should probably include journalists among those soon to be replaced by robots

Via AlphaGalileo:

A recent study investigates how readers perceive computer-generated news articles.

The advent of new technologies has always spurred questions about changes in journalism – how it is produced and consumed. A recent development which has come to the fore in the digital world is software-generated content. A paper recently published in Journalism Practice investigates how readers perceive automatically produced news articles vs. articles which have been written by a journalist.

The study, undertaken by Christer Clerwall of Karlstad University in Sweden, was conducted by presenting readers with different articles written by either journalists or computers. The readers were then asked to answer questions about how they perceived each article – e.g. the overall quality, credibility, objectivity.

The results suggest that the journalist-authored content was observed to be coherent, well-written and pleasant to read.

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Laughing into Darkness: Why No Mark Twain for Our Second Gilded Age?

Image: Public Domain

Image: Public Domain

Lewis H. Lapham writes, via Tomgram:

Twain for as long as I’ve known him has been true to his word, and so I’m careful never to find myself too far out of his reach. The Library of America volumes of his Collected Tales, Sketches, Speeches, and Essays (1852–1910) stand behind my desk on a shelf with the dictionaries and the atlas. On days when the news both foreign and domestic is moving briskly from bad to worse, I look to one or another of Twain’s jests to spring the trap or lower a rope, to summon, as he is in the habit of doing, a blast of laughter to blow away the “peacock shams” of the world’s “colossal humbug.”

Laughter was Twain’s stock in trade, and for 30 years as bestselling author and star attraction on America’s late-nineteenth-century lecture stage, he produced it in sufficient quantity to make bearable the acquaintance with grief that he knew to be generously distributed among all present in the Boston Lyceum or a Tennessee saloon, in a Newport drawing room as in a Nevada brothel.

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Engaging In Expressive Writing Makes Physical Wounds Heal Faster

physical woundsShould your doctor be giving you books of poetry? Expressing your emotions via writing literally makes your body heal more quickly, a new University of Auckland study suggests. Via PubMed:

In this randomized controlled trial, 49 healthy older adults were assigned to write for 20 minutes a day either about upsetting life events (Expressive Writing) or about daily activities (Time Management) for 3 consecutive days.

Two weeks postwriting, 4-mm punch biopsy wounds were created on the inner, upper arm. Wounds were photographed routinely for 21 days to monitor wound reepithelialization.

Participants in the Expressive Writing group had a greater proportion of fully reepithelialized wounds at Day 11 postbiopsy compared with the Time Management group, with 76.2% versus 42.1% healed.

This study extends previous research by showing that expressive writing can improve wound healing in older adults and women. Future research is needed to better understand the underlying cognitive, psychosocial, and biological mechanisms contributing to improved wound healing from these simple, yet effective, writing exercises.

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Peter Bebergal Interviews Alan Moore on Creativity, Magic and More

2158181-alan_mooreToo Much to Dream author Peter Bebergal recently interviewed legendary comic book author and practicing magician Alan Moore for The Believer magazine. I think that disinfonauts will find it an entertaining read.

The Believer:

BLVR: Where do you think human consciousness fits into that? Is it somehow separate from it?

AM: If time is an illusion, then all movement and change are also illusions. So the only thing that gives us the illusion of movement and change and events and time is the fact that our consciousness is moving through this mass along the time axis. If you imagine it as a strip of celluloid, each of those individual cells is motionless. If they each represent a moment, they’re unchanging. They’re not going anywhere, but as the projector beam of our consciousness passes across them, it provides the illusion of movement, and narrative and cause and effect and circumstances.

BLVR: You also believe that we can change the aperture of that projector through various processes like magic, or other ways of shaping consciousness.

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A Question of Art, Aesthetic, and a Body of Work

From an interview with The Dharma of Don, talking with fellow indie author and artist Curcio about the ins and outs of writing, publishing, collaborative artwork and art collectives, and everything in-between!

Don: The Words of Traitors is published under Mythos Media which is your imprint, if I am not mistaken. What other houses have you published under, and have you succeeded with Mythos Media where you felt you struggled with branding under your own name?

James: My first book was released through New Falcon Press, who published Timothy Leary, Robert Anton Wilson, Aleister Crowley, Israel Regardi — it was because of them I think that I got branded an “occult author” although that isn’t really entirely accurate. I’ve worked on several books since then that have been released by Weaponized, which is a UK based imprint.

You will see most of those books also on the Mythos Media website.… Read the rest

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Letter from North County Jail

Picture: Dylan Oliphant (CC)

From Divided Core:

A writer friend of mine is serving some time in a Northern California jail and wrote an insightful letter which sheds some light on his experience behind bars.   With his permission, I’ve transcribed his letter to share with others.  For those who are interested, here’s what he wrote:

Dear Aaron,

Thank you for the reading material – the books made it in, but the pornographic magazines, I am told, did not get past screening and were confiscated by the guards (I suspect they’ll be making paper mache of those pages forthwith).  Good show though; The Thought Gang will suffice for now.

Here at the North County Detention Facility there is an extensive library for the inmates in our compound: Building 101, which houses around 200 people.  We share a large “day-room” with tables, games, and televisions.  There are ten dorms that sleep roughly twelve people each, and we are generally free to move from our bunks to and from the day-room, or into the sunny courtyard as we please.  “The Farm,” as some here call it, is summer camp compared to where I was confined three days ago.

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A Future Of Fewer Words

Today we use an ever-shrinking pool of shorter, simpler words as image-based communication eats up word-based language. Not long from now, we’ll be grunting and sending each other extremely complicated emoticons. Lifeboat writes:

An ongoing “survival of the fittest” may lead to continuing expansion of image-based communications and the extinction of more than half the world’s languages by this century’s end. Not only is the world using fewer languages, but also fewer words. Consider the rich vocabulary and complex sentence constructions in extemporaneous arguments of politicians in earlier centuries against the slick, simplistic sound bites of contemporary times.

The cell phone has become a ubiquitous, all-purpose communications tool. However, its small keyboard and tiny screen limit the complexity, type, and length of written messages. Because no sane person wants to read streams of six-point font on a three-inch video screen, phones today are built with menus of images up to the presentation point of the messages themselves.

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