Archive for January, 2013|Monthly archive page

Amy Hempel, on writing

In lines worth underlining, quotes about writing, reading, storytelling, words, writing on January 27, 2013 at 4:23 pm

Not so much a piece of advice as a question to keep in mind, which is the most basic of questions: Why are you telling me this? Someone out there will be asking, and you better have a very compelling answer, or reason.

There are people who have been raised by loving parents to believe that the world awaits their every thought and sentence, and I’m not one of them. So I respond to that. Is this essential?

The question might be, Is this something only you can say—or, only you can say it this way? Is this going to make anyone’s life better, or make anyone’s day better? And I don’t mean the writer’s day.

~ Wise words from an interview with Amy Hempel that I came across online years ago

#writerspace ~ Hemingway’s Key West studio


‘At its worst, it feels like alligator wrestling…’

In quotes about writing, writing on January 2, 2013 at 4:44 pm

Many years ago, I stumbled across an archive of essays written for the New York Times by a series of revered writers; I printed one by Annie Dillard that I especially loved and put it in a writing notebook.

I made a decision in the final days of 2012 to finally polish up my children’s novel manuscript and see if it has ‘legs.’ Coming across the essay again on the first “work day” of 2013 somehow seems meant to be.

A few excerpts of the Dillard essay:

The sensation of writing a book is the sensation of spinning, blinded by love and daring. It is the sensation of a stunt pilot’s turning barrel rolls, or an inchworm’s blind rearing from a stem in search of a route. At its worst, it feels like alligator wrestling, at the level of the sentence.


Why do you never find anything written about that idiosyncratic thought you advert to, about your fascination with something no one else understands? Because it is up to you. There is something you find interesting, for a reason hard to explain. It is hard to explain because you have never read it on any page; there you begin. You were made and set here to give voice to this, your own astonishment.


Write as if you were dying. At the same time, assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients. That is, after all, the case. What would you begin writing if you knew you would die soon? What could you say to a dying person that would not enrage by its triviality?


Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.

Books-served-up-on-a-cake-plate, 2012 Holiday Edition

In books, storytelling on January 1, 2013 at 1:47 am

Last year, I took a decades-old cake plate passed on to me by my mother and piled it high with beautiful books with red or red-and-white spines in celebration of the holidays; on my first try, I realized that this was too much of a good thing, and I added in a few books with striking black, white or gray-hued spines for contrast.

The books-on-a-cake-plate display is becoming a bookish decorating tradition along with our  picture-books-as-art decor. (During the rest of the year, the color scheme is all over the board.)

So which red & white books made the cake plate this year?  And which contrast books? Take a look.



While there are a couple of encore appearances, I tried to put together a new and different lineup for 2012. The stack I pulled from my shelves this year includes grownup novels, kids’ literature, nonfiction … books from years back and books from the past year or so … wildly popular current bestsellers (some I’ve read and others that are on my to-be-read list) as well as flying-under-the-radar titles.

I will know I’m taking this a little too seriously when I begin noting whether the books I’m browsing through at Quail Ridge Books & Music happen to have a lovely red spine.

(One of these days, I’ll snap the photo at just the right time of day to avoid glare and show off each book equally well.)

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the intersection of graphic design + picture books

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