Keep Creating

1996 David Foster Wallace Interview

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Hello all,

It seems that I am experiencing an input phase, rather than an output phase right now, which is why I’ve been so shamefully absent. Don’t worry, I’ll be back on here soon; just needed a breather and a moment to focus on consuming creative works to improve my own production.

I did want to stop in briefly to share this 1996 radio interview with David Foster Wallace though. It’s just 36 minutes long, but it’s wonderful, if also a little sad and incredibly poignant. Thank you, Open Source!

xo,

A

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Leuchtturm 1917 Softcover

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Here’s another one for the paper lovers out there: the Leuchtturm 1917 softcover notebook. In my last papery post, I mentioned that I consulted the wisdom of The Pen Addict, Goulet Pens, and The Desk of Adam when I needed a new notebook. After using Moleskine for years, I was no longer happy with the paper quality and started looking for something with an equally simple design, better paper, and in softcover (it’s lighter and therefore encourages me to tote it around more often).

I finally settled on the Leuchtturm softcover in “medium” and I’m very pleased with it. The medium size is 145 x 210 mm, slightly shorter and a little wider than its Moleskine counterpart . Mine is ruled, but it also comes in squared, blank, and dot grid, this last of which is my favorite but was unfortunately sold out at Skripta. (more…)

Writing on Trains

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A few weeks ago my amazing friend Jessica Gross wrote a piece for The Paris Review about writing on trains. There’s a lovely backstory that involves Twitter, the unexpected patronage of Amtrak, and the foundation of a writers’ residency on trains. I loved the piece and loved the idea, but was too busy reading the thousands of responses to write one of my own. Typically, I’m jumping on the bandwagon late, but it’s because I’ve only just realized what I’d like to say.

I was surprised that the movie The Darjeeling Limited didn’t come up more often (or at all? – please correct me if I’m wrong) in the discussion. After all, most of the movie takes place on a train, one that seems to be to be ideal for writing. Wes Anderson, one of my favorite directors, is well known – if not infamous – for his details. Each of his films has a distinctive color palette, a cast of ridiculous yet natural props belonging to a collection of equally ridiculous characters, and a particular vernacular. Anderson’s visual style is distinctive and immediately recognizable, and this includes the train car we occupy in The Darjeeling Limited. It is mustard yellow and sky blue. It is cramped, filled with the main characters’ absurd matching luggage set, a tan leather number dotted with palm trees, giraffes, cheetahs, and elephants, each bag bearing the initials of its former owner: the brothers’ deceased father. (more…)

Drawing the News with Eli Neugeboren

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Pro-European protestors gather during clashes with riot police in Kiev. Pencil on vellum Bristol, 9×12.

A year and a half ago, I met New York City-based artist/illustrator/designer Eli Neugeboren on a project for my old job, where he did some lovely graphic design work for us. Since then, I’ve kept up with him on social media and have become a particularly avid fan of his “Drawing the News” series, which is exactly what it sounds like: every few days he draws a major story from the news. I love the drawings, so I set up a quick interview to learn more about the series. Hope you enjoy it!

He has a solo show opening in at the Ouchi Gallery in Dumbo, Brooklyn  on March 4, so if you’re in New York, go check it out (details below or here)!

When and how did you start Drawing the News?

I started Drawing the News a little after Hurricane Sandy hit NYC, back in November 2012. I had been meaning to start going to figure drawing sessions for years, but always seemed too busy and never did, and felt like my drawing skills had been atrophying. I didn’t want it to be any kind of Sysiphean act of suffering, just something to get myself better informed about current events, and to improve those drawing skills.

I’ve tried not to set too many rules on myself other than making sure what I’m drawing is from the previous day or so, and using the same materials and dimensions. Specifically I wanted to improve my ability to draw likenesses, and to get comfortable enough that I could make these drawings seem both realistic and somewhat true-to-life, but also that I would be loose enough with them that they would develop their own style. (more…)

Touching Paper

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As some of you may have been able to guess, I am a paper addict. I like paper when words are printed on it and when pictures are drawn on it. I like touching it and smelling it and especially writing on it. I like holding a stack of paper that has been glued or sewn together and put between covers. No matter how dependent on my phone and computer I become, I still love interacting with paper.

What follows is a photo-heavy look at the paper (and a few pens) I use every day. I understand if it’s not your thing, but fellow paper addicts, click on! (more…)

The Paris Bookshelf, Part II

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I already blabbed on about some books about Paris, but I now present you with the books that actually came to Paris with me. As you might imagine based on the troubles I encountered packing my clothes, it was not easy for me to decide who was cool enough to make the trip. Books are heavy and, according to some outside sources whom I consulted mid-packing crisis, “non-essential items.” I of course beg to differ, and if the cost of bringing Borges and Wallace with me is a restricted range of sartorial options, then I shall simply have to look like a fashion-challenged but well-read slob while I’m here. C’est la vie.

Some books were no-brainers: the aforementioned Michelin Green Guide, Papa’s A Moveable Feast, and Marcel Proust’s In the Shadow of Young Girls in FlowerYou can’t come to Paris without both literal and literary guidebooks, plus I need Marcel to write my other blog, so he got an automatic berth. Being seen with either the Green Guide or the Hemingway in public would be a bit damaging to my attempts to seem like une vraie Parisienne (sometimes if I sense skepticism on the part of a shop clerk, I’ll choose to pay with my French bank card as if to validate my existence here, which now that I think about it, probably lowers their estimation of me given my terrible French, as if I’m telling them, “Yes, I live here but am making zero effort to speak your language properly.”), but they are consulted weekly in the privacy of my apartment.  (more…)

Good Luck, NaNoWriMo!

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November already has a lot of connotations: Thanksgiving, football, growing facial hair to raise awareness of men’s health issues, and so on. For some of us, November 1 means the start of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. The premise is that you write 50,000 words in November. You can create a profile on the NaNoWriMo website and track your progress and the progress of others; there are meetups and group writing dates in various cities; participants can reach out to each other via the forum (which can be for help, encouragement, or procrastination).

I’m not doing it this year for a few reasons, the most significant being that the year I tried to do it, I didn’t find it to be a helpful exercise. I usually start a story with a character or an event in mind. When that idea dries up, I go back and edit what I have, a process that usually triggers the next character, event, or idea in the story, and so on. It’s a slow process. Forcing myself to write 1333 words a day was helpful at first in terms of discipline (i.e. making sure I had time to write every day), but by the end of the month I was just trying to barf up words and I didn’t even hit the word count. (more…)

Red Pen Procrastination

photo 2I’m better at editing than writing. I say this to myself all the time, and occasionally to other people. Sometimes it can be so difficult, especially when writing fiction, for me to get the sentences onto the page. Maybe I’m not exactly sure what I’m trying to say in that paragraph, or what a character would do in that situation, or I’m extra-overwhelmed by the impossibility of ever taking the abstractions in my head and making concrete little blocks of words out of them. (more…)

Keeping in the Groove

Hello, beautiful strangers. I have definitely been a neglectful blogger over the past month. I was traveling, and then I was preoccupied and busy and a million other excuses. I am making a comeback now though, and you can look forward to some travel recaps plus a new series of posts about running, since I signed up for my first half-marathon in November. In the mean time, I am going to let Louis Armstrong (another Queens resident!) chastise me:

“You can’t take it for granted. Even if we have two, three days off I still have to blow that horn a few hours to keep up the chops. I mean I’ve been playing 50 years, and that’s what I’ve been doing in order to keep in that groove there.”

I’m so sorry, Louis. I’m back to blowing the horn.

PS I could listen to his voice all day, couldn’t you?

Trekking through Drivel

This is an old one, but a great one, and something that I have forgotten of late. The entire interview with Ira Glass is definitely worth a listen, but the beautifully illustrated clip above is my favorite part. The bottom line: you have to create a whole lot of unsatisfying crap before your talent can catch up with your taste. There’s no avoiding it, so better start writing (or painting or composing etc.).

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