Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life might well be the only book in history to draw comparisons between creative writers and stunt pilots. At Brain Pickings, Maria Popova calls attention to a description of Dave Rahm, the real-life pilot who inspired Dillard’s analogy.
David Carr takes a look at The Atavist, whose team of multimedia gurus has won the attention (and seed funding) of Google founder Eric Schmidt. Of course, the outfit’s also been receiving generous attention for their quality work, too. (I mentioned them a few months ago.) More recently, however, certain scientific circles have fawned over the subject of their story The Electric Mind, which tracks one paralyzed woman and the scientists who developed the BrainGate technology which eventually got her moving… robotically.
What’s the deal with all of the novels about famous writers? Perhaps it has to do with the fact that, according to Heller McAlpin at The Literary Hub, “there’s a special frisson of pleasure in reading about writers’ early struggles when you know what the future holds for them—which in the case of most of these authors is posthumous literary acclaim beyond their wildest dreams.”
“He sat on a shelf of our one-roomed apartment for a while, and then one day when I was sitting in front of my typewriter staring at a blank sheet of paper wondering what to write, I idly tapped out the words ‘Mr. and Mrs. Brown first met Paddington on a railway platform. In fact, that was how he came to have such an unusual name for a bear, for Paddington was the name of the station.’ It was a simple act, and in terms of deathless prose, not exactly earth shattering, but it was to change my life considerably. … Without intending it, I had become a children’s author.” Michael Bond, creator of the Paddington Bear series, has died at 91, reports NPR. We’d like to think that Bond might have appreciated our own Jacob Lambert‘s series, “Are Picture Books Leading Children Astray?” – in particular this entry questioning the moral fiber of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.
“The terrible thing is that the reality behind these words depends ultimately on what the human being (meaning every single one of us) believes to be real. The terrible thing is that the reality behind all these words depends on choices one has got to make, for ever and ever and ever, every day.” James Baldwin on the artist’s struggle for “integrity.” Here’s a bonus piece from The Millions on Baldwin, race, and fatherhood.
“You can only advocate for yourself when you know what it is you want from the experience. You’d be surprised by how many people go into this process and are unclear about what they hope to get out of it.” Over at the Amazon Author Insights blog, Katrin Schumann offers a checklist of seven tips to survive submitting your writing to editors, including this note about articulating your goals beforehand. (Ed. note: Amazon helps us pay the bills around here!)
In the Times, Virginia Heffernan bemoans how technology and the economic struggles of the publishing industry are leading to an increasing number of typos in books. However: “The Pollyannish upside to writerly inattention and cutbacks in publishing, then, is that readers sometimes see more of the human writer, and less buff and polish.”