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Writers can now afford butter with their Toast

Contributors to The Toast are paid a flat, one-time fee of $50 on publication. No further compensation is due, even if The Toast re-publishes the contribution. The Toast also reserves the right to edit at will.
These aren't ideal provisions, but they're not uncommon. What is uncommon: contributors must hand over copyright and waive all moral rights (including the right of attribution).
MeFi favourite The Toast came under fire on Tuesday, as according to Writer Beware, it turned out they paid their contributors a flat $50 fee for all rights in perpetuity. This is not surprising behaviour for an internet content farm, but what may be surprising was the resolution. [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on Dec 18, 2014 - 96 comments

A dark reimagining of a Hollywood list

The 2014 Black List Has been announced - the top unproduced scripts of the year, according to Hollywood insiders. Excited film buffs will be scouring the list for overlooked gems and masterpieces that might have been, but why not go a different route? The Ten Worst Sounding Black List Scripts.
posted by Artw on Dec 16, 2014 - 136 comments

Nobel lecture by Patrick Modiano

Writing is a strange and solitary activity. There are dispiriting times when you start working on the first few pages of a novel. Every day, you have the feeling you are on the wrong track. This creates a strong urge to go back and follow a different path. It is important not to give in to this urge, but to keep going. It is a little like driving a car at night, in winter, on ice, with zero visibility. You have no choice, you cannot go into reverse, you must keep going forward while telling yourself that all will be well when the road becomes more stable and the fog lifts.
—From Patrick Modiano's lecture when receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature [Original French, Swedish and video] which is about cities, old telephone directories but mostly about writing, how to do it and what it's like.
posted by Kattullus on Dec 13, 2014 - 7 comments

Starman

Seeing ‘the Man Who Fell To Earth’ Was One Of The Greatest Experiences Of Philip K. Dick’s Life - The time PKD got really into David Bowie.
posted by Artw on Dec 12, 2014 - 23 comments

linking those behind bars to the outside world

The act of pen-palling mirrors the mindset shift that will be necessary to rethink how our society "does justice" on a much larger scale. My conversations, correspondences, and relationships with prison-torn families have taught me that separation breeds more separation, that the coldness and isolation of prison breed the coldness and isolation of violence. And I think about how the one-on-one relationship, in which the prisoner emerges as a person (with thoughts, a personality, a history, hopes, dreams, nightmares), might serve as a model for the beginnings of a person-based, connection-based justice system.
The Radical Power of a Prison Pen Pal, a longform essay by Maya Schenwar, Editor-in-Chief of Truthout and author of Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn't Work and How We Can Do Better. [more inside]
posted by divined by radio on Dec 12, 2014 - 4 comments

2014: a lot of people on the internet said a lot of things about comics

The Best Comics Commentary of 2014
posted by Artw on Dec 10, 2014 - 36 comments

sweating metaphorical bullets daily in front of my Hermes 2000

William Gibson: how I wrote Neuromancer
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Dec 2, 2014 - 73 comments

scribble scribble *CLICK* scribble scribble *CLICK* scribble *CLICK*

Do you need to get the lead out? Are you having trouble getting to the point? Maybe this post all about the joys of mechanical pencils will help!
  • Dave's Mechanical Pencils is probably the gold lead standard, with reviews and links about everything related to mechanical pencils, leads, erasers, and pencil-related ephemera.
  • Vittorio Villani's Drafting and Mechanical Pencils takes more of an individual collector's approach, with many beauty shots along with the reviews.
  • All jammed up: The Old Geezer offers advice on how to clear a lead jam.
  • Leadhead's Pencil Blog focusses on antique and vintage mechanical pencils. They are works of art themselves, and blogger Jon Veley has even set up an online museum.
  • Leadholder Drafting Pencil Museum hasn't been updated in a while but is an exhaustive collection of lead-related material, including a section on the mechanics of different types of mechanical pencils.
  • If you've only seen one mechanical pencil, it was probably a Scripto.
  • The Pencil Pages is a treasure trove of pencil information and links.
  • Finally, Pencil Revolution (previously) does not limit itself to mechanical pencils but the entire pencil lifestyle. After all, a great pencil needs great paper. (Warning: the links will take you down a time-sucking, pencil, paper, and office-supply rabbit hole.)

posted by Room 641-A on Dec 1, 2014 - 39 comments

Truth is harder to tell than a lie

The habitual liar may be a very honest fellow, and live truly with his wife and friends; while another man who never told a formal falsehood in his life may yet be himself one lie-heart and face, from top to bottom. This is the kind of lie which poisons intimacy. And, vice versa, veracity to sentiment, truth in a relation, truth to your own heart and your friends, never to feign or falsify emotion—that is the truth which makes love possible and mankind happy. Robert Louis Stevenson on truth and writing.
posted by shivohum on Nov 30, 2014 - 5 comments

Thomas King wins Governor-General’s Award for fiction.

Thomas King wins Governor-General’s Award for fiction In February, King won the British Columbia’s National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction for The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America. On Tuesday, he won the Governor-General’s Literary Award for Fiction for The Back of the Turtle, his first novel in 15 years. [more inside]
posted by Nevin on Nov 27, 2014 - 8 comments

You must know thrilling things before you can write about them

I never correct anything and I never go back to what I have written, except to the foot of the last page to see where I have got to. If you once look back, you are lost. How could you have written this drivel? How could you have used "terrible" six times on one page? And so forth. If you interrupt the writing of fast narrative with too much introspection and self-criticism, you will be lucky if you write 500 words a day and you will be disgusted with them into the bargain. A year before his death, James Bond author Ian Fleming explained how to write a thriller.
posted by shivohum on Nov 26, 2014 - 25 comments

"I have decided you are in a goofy state of mind."

"Martha Gellhorn’s pen pals included Eleanor Roosevelt, Maxwell Perkins, H.G. Wells, her husband (later, ex-) Ernest Hemingway, and Peggy Schutze, my maternal grandmother." Author Amy Shearn shares some of the letters her grandmother received from legendary war correspondent Martha Gellhorn with the hope that, "if I studied Martha, the writer who wanted to be a mother, and Peggy, the mother who wanted to be a writer, some golden mean would eventually present itself."
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI on Nov 23, 2014 - 5 comments

"A good story is a good story, period."

Anyway, I had just finished reading a story I thought was really bad; I closed the book and said to myself, “I can do that.” I realized quite a bit later that I had given myself permission to write a bad story, but nevermind. I wrote a story in a notebook, the three-ringer lined paper kind, and I rented a typewriter. At least I knew it had to be typed double space, but that’s all I knew. I had never met a writer and there wasn’t a wealth of how-to books back then. I used the anthology for a clue about where to send the story and came up with Astounding Magazine. I sent off the story, and while I had the rented typewriter I wrote another story in the same notebook, copied it and this time sent it to Amazing. John Campbell at Astounding Magazine sent me a letter of acceptance along with a form to be notarized stating that it was an original story and I was the writer. I had no idea that that was not standard, and followed the instructions, and presently I received a check. I bought the typewriter with it.
For Amazing Stories, R.K. Troughton interviews should be a SFWA grandmaster already Kate Wilhelm, writer & novelist, co-creator of the Milford and Clarion Writing Workshops, designer of the Nebula Award. [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on Nov 22, 2014 - 7 comments

Ursula K. Le Guin on writing and freedom at the National Book Awards

On Wed Nov 19, 2014, in an awards ceremony emceed by Daniel Handler-aka-Lemony Snicket, Ursula K. Le Guin gave "the most ferocious speech ever given at the National Book Awards." Le Guin's acceptance speech for the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters touched on the Amazon vs Hachette throwdown and the practice of art in an age of capitalism. Video. Transcription.
Right now, I think we need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. The profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable; so did the divine right of kings.

posted by spamandkimchi on Nov 21, 2014 - 35 comments

How To Write A Shitty Young Adult Novel

"Books are dead. It's sad, but it's basically true. Sure, you can eke out a decent living if you dedicate yourself to your craft, spend years researching niche topics, and fleshing out the true human characteristics of your characters–that is, if you're extremely lucky and enormously talented. Or you could write a young adult novel."

posted by Jacqueline on Nov 20, 2014 - 126 comments

11/18/99 2:43 a.m. RE: “no offense”.

"The next day, though, I woke up unnerved and dimly remembered getting badgered by Wesleyan after I graduated in 2001, asking me to do something to save the messages after they were transferred onto a web-based system. I typed in “email.wesleyan.edu” and my old username, just to see what would happen. | It opened up with my first guess at a password. Over four thousand emails —including sent mail, drafts, “_pine_interrupted_mail,” something called “dead letter” and another folder called “postponed_msgs”—stared at me. Who were these people? Who was I?" --Every email is a Ghost Story on the Awl.
posted by Potomac Avenue on Nov 18, 2014 - 23 comments

The History Of The New York Times' Style Section

"Despite its youth, the section has a much longer history, one that encompasses the long effort of women in journalism to be taken seriously as reporters and as readers, the development of New Journalism, large-scale social changes that have brought gay culture into the mainstream, shifts in the way news is delivered and consumed, and economic consolidations and disruptions that the section has, sometimes in spite of itself, thoroughly documented and cataloged. The Styles section may well be pretty stupid sometimes. It’s also a richer and more complex entity than any of us would like to believe." - Bonfire Of The Inanities - Jacqui Shine writes a long, detailed history of the New York Times Style Section.
posted by The Whelk on Nov 14, 2014 - 25 comments

Letterboxing

If you compulsively feel compelled tend to edit yourself as you write, you may benefit from ilys. Just enter a target wordcount and tap away. Until you meet your goal, ilys conceals what you've written and prevents you from backspacing. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Nov 13, 2014 - 71 comments

I did a thing on a hill. It was dead and anxious.

Rob Sherman meditates on the connections between writing and games. "This difficulty lies in the very word “games”, this glyph that we all accept to stand for something greater, and its association, in our culture, with another word. Play." [more inside]
posted by Sparx on Nov 8, 2014 - 11 comments

I put my thing down, flip it and reverse it

If you've ever typed anything into a Google Doc, you can now play it back as if it were a movie — like traveling through time to look over your own shoulder as you write.

This is possible because every document written in Google Docs since about May 2010 has a revision history that tracks every change, by every user, with timestamps accurate to the microsecond; these histories are available to anyone with "Edit" permissions; and I have written a piece of software that can find, decode, and rebuild the history for any given document.
James Somers (previously) introduces Draftback. [more inside]
posted by divined by radio on Nov 6, 2014 - 21 comments

Writing People of Color

Writing People of Color (if you happen to be a person of another color), a comic
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Nov 4, 2014 - 125 comments

longer than the Bible and with a better afterlife scenario

Alan Moore's Jerusalem - "The frequently confusing cross-currents of Moore's late work make much more sense, in fact, when one sees them not just as entertainment products but as attempts at building a better reality."
posted by kliuless on Oct 31, 2014 - 31 comments

From a Mefite, Announcing a Compendium of Letter Templates

The Art of Letter Writing investigates The New Century Standard Letter-Writer (1900), a collection of example letters for people to use as templates over the course of one's whole life," from A Clerk Apologizing to His Employers, and A Young Lady Desirous of Securing Farm-House Board, to A Gentleman to a Young Lady Friend of His about a Misunderstanding (from Wondermark)
posted by adrianhon on Oct 28, 2014 - 16 comments

“I wanted this to be the saddest thing I’d ever written,”

Closing a Chapter of a Literary Life [New York Times] Ahead of the American publication of his latest work, “The Book of Strange New Things,” Michel Faber discusses it and why it will be his last novel.
posted by Fizz on Oct 26, 2014 - 10 comments

one of the most boring things in the world is watching a person write

Hayley Campbell: nobody cares about you writing a novel.
posted by MartinWisse on Oct 22, 2014 - 49 comments

Fake deaths, cheap resurrections, and dealing with real grief

William Hughes writes movingly about the death of his partner and how it has changed how he reacts to the portrayal of death and resurrection in media.
posted by Cannon Fodder on Oct 20, 2014 - 15 comments

An enthusiastic public reading journal.....

In Praise of Anne Rice's Amazon Reviews
posted by The Whelk on Oct 19, 2014 - 30 comments

Always remember it is YOUR project and YOUR paper and YOUR thesis.

"As the academic year begins again, new PhD students across the country (and further) are slowly settling into their fresh surroundings. I stayed at the same university when I made the switch to postgraduate research but I still remember feeling quite lost at the start, not knowing what to do or where to be. I’m now entering the final year of my studies and have (I hope) picked up some useful knowledge along the way.

"So I’ll cut right to the point: below is a list of handy tips, tricks, general advice and things I wish I knew when I started my PhD. The list was put together from chats with other PhD friends of mine, but is by no means exhaustive (nor is it in any particular order, though it did get quite long…). Hopefully it will help somebody. Please share your comments at the bottom if you have things to add – the more the merrier." Things I wish I knew when I started my PhD… from Between a rock and a hard place.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Oct 18, 2014 - 59 comments

Some people are so poor

When I knew the Clippers were drafting me, the first thing I did was type Donald Sterling’s name into Google. The first hit that came up was “Donald Sterling is a racist.” I read an article on how he didn’t want minorities to live in his apartment buildings. My first thought was, Wow this guy is really, really a racist … how is he an owner of an NBA team? My second thought was, Wow, these articles are from 2003 and 2008. I guess everybody already knows about this stuff and just doesn’t care. As players, we’re not supposed to really care about anything but basketball. We’re just supposed to perform. To be honest, I didn’t ever really think about bringing up Sterling’s past. What was I supposed to do? Just picture me at the press conference my rookie year. “Uh … hey, guys, before we talk about today’s game, did you happen to see that investigative report on my owner?” -- The Boss. An Essay about working for the NBA, by Blake Griffin. [more inside]
posted by Potomac Avenue on Oct 16, 2014 - 33 comments

When Science Fiction Grew Up

How renegade sci-fi writers of the 1960s paved the way for today's blending of literary and genre fiction [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Oct 15, 2014 - 34 comments

I spent 10 years doing New York all wrong

Adelle Waldman, author of The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., was a lonely aspiring writer in New York, generally unhappy. Then she moved to Brooklyn and found that community made all the difference.
posted by shivohum on Oct 13, 2014 - 16 comments

behind-the-scenes of nonfiction longform pieces

annotating Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah's profile of Dave Chappelle, "If He Hollers Let Him Go" [more inside]
posted by flex on Oct 10, 2014 - 8 comments

Find Your Beach

"Here the focus is narrow, almost obsessive. Everything that is not absolutely necessary to your happiness has been removed from the visual horizon. The dream is not only of happiness, but of happiness conceived in perfect isolation. Find your beach in the middle of the city." [more inside]
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Oct 10, 2014 - 15 comments

The Price of Black Ambition

2014 might well be "the year of Roxane Gay," but even as Ms. Gay experiences unprecedented personal success, the price of black ambition is never far from her mind.
I am thinking about success, ambition, and blackness and how breaking through while black is tempered by so much burden. Nothing exemplifies black success and ambition like Black History Month, a celebratory month I've come to dread as a time when people take an uncanny interest in sharing black-history facts with me to show how they are not racist. It's the month where we segregate some of history's most significant contributors into black history instead of fully integrating them into American history. Each February, we hold up civil-rights heroes and the black innovators and writers and artists who have made so much possible for this generation. We say, look at what the best of us have achieved. We conjure W. E. B. Du Bois, who once wrote, "The Negro race, like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men." We ask much of our exceptional men and women. We must be exceptional if we are to be anything at all.
[more inside]
posted by divined by radio on Oct 9, 2014 - 4 comments

"Author jumps up and down with joy when book does arrive"

A charming infographic on how publishing works (according to Floris Books). Via. [more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Oct 3, 2014 - 25 comments

“There is such a thing as the courage in remaining baffled.”

Donald Antrim and the Art of Anxiety by John Jeremiah Sullivan [New York Times]
posted by Fizz on Oct 1, 2014 - 10 comments

'the jingle allegedly contained a grammatical error.'

Why Academic Writing Stinks, by Steven Pinker
The curse of knowledge is a major reason that good scholars write bad prose. It simply doesn’t occur to them that their readers don’t know what they know—that those readers haven’t mastered the patois or can’t divine the missing steps that seem too obvious to mention or have no way to visualize an event that to the writer is as clear as day. And so they don’t bother to explain the jargon or spell out the logic or supply the necessary detail. Obviously, scholars cannot avoid technical terms altogether. But a surprising amount of jargon can simply be banished, and no one will be the worse for it.
Pinker's new book, a style guide, The Sense of the Style, has ten grammar rules it's OK to break (sometimes). He talks to Edge on Writing in the 21st Century, which includes the occasional fMRI.
posted by the man of twists and turns on Oct 1, 2014 - 67 comments

All aboard.

Meet the 24 writers chosen for the Amtrak Residency program (previously!). [more inside]
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Sep 24, 2014 - 43 comments

it was the year my life was saved

I had a stroke at 33—On New Year’s Eve 2007, a clot blocked one half of my brain from the other. My reality would never be the same again. [more inside]
posted by and they trembled before her fury on Sep 22, 2014 - 23 comments

The point is that I am in here, somewhere: cogito ergo sum.

"Let’s note that I write this while experiencing psychosis, and that much of this has been written during a strain of psychosis known as Cotard’s delusion, in which the patient believes that she is dead. What the writer’s confused state means to either of us is not beside the point, because it is the point. The point is that I am in here, somewhere: cogito ergo sum." (via)
posted by hat_eater on Sep 16, 2014 - 20 comments

"He was quite helpful, but then I trusted him too much."

Lydia Davis on Madame Bovary, Nabokov's Marginalia, and Translation: [YouTube] In this video from the Center for the Art of Translation, author and translator Lydia Davis discusses how she used Nabokov's margin notes from his edition of Madame Bovary to aid her own translation. She also discusses in-depth translation choices that she made. A full audio recording of this event can be hard on the Center's website.
posted by Fizz on Sep 15, 2014 - 9 comments

I’m not broken and neither are you.

The thing about ableism is that it’s everywhere, and it’s incredibly common, and we don’t even realize it. It’s in the books we read, and in our daily lives. Ableism is that belief that everyone who is able-bodied is “normal” and everyone else is abnormal. Abelism is probably one of the most common kinds of –ism’s, and it rarely gets talked about.
The language of disability and why it matters.
posted by MartinWisse on Sep 15, 2014 - 62 comments

"'The family division is rooted in the same ground as fiction..."

Ian McEwan: the law versus religious belief. [The Guardian]
The conjoined twins who would die without medical intervention, a boy who refused blood transfusions on religious grounds…Ian McEwan on the stories from the family courts that inspired his latest novel.
[more inside]
posted by Fizz on Sep 13, 2014 - 10 comments

Time erases everything

It’s a Secret: My Time with Charles Sobhraj, the Bikini Killer by the grate Gary Indiana.
posted by Potomac Avenue on Sep 11, 2014 - 20 comments

the sea is a cup of death and the land is a stained altar stone

I don't know what it is about fecundity that so appalls. I suppose it is the teeming evidence that birth and growth, which we value, are ubiquitous and blind, that life itself is so astonishingly cheap, that nature is as careless as it is bountiful, and that with extravagance goes a crushing waste that will one day include our own cheap lives. Every glistening egg is a memento mori.
Annie Dillard ponders the disquieting thrall of the circle of life in her November 1973 essay for The Atlantic: The Force That Drives the Flower. [more inside]
posted by divined by radio on Sep 11, 2014 - 15 comments

the birth of the idea to make himself a character writing a fake memoir

The Pale King drafts: The David Foster Wallace archive at the Harry Ransom Center UT has made some documents from The Pale King accessible online, including a few pages of his workbook, handwritten drafts, and typed edits. [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Sep 10, 2014 - 23 comments

The Sexual Outlaw At 83

83 year old Chicano author John Rechy (City Of Night, The Sexual Outlaw, Rushes) talks to Lambda Literary about gay assimilation, being mistaken for white, melding truth and fiction, the post-Stonewall peroid, and hating the word 'queer.'
posted by The Whelk on Sep 10, 2014 - 20 comments

Writing with Colour

Writing with Color, a blog dedicated to writing and resources centered on cultural and ethnic diversity. The FAQ.
posted by MartinWisse on Sep 6, 2014 - 3 comments

Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids

"Since 2007, Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids has invited brave Canadians to read their childhood and teenage writing… out loud in front of an audience." This summer, CBC recorded and broadcast a 10-date tour. Episodes. Podcast.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle on Sep 5, 2014 - 15 comments

[Writing] fiction is much closer to a sort of dreaming

Marilynne Robinson discusses her novels, fiction, and religion at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University in 2009.
Dr. Robinson talks about writing and the Middle West at the Iowa Writers' Workshop.
posted by OmieWise on Sep 5, 2014 - 7 comments

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