Monday, September 29, 2008

Orphan Mail

You run an errand at the post office and, on your way out, notice an unattended little stack of envelopes on a side counter in the lobby. They're obviously forgotten, so you take a peek: the first looks like a credit card payment; the others are a utility payment and something to the Disabled American Vets. One has a stamp; the other two don’t have postage.

You look around, see no one, and consider taking them to one of the clerks at the counter. Instead, you pull out your new roll of stamps and, as a little pay-it-forward courtesy, affix postage and drop the envelopes in the mail slot.

Oops, bad idea. Very bad idea.

What’s the story?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Banned Books Week

The 27th annual American Library Association (ALA)-sponsored Banned Books Week begins Saturday, September 27 and extends through October 4.

To commemorate, I'll be reading the frequently challenged I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou ... and reading it in public as much as possible.

You might have some banned (or more likely, today, challenged) books among your own to-be-reads (or to-be-rereads). In addition to the ALA lists, take a look at the LibraryThing member project, BannedBooksLibrary -- click on See Library to browse its catalogue of more than 500 titles. Or browse at the University of Pennsylvania's Banned Books Online, a source for books that have been banned somewhere, at some point -- but are now freely and digitally available. (I’ve downloaded Jack London’s Call of the Wild and might get to it next week, too.)

What banned or challenged book are you going to read next week?

Tote bag available at the ALA Store.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Book Horror

From a post in an online forum:

Right at the moment, while I'm having my [apartment] painted, I have many boxes of books stored in the little bathroom [...] in the shower stall. I live in fear that somehow that shower is going to come on and drench my books.
Go ahead, writers -- be Stephen King.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Basics

I keep returning to a certain web space -- the writer's section at author Meg Waite Clayton's website. But I don't understand why. What draws me to a space for beginning writers? Haven't I internalized that material, and more, in these years of writing?

So I shrug it off ... and then visit again, and shrug.

And visit.

Until, finally, I pay real attention to the words in that first box on the screen. And I'm flooded with the sense of freedom and optimism I felt as a beginning writer: that writing can be simple ("Open a journal or your computer and start writing") and that writing can be fun ("What have you got to lose?").

Lesson (re)learned. And, periodically, reinforced through Meg's blog, 1st Books: Stories of How Writers Get Started (see blogroll).

Monday, September 1, 2008

Second in a Series...

...of writerly Labor Day observations, this one prompted by my feeling a bit tucked away from "real life," especially as it relates to "real work."

It's from John Steinbeck's Journal of a Novel, the collected daily letters he wrote to his editor while drafting East of Eden:
Writing is a very silly business at best. There is a certain ridiculousness about putting down a picture of life. And to add to the joke -- one must withdraw for a time from life in order to set down that picture. And third one must distort one's own way of life in order in some sense to simulate the normal in other lives. Having gone through all of this nonsense, what emerges may well be the palest of reflections.