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Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman 1997 essay on the myth of artistic inspiration
posted by Pretty_Generic on Jul 19, 2005 - 26 comments

Frank Herbert interview from 1969

Frank and Beverly Herbert interview from 1969 on the first Dune books. In a recent AskMe thread, many respondents cited Dune as a favorite science fiction novel. An almost complete (missing one page) 1969 interview with the author and his wife has surfaced. Enjoy. [Tip of the hat to Monkeyfilter]
posted by mojohand on Jul 13, 2005 - 36 comments

Language Is a Virus

Language Is a Virus
posted by srboisvert on Jul 8, 2005 - 30 comments

No, J.J., it's later than you think...

The Sweet Smell of Success*. North by Northwest. The Comedian. Sabrina. The King and I. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. The Sound of Music. West Side Story. Somebody Up There Likes Me... What do they have in common? Their screenplays all passed through the typewriter of Academy Award-winning (and 6-time nominee) Ernest Lehman, who died Saturday of a heart attack. He was 89. * html screenplay [via The Screenwriting Life]
posted by dobbs on Jul 6, 2005 - 12 comments

The Illuminated Middle Ages

The Illuminated Middle Ages database presents several hundred recently digitized illuminated texts from French national library collections.This web site gives access to the entire database. Only a portion of the full collection has been translated into English for the web site, but visitors may also view the French-language galleries in the site, where a dozen texts from each of the ten themes are presented daily. You are sure to enjoy this collection of breathtaking texts dating from the year 500 through the 1400s.
posted by hortense on Jun 9, 2005 - 19 comments

Speechifying

Do you know your rhetoric? You can hear how it is used in the top 100 American speeches of all time, 63 of which have the original audio recordings! (prev.) The list has some odd omissions, such as the Gettysburg Address (and here in convenient presentation form) and non-American speakers like Churchill, so this shorter international list may be useful. While the slow decline in the quality of presidential addresses is much lamented, scriptwriters are stepping up, see for example, top movie speeches of all time ("Smells like victory" beats "You can't handle the truth"). So, MeFiers, do any of these still inspire, or is rhetoric dead?
posted by blahblahblah on May 24, 2005 - 31 comments

William Gedney, photographer

What Was True. From the mid 1950s through the early 1980s, William Gedney (1932-1989) photographed throughout the United States, in India, and in Europe, and filling notebook after notebook with his observations. From the commerce of the street outside his Brooklyn apartment to the daily chores of unemployed coal miners, from the lifestyle of hippies in Haight-Ashbury to the sacred rituals of Hindu worshippers, Gedney was able to record the lives of others with clarity and poignancy. Gedney's America is a nation of averted eyes, and broken automobiles, and restlessness, a place Edward Hopper would recognize, but so, also, Walt Whitman.
posted by matteo on Apr 27, 2005 - 11 comments

H.P. Lovecraft

"It is here, however -- perhaps 50 pages into this 800-plus page anthology -- that something begins to shift, and what was supposed to be sublime (but is actually ridiculous) becomes something that was supposed to be ridiculous, but is actually sublime."
Why H.P. Lovecraft is scary after all.
posted by Tlogmer on Apr 19, 2005 - 40 comments

How did I get here, Sarah?

How did I get here, Sarah?
posted by Tlogmer on Mar 31, 2005 - 25 comments

Verne's Cerntury

Mythmaker of the Machine Age. In the statue erected above his grave in Amiens, in Picardy, Jules Verne, who died exactly 100 years ago, resembles God. He is, after all, the second-most-translated author on earth, after Agatha Christie. To celebrate the anniversary, there's a Verne exhibition at the Maritime Museum in Paris, one of a series of events from Paris to the western city of Nantes, where Verne was born on Feb. 8, 1828, to the northern town of Amiens, where he died on March 24, 1905. His many fans, some of them quite famous, will be treated to exhibits, concerts, films and shows in Verne's honor. “Underground City”, a lost classic written by Verne and never before published unabridged in English, emerges this month in not one but two new unique editions.
100 years later, questions remain about his life: Why did he have two homes in Amiens? Why did he burn all his private papers? Why was he shot in the foot by his nephew, Gaston, in 1886? Gaston was locked in an asylum for 54 years after his attack on L'Oncle Jules. Was Gaston, in fact, Verne's natural son? More inside.
posted by matteo on Mar 23, 2005 - 8 comments

How to Sell Your Book, CD, or DVD on Amazon

How to Sell Your Book, CD, or DVD on Amazon [From Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools: he has a knack for asking the best questions]
posted by iffley on Feb 28, 2005 - 14 comments

Plan B

Of course, the ultimate problem was that [my] script didn't have an ending. It didn't until I received a fax from the studio instructing me that Jo Maloni would die by being eaten by an alligator. Salon, so, you'll need to jump through hoops. I think it's worth it
posted by delmoi on Feb 23, 2005 - 18 comments

Pens! Pens! Pens!

Penopoly- a fountain pen website. Fans of pens, a history of pens, vintage pens, anatomy of a pen, pens, pens, PENS!
posted by headspace on Feb 9, 2005 - 11 comments

A Grammar Test -

A Grammar Test - How is your grammar? Are you proficient with the English language? Here is a little test of 34 questions to help you check yourself. Or, perhaps grammar doesn't trip your trigger. You may want to try the Punctuation and Capitalization test.
posted by Crackerbelly on Jan 28, 2005 - 50 comments

GUTS

Following up on our discussion of a classic Salinger short story, I find myself surprised - nay, shocked - that nobody has posted a link to the classic short story "Guts" by Chuck Palahniuk.
posted by GriffX on Jan 17, 2005 - 27 comments

This Quantitative Information, it vibrates?

A chapter from Edward Tufte's upcoming book is online. [link contains roughly 2.2 MB of scanned images] Tufte, discussed here previously and author of what could be called the Strunk and White for scientists, statisticians, producers and consumers of visual information, takes a stab at a few issues right up the average MeFite's alley: the 9/11 commission report, fraudulent medical studies, and the rather dubious quantitative work of this unfortunate economist/art historian. For the ShillFilter suspicious, check out some of the great threads that haunt his site.
posted by fatllama on Jan 15, 2005 - 24 comments

Dillard's How-To

Do you want to be a writer? "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?... Every book has an intrinsic impossibility, which its writer discovers as soon as his first excitement dwindles. The problem is structural; it is insoluble; it is why no one can ever write this book. Complex stories, essays and poems have this problem, too -- the prohibitive structural defect the writer wishes he had never noticed. He writes it in spite of that." Luminous and wise writing advice from Annie Dillard, author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, one of the most beautiful books written in the last hundred years (published when Dillard was 29). As a writer myself, I am often asked by younger folk how to become one. Dillard says best what I would tell them.
posted by digaman on Jan 10, 2005 - 67 comments

Wow! All the crusts of bread I can eat!

How much money do first-time novelists make? Author and upcoming first-time novelist Justine Larbalestier is constantly asked by aspiring writers what first-time novelists should expect in advance payment for their beloved texts. So she asked some of her author friends what they got for their first novels. The responses ranged in time from 1962 to 2004. What didn't change in all that time was the basic amount: Not much. Quoth Larbalestier: "The life of a novelist is, financially speaking, a mug's game. Enter at your own peril."
posted by jscalzi on Dec 24, 2004 - 66 comments

At what point did the muse disappear and become replaced by the dramaturg?

At what point did the muse disappear and become replaced by the dramaturg? "Scripts aren't written, they're rewritten", goes the cry from all the script gurus - all the literary managers, editors, producers, dramaturgs - not just in theatre but film, too. Why do they say this? Because their jobs depend on it. If scripts were left alone, what would they do? Dominic Dromgoole writes about playwriting in the UK.
posted by Panfilo on Dec 19, 2004 - 20 comments

The New Games Journalism

The New Games Journalism is a manifesto written earlier this year in an attempt to re-shape the way that video game reviews are written, moving away from a stats-based view (these are the weapons, the graphics quality is X, the A.I. is as good as Y), and toward a more narrative approach. The goal, essentially, should be to convey to the reader what it's actually like to play the game. Be sure to follow the link to "Bow, Nigger" as an example. This review of Eve Online (pdf) is another good example. Are other areas of media criticism in need of a revolution?
posted by mkultra on Dec 9, 2004 - 20 comments

espresso ristretto, ancora!

Espressostories short stories, 25 words or less, short enough to fit into the time it takes to reach the bottom of that bitter little cup. Gory, dramatic and death, nuggets of wisdom and of course love stories.
posted by dabitch on Nov 22, 2004 - 30 comments

Short shorts

Who Wears Short Shorts? Micro Stories and MFA Disgust Being a writer in today's lovely world of fiction and creative nonfiction is like reliving 70's TV hell, where that Nair commercial jingle has been conveniently rewritten into "Who writes short shorts?" Poetic vision rarely shows up. After all, how can you express vision in 100 words? As for plot and character development, give those antiquated goods to Goodwill. All that matters with short shorts is a competent writing style and a desire for lots of publication credits.
posted by ColdChef on Nov 22, 2004 - 33 comments

science

Computer as author. (NYT) "Dave Striver loved the university - its ivy-covered clocktowers, its ancient and sturdy brick, and its sun-splashed verdant greens and eager youth. The university, contrary to popular opinion, is far from free of the stark unforgiving trials of the business world: academia has its own tests, and some are as merciless as any in the marketplace. A prime example is the dissertation defense: to earn the Ph.D., to become a doctor, one must pass an oral examination on one's dissertation. This was a test Professor Edward Hart enjoyed giving." by Brutus.1
posted by semmi on Nov 22, 2004 - 16 comments

"Neil Young is coming by tomorrow for dinner. Time to send out Manolo with a shopping list, as I will be doing the cooking."

Nick Nolte's (baffling) blog.
Then I saw a middle-aged woman wearing a black t-shirt that had the word "Ferrari" printed on it. Maybe it was Ron's influence, but I found the woman mesmerizing and depressing but otherwise encouraging about the direction of human events. What a strange shirt, diary. Worn without irony or malice. Anyway, Manolo won't go clean out the bird cage, so later days. Nolte's blog is not as cute as Melanie Griffith's, though. (via laobserved)
posted by matteo on Oct 15, 2004 - 31 comments

Congratulations to Austria

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2004: Elfriede Jelinek, probably best known for the story behind Michael Haneke's La Pianiste.
posted by mr.marx on Oct 7, 2004 - 22 comments

Gleemail

Grind. Endless drudgery. Too much in your in-tray, not enough in your out-tray. You put your headphones on, but it doesn't really help. You want a distraction - just for a moment or two. "A happy employee is a productive employee" you justify to yourself, although you're not convinced. Then it happens. A 24 carat nugget of plain text escapism lands in your in-box. You're an alt-tab, double-click away from sheer bliss. DNRC; A.Word.A.Day; FlipFlopFlyin Newsletter; The Plain Text Gazette; and the previously mentioned Snowmail and Newsnight Newsletters, which take a less formal but equally sharp look at the day's news, with anecdotes and observations thrown in. What other quality plain text mail lists are around?
posted by nthdegx on Sep 29, 2004 - 6 comments

If All Stories Were Written Like Science Fiction Stories

If All Stories Were Written Like Science Fiction Stories. "Roger and Ann needed to meet Sergey in San Francisco. 'Should we take a train, or a steamship, or a plane?' asked Ann. 'Trains are too slow, and the trip by steamship around South America would take months,' replied Roger. 'We’ll take a plane.'"
posted by Johnny Assay on Sep 26, 2004 - 47 comments

Critique Magazine's On Writing III

Critique Magazine's On Writing III - Each year, Critique Magazine's staff compiles essays by and interviews with writers, teachers, and translators of merit for inclusion in the special anniversary edition "On Writing".

Basically, a shitload of authors provide thoughts on, ahem, writing. {Both sites are worth a look, imo.}
posted by dobbs on Sep 15, 2004 - 18 comments

I uppercased K.D. Lang’s name in a story... and it felt good.

Testy Copy Editors is a site run by WaPo Financial Copy Editor Philip Blanchard, with guest columns and discussions dedicated to blowing off steam for people in the occasionally tense business of making words fit, parse properly and make sense in print.

If you've actually edited copy under a deadline, or know someone who has, you know how thankless the job can sometimes be.
posted by chicobangs on Sep 10, 2004 - 16 comments

Gulp, type, gulp, type

Two Writers Drinking, Sitting Around, Talking About Stuff. That about says it! Two online veterans get drunk and exchange e-mails. (An ongoing series. The above link is part one. Part two is here, and part three can be found right here). (Via Maud)
posted by braun_richard on Aug 22, 2004 - 4 comments

eh?

Words: Woe & Wonder The CBC explains and debates usage from a Canadian-journalism standpoint - for example, why the Iraqi ex-leader is referred to by his first name and whether to capitalize this place.
posted by casarkos on Jul 15, 2004 - 8 comments

Sequoyah's Cherokee Syllabary

Sequoyah's Cherokee Syllabary
The history of a man who single-handedly invented a new and unique writing system which made the literacy rate of his nation shoot from 0% to 90% in just a few years.

Original source
posted by magullo on Jul 15, 2004 - 4 comments

Collaborative Novel Writing

The Great Mahakali Write-A-Thon.
posted by Gyan on May 9, 2004 - 2 comments

Ye Olde Writings

AncientScripts.com : discover introductions to more than 70 ancient and modern writing systems, from LinearB to hPhags-pa to Cherokee. View languages by type, family, or region. Many links to further reading on each subject, plus other goodies.
posted by falconred on May 7, 2004 - 3 comments

algorhythms of the meaningless.

The Collected Works of Racter: "A tree or shrub can grow and bloom. I am always the same. But I am clever."
Or, perhaps more useful than poetry, "A Method for Sorting Cows."
Have I read this before, or merely something like it? "A piece that is essentially the same as a piece made by any of the first conceptual artists, dated two years earlier than the original and signed by somebody else. "
In our confusion, we can settle for simple non-sequitor: The Ubuweb Anthology of Conceptual Writing.
posted by kaibutsu on May 5, 2004 - 7 comments

"With his blue ox, Emily Dickenson, Walt Whitman traveled across young America . . .

"With his blue ox, Emily Dickenson, Walt Whitman traveled across young America . . . and helped the nation grow into the angry powerhouse it is today." End of the year (2000), pressure from Mr. Farlow to take the class seriously and pick a real poet, Honors Student has 15 cups of coffee and cranks out a masterpiece . . . Not Walt Whitman. Anyone have any information on teacher, student, or their subsequent careers? (via Blogdex)
posted by palancik on Apr 25, 2004 - 34 comments

Blimp Story

The Horror of Blimps. This is just a short ROTFL funny story about a toy blimp gone bad. Brightened my day, anyway. (Thanks, Ken.)
posted by tbc on Apr 21, 2004 - 16 comments

What Makes A Writer A Writer?

So You Think You Might Be A Writer? Just because you write? An astute essay by Joseph Epstein poses the uncomfortable question: are you weird enough? There's something very unnatural and unhealthy about writing (as opposed to reading, for instance) - but what is it? [Via Arts and Letters Daily.]
posted by MiguelCardoso on Apr 19, 2004 - 51 comments

Lyttle Lytton 2004

The 2004 Lyttle Lytton winners were announced. The premise is simple: write a terrible opening line (of 25 words or less) of a hypothetical novel. In case you're wondering the winners in 2003 and 2002 were discussed previously. [via kathrynyu]
posted by mathowie on Apr 19, 2004 - 9 comments

Hunting snark

Snark. In the newest issue of Bookforum, critic Sven Birkerts ruminates on what he considers to be the regrettable rise of the snarky book review, taking as his starting example Dale Peck's hatchet job on Rick Moody, written in 2002. "Psychologically [the literary] landscape [is one that is] subtly demoralized by the slash-and-burn of bottom-line economics; the modernist/humanist assumption of art and social criticism marching forward, leading the way, has not recovered from the wholesale flight of academia into theory; the publishing world remains tyrannized in acquisition, marketing, and sales by the mentality of the blockbuster; the confident authority of print journalism has been challenged by the proliferation of online alternatives. [...] All of this leads, and not all that circuitously, to the question of snark, the spirit of negativity, the personal animus pushing ahead of the intellectual or critical agenda. Snark is, I believe, prompted by the terrible vacuum feeling of not mattering, not connecting, not being heard; it is fueled by rage at the same."
posted by Prospero on Apr 4, 2004 - 27 comments

Chuck Palahniuk's writers' workshop

Chuck Palahniuk (the author of such brawny reads as Choke and Fight Club) has an online writers' workshop that has monthly assignments subject to peer review, essays on writing by Chucky P., and a real smoove interface. I'm not a big fan of the guy or his work, but his "distinction essays", which are only posted to the site for a limited time, do contain the kind of solid instruction you'd hafta pay money for at a real writers workshop. The quality of the submissions varies, but seems to me to be a bit better than most online freebie writers-circle-jerk sites. Just don't choke on the ego.
posted by BitterOldPunk on Mar 30, 2004 - 6 comments

Confessions of a semi-successful author

Anonymous midlist author tells horror story (Salon: viewing of annoying ad required, but it's well worth it) "In the 10 years since I signed my first book contract, the publishing industry has changed in ways that are devastating [...] to midlist authors like me. [...] What once was about literature is now about return on investment. What once was hand-sold one by one by well-read, book-loving booksellers now moves by the pallet-load at Wal-Mart and Borders -- or doesn't move at all." (more inside)
posted by Prospero on Mar 22, 2004 - 117 comments

vanishing world

For the adventurous reader Dispatches From The Vanishing World a collection of environment themed travel articles by Alex Shoumatoff. Observe the "skeed row" behaviour of The Alcoholic Monkeys of St.Kitts, or travel to the worlds largest swap almost twice the size of England in the Amazon, this site presents magazine articles by Alex over the last 30 years as seen in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Rolling Stone.
posted by stbalbach on Feb 20, 2004 - 6 comments

Great Prose Stylists

A.J. Liebling; H.L.Mencken; E.B.White: Are The Great American Prose Stylists Long Dead And Gone? Perhaps it helps to have two initials. In any case, Gore Vidal apart, I'm afraid sheer opinionated and passionate prose, backed up by knowledge of the world, unorthodox views and uplifting prose that is simultaneously workmanlike and deliciously readable is a thing of the past in American journalism. Sameness; political correctness and sensitivity have all had their deleterious, neutering effect. Are there any exceptions?
posted by MiguelCardoso on Jan 29, 2004 - 36 comments

Janet Frame dies at 79

Janet Frame, New Zealand writer, is dead at 79. More information about her life, here, and obituary notice here. Nominated for the Nobel Prize for Fiction last year, I had hoped she might yet win. RIP.
posted by jokeefe on Jan 29, 2004 - 5 comments

The Eternal Appeal of Punctuation

Punk-Tuation: Is It The New Anarchy Or Boring Old Fascism All Over Again? How anal serious about apostrophes are you? Just how far would you go for a perfect semi-colon? Do you regularly reach for heart pills before you read MetaFilter? Take comfort in this: Lynne Trusse's wildly popular Eats Shoots And Leaves is this year's surprise bestseller in Britain. And I've limited myself to the MeFi-adored Guardian, just to make my (as it were) point. So... how important is punctuation to you? My own suspicion is that punctuation is the new spelling. It is important. (And, lest this seem carefree and frivolous, let me confess right away that MetaFilter may well be the worst offender, in this regard, ever to have blessedly existed.)
posted by MiguelCardoso on Dec 19, 2003 - 36 comments

Bad Writing = Good Writing?

Bad Writing = Good Writing? The academic journal Philosophy and Literature used to hold a "Bad Writing Contest" to ridicule dense, unreadable academic prose... but a new book argues headache inducing sentences are necessary to express subtle theoretical points.
posted by gregb1007 on Oct 30, 2003 - 28 comments

tablets

cuneiform digital library A digital library that allows you to browse pictures of cueiform tablets.
posted by rdr on Oct 12, 2003 - 3 comments

North to Alaska

Only 10 days left - Free house and internet cafe business in Alaska all you have to do is write an essay. Well, not an essay, but a story, poem, or limerick. It is tempting. But the entry fee is slowing me down. Stupid gimmick? Nifty idea?
posted by yesster on Oct 7, 2003 - 19 comments

Fragment: a writing meme.

Fragment: a writing meme. For creative writers who might need a small nudge in the ribs, three sentence fragments posted once a week "for you to fit into a bit of fiction/stream of consciousness/what-have-you... a quick bit of dirtiness to get your creative energy flowing". Write your bit and post your link. (via the ever-enlightening Anne, of Fishbucket.)
posted by taz on Oct 7, 2003 - 5 comments

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