In this instance, it’s J.K. Rowling’s plot spreadsheet for “The Order of the Phoenix”. All you need is a pen and a piece of paper, people!
Nice work. And good writing always sounds better when read aloud.
And before anyone says “It’s not really him!” I know.
John Irving has long been one of my favorite writers. So many great books, thick and juicy with character and story and quirkiness. Really enjoyed this 36 minute talk with him on the Big Think, and somehow finding out he writes the first draft in longhand too makes me happy inside. Watch it all in one go, or in bite sized pieces.
I keep forgetting to post these. I love this project by spacesick, where he takes a movie and creates an old style book cover out of it. Minimalist awesomeness. Check out the full series in one scrollable piece of lovely goo right here. You can even request the next one, if you like.
Oh, so that’s how it’s done.
“First, the writer creates the text. This will take anywhere from 10 to 30 years.”
I still have plenty of time!
Via Boing Boing
This lovely little film has been made for the 25th anniversary of the 4th Estate’s publishing group. You can thank Apt studio (working with Asylum Films) for the awesomeness. You can also see footage of the creation here.
From the 5th Estate blog:
Over two weeks, more than twenty animators and model-makers worked with over 1,000 books to build a world, and an everycity made from the world’s literature. More here
I’m currently reading The War of Art on the recommendation of a co-freelancer I met. It’s a quick read – seriously, I got halfway through riding the subway this morning – and a kind of procrastinatory kick in the pants. ‘Cause guess what, I’m a world-class procrastinator and my novel ain’t writing itself. Sadly. Although, I could look at myself reading this book and say that’s an act of procrastination in itself, but let’s not look at these things too closely.
This particular bit stuck out this morning:
What does Resistance feel like?
First, unhappiness. We feel like hell. A low-grade misery pervades everything. We’re bored, we’re restless. We can’t get no satisfaction. There’s guilt but we can’t put our finger on the source. We want to go back to bed; we want to get up and party. We feel unloved and unlovable. We’re disgusted. We hate our lives. We hate ourselves.
Unalleviated, Resistance mounts to a pitch that becomes unendurable. At this point vices kick in. Dope, adultery, web surfing.
Beyond that, Resistance becomes clinical. Depression, aggression, dysfunction. Then actual crime and physical self-destruction.
Sounds like life, I know. It isn’t. It’s Resistance.
What makes it tricky is that we live in a consumer culture that’s acutely aware of this unhappiness and has mass produced all its profit-seeking artillery to exploit it. By selling us products, a drug, a distraction, John Lennon once wrote:
Well you think you’re so clever
and classless and free
But you’re all fucking peasants
As far as I can see
As artists and professionals is our obligation to enact our own internal revolution, a private insurrection inside our own skulls. In this uprising we free ourselves from the tyranny of advertising, movies, video games, magazines, TV, and MTV by which we have been hypnotized from the cradle. We unplug ourselves from the grid by recognizing that we will never cure our restlessness by contributing our disposable income to the bottom line of Bullshit, Inc., but only by doing our work.
Last week, I made a half-baked decision to declare the Thanksgiving Break (5 days starting Thursday) “Noodle’s Faff Free Festival“. Roughly explained, it is 5 days where all faffing about activities are banned, and writing is mandatory. You will not see me online, you will not see me racking up gamer points on X-box, and I will not see myself sitting in front of the idiot box watching “While you were Sleeping” for the umpteenth time (a phenomenon I have dubbed “Hypno-Bullockism i.e. the inability to resist the Sandra Bullock movies “While you were Sleeping” and “Miss Congeniality”, even though you don’t think they’re particularly good.)
This decision came shortly after receiving this charming DIY postcard from Matt (top flipped for posting purposes, he did design it correctly). I think the cosmos is trying to tell me something about…I dunno. Putting my arse in a seat and writing. What thing are you avoiding by consuming, procrastinating and generally giving in to Resistance?
So, as you might know, I’ve taken to freelancing in order to work on my novel more this year. What you might not know is that I’ve already written two. I call these my “bottom drawer books.” You can work out why.
The other day, I read this nugget of advice from Zadie Smith:
When you finish your novel, if money is not a desperate priority, if you do not need to sell it at once or be published that very second – put it in a drawer. For as long as you can manage. A year of more is ideal – but even three months will do. Step away from the vehicle. The secret to editing your work is simple: you need to become its reader instead of its writer. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat backstage with a line of novelists at some festival, all of us with red pens in hand, frantically editing our published novels into fit form so that we might go on stage and read from them. It’s an unfortunate thing, but it turns out that the perfect state of mind to edit your novel is two years after it’s published, ten minutes before you go on stage at a literary festival. At that moment every redundant phrase, each show-off, pointless metaphor, all of the pieces of dead wood, stupidity, vanity, and tedium are distressingly obvious to you.
Well, money is always a desperate priority for me, but I know it’s probably never going to come from novel writing anyway, so I haven’t hung my hat on that. But let’s focus on this bit:
put it in a drawer. For as long as you can manage.
It occurs to me that I may be taking this advice to the edge of its meaning. One of these books has been in the bottom drawer since 1992. But I’m ok with that, since it was a first time effort and kinda shitty, angsty, first-time novelist pap. It’s actually more of “back of the bottom drawer behind the balled-up socks” book. The second book has been in there since ’93. I must like it a little better, since over the years I’ve fiddled with it from time to time. But still, I haven’t looked at that book in about 7 years.
But two things astound me about this.
1. I wrote two books
2. I wrote these two books in a very short time. The first took me 6 months, the second, about the same.
Compare that to now. In the last six months, I’ve struggled to get a coherent flow going at all. I write in blobs, like red wine stains on a cream tablecloth. Nothing is connected yet, but at least it’s all in the same place and all the stains are the same vintage. But what happened to that drive and the structure? (The image above is actually a fairly detailed plot line for the first book.) Was I so productive back then because I’d finished uni and was dossing about on the dole without a care in the world? Am I so unproductive now because all I think about is how I threw away a job and stress about rent money well into the dark night.
Either way, the above quote gives me hope (and by hope, I mean an excuse. “Yes, I’ve haven’t sent them off to anyone because I’m letting them stew in their own creative juices, aha-ha. Aren’t I so eccentric?”)
But curiosity is getting the better of me about those two books, so much so that I dug through the garage last time I was at my parents and brought them both back to NYC. I want to read them and see if they’re as juvenile and shitty as I remember. They’re sitting on my desk. I’m scared to crack one open and just be a reader.
On a side-note, I also bought the domain bottomdrawerbooks.com. I have a plan…
“But that’s a whole ‘nother year.” Ah, stop your whining, Luke. Any Star Wars fan will tell you that’s soooo not Tatooine. Jackpot, nerds! It’s Mars, baby!
I’ve been meaning to post The Big Picture for a while, and today I’ve finally got my ducks in a row boat and they’re all quacking “stroke” together. It’s an awesome blog that shows you the news through the lens of a camera (without all the extraneous reportage). They pick a story and select the images that prove the old “worth a 1,000 words” thing. The photo above is from Martian Skies. Other features to catch my eye lately – Mississippi Floodwaters in Iowa (the photo below is from that collection), Sidoarjo’s Man-made Mud Volcano, and World Environment Day.
Incidentally, Harvest is When I Need You the Most is the name of a book I saw on Drawn recently. Nine cartoonists take to their drawing boards to pay homage to the original Star Wars trilogy. See who the “harvest 9″ are at the site, and if you’re digging on the Star Wars fan cartoonery, you can order the book from there.