“There must be a cat. It must purr constantly.” Writers often have odd routines before they start writing. At McSweeney’s, John Babbott gives his outrageous demands. Pair with: Our piece on our quirky writing habitats and habits.
Kickstarters for creative projects run the gamut from endeavors like Star Citizen to requests for food or rent money to let a writer finish a novel. In between those extremes is this, a charmingly eccentric children’s book titled Pete Peanut and the Trouble with Birthdays, which needs help covering the costs of its ambitious design. You can also buy tailor-made birthday invitations or the title character’s own furniture.
For the most part, Alexis de Tocqueville had good things to say about the young United States in his book Democracy in America, which is probably why we tend to forget that he thought Americans weren’t funny. What de Tocqueville missed, according to a new history of American humor, is the extent to which American funniness emerged from subversive groups of outsiders. In Bookforum, Ben Schwartz takes stock of the arguments in American Fun.
In the Winter 2013 issue of The Paris Review, Kevin Prufer published a poem, “How He Loved Them,” that tackled the aftermath of a car bomb explosion outside of a courthouse. On the magazine’s blog, Robyn Creswell interviews Prufer, who laments that “somehow, when we enter the territory of politics, we expect our poems to shill for votes, to argue strongly for particular beliefs.” (He also has a new book out.)
“They say ‘kill your darlings,’ but I think darlings are your voice — your favorite parts, the parts you’d admire even if you didn’t write them. Why destroy what you love? If you feel that strongly about something you’ve written, pay attention!” Elisa Gabbert pens Electric Literature‘s “Blunt Instrument” column, which this month involves how to find one’s style as a writer. And for more scrivening advice, see our own columnists Swarm & Spark on the best way to seek feedback on your work,sending a memoir into the world, and whether writing a novel will jeopardize your mental health.