28 April 2014

imaginary syllabus: California as Eden

I'm reading Wallace Stegner's All the Little Live Things right now (and will write more about it soon, I hope) and I can't help but make connections between it and two books I read earlier this year. I do this a lot and I'm sure I'm not the only one who does this, as in a sense, that's a part of reading, making connections between the text and all the things that inform our lives. I often think, ah! Someone should teach this book with that one, and that one.

So, I'm going to start writing these down here, because why not. And if you have anything you'd add to the list, please let me know. I'm not nearly as well-read as I'd like to be, so please help open it up for me.

Reading List for California as Eden found and lost
All the Little Live Things by Wallace Stegner
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Blue Nights by Joan Didion
Surfwise by Doug Pray

That's a pretty white list. What else would you add?

22 April 2014

"creative recklessness is what it takes to be an artist"

"The freedom and creativity of that early life forms part of her theory about why there are fewer female than male choreographers in the ballet world. 'Things have changed a lot now but I think until recently, for a young boy to make a choice to be a dancer already takes a kind of courage and recklessness. It is easy for a girl to grow up in ballet and there is nothing she necessarily has to fight for or defend or endure in that journey. They require humility, obedience and blinkered vision and discipline, whereas a boy has to be really strong. To be able to take risks and to have this kind of creative recklessness is what it takes to be an artist, and you are not going to find that in many of the women who have gone through ballet school.'"

from an interview with Crystal Pite in The Telegraph

18 April 2014

"the prevailing metaphor for women of my generation has failure built into it"

"'I think that’s not even to be wondered at,' he said. If you have a creative life, you can only do so much, he explained—something he, too, had had to come to terms with. 'If you give it in one place, it has to be taken away from another.'

Maxwell’s response to my puzzlement was so matter-of-fact that I didn’t realize until later that he hadn’t really explained the contradiction—he had just restated it as a fact of life. But that was the whole point: we were looking at the same thing in different ways, as men and women have been brought up to do. Men tend to see their lives, regardless of the balance of the various parts, as a unified whole, but the prevailing metaphor for women of my generation has failure built into it: we are said to “juggle” the various parts of our lives, and the only possible outcome if we concentrate on one ball in particular is that we drop the others. But this is not how Katharine White saw her life—partly because she could afford not to, by hiring people to juggle for her, but mainly because she just didn’t think that way. When I started looking at her life as she looked at it—and as she lived it—it suddenly seemed all of a piece."

from Lady With a Pencil by Nancy Franklin, an article about Katharine White, The New Yorker's fiction editor from 1925-1960

11 April 2014

doing the work

I've been writing. Like really writing. Not editing, not doing research, not answering emails or hustling or blogging. I'm on a spurt and it's been great. I'm hoping to keep my head down and the eye on the prize (a finished first draft) by the time the residency is over. If I don't get distracted, it will happen.

Strangely, I have to thank the conversation I've posted below. Out of all the many books these women have written, I've only read Elizabeth Gilbert's most recent, The Signature of All Things (which I absolutely loved). I love how strong these women are, their friendship, and how they treat writing as work and just get it done.

Now I need to read Ann Patchett and more of Elizabeth Gilbert. If you can suggest which of her fiction I should start with, I'd be grateful. (I do plan on reading her This is a Story of a Happy Marriage soon.)

If you haven't watched this conversation, please take the time to. It's inspiring and entertaining.