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  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsUserProcessor::map() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::map($source_item, $target_item = NULL) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsUserProcessor.inc on line 195.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
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  • You must include at least one positive keyword with 3 characters or more.
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  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_field_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_field.inc on line 641.
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  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_argument.inc on line 770.

Lisa Gornick Asks: Can Writing Make You a Better Person?

In the 31st in a series of posts on 2015 books entered for The Story Prize, Lisa Gornick, author of Louisa Meets Bear (Sarah Crichton Books/FSG), looks to take the high road.Disclaimer: Putting aside extremes—ax murderer, extortionist—anything we do with commitment and self-reflection can make us a better person. But writing is what I do these days, and here’s how it helps me.(A list because lists go down easy, seven because lore says it’s the sweet memory spot…)

  1. To write, I have to observe. I have to push myself to see: sky beyond generic dawn or dusk, drunk beyond scruffy and stumbling. To hear: the breathing of someone so angry he might punch a wall, trees before a hurricane hits. To smell garbage on the eighth day after an apocalypse, feel a sea slick with oil, taste chicken a hallucinating mother browned with shoe polish.
  2. To write, I have to tolerate being alone at my desk, without answering the phone or checking email or looking up Black Friday sales. An act of warfare against the multitasking-google-social media-hegemony.
  3. To write, I have to be honest with myself. I have to be able to say this is not good or new or worthwhile. I have to be able to accept that this sentence, this paragraph, this chapter is not working and has to be redone or done away with. I have to recognize when I am procrastinating, in a muddle, avoiding how much I don’t know. Or afraid of pursuing a scene because of what others might think or what it might make me think about myself. And sometimes, I have to say, just to myself, this is a leap for me. This is good.
  4. To write, I have to push myself to go deeper and into more dangerous territory, and to work harder and longer than I believe I can. I have to find the courage and concentration and persistence, and then do everything in my power to become a mental tri-athlete.
  5. To write, I have to be independent: to take my work as far as I can on my own, so it reaches into my unconscious and is work only I could write. No crowdsourcing, no groupthink. I have to trust myself that with patience I can find my way out of confusion and vagueness and cliché to something that is original and true.
  6. To write, I have to accept that I have blind spots and can’t always see the big picture or hear my verbal tics or identify the places where burrowing in or paring back will make the work more luminous. I have to find readers who give honest feedback—not those who primarily reassure or those who eviscerate, but a few people who are committed to helping me make my work its own best self. And then I have to listen carefully to what my readers say, never arguing, always responding with gratitude because it is an act of love for another person to put his or her mind to my work. And, if what is said rings true, I have to make the changes, even if it takes two months or two years. And if what is said feels like it takes the work in a direction different from my own vision, I have to simply say thank you.
  7. To write, I have to believe that the work and my development as a writer, not the metrics of sales and prizes and likes and shares, is what matters. I have to resist the statistics of the marketplace, beware of how they can damage the literary soul.   

Do I achieve all of these virtues every day? Never. Do I reach any of them in a week? Sometimes. But writing points me toward the high road—and that, I know, is the best direction.

"There is no great writing, only great rewriting"
Justice Brandeis

Random picks

  • Into which tumbleth the book world’s minutiae. An Amazon screw up deeply discounts expensive comics and drives graphica to bestseller list FYI: UT <3s DFW Giller jury comprised of Monica Ali, Claire Messud, and a guy from CBC Ex-FSG editor Lorin Stein to take helm at Paris Review 9,000 changes to new ed of Finnegan’s Wake: five bucks to first person who can point them all out without involuntary admission to psychiatric ward Eric Hill and Spot the Dog More job cuts at Borders US Galleycat points to a video of how book covers are made: six hours of work in two minutes:
  • It is important to be able to correctly write dates and times in English, especially when sending important correspondences. Any misunderstanding about a date or time for a meeting, for example, can have unwanted consequences and appear unprofessional. So, in order to avoid any errors, you can follow these rules for writing dates and times in English.
  • Do you want to work in your own home and make a living writing articles? A work at home mom, or WHAM, stays home with her children and works around their schedule. Learn where the opportunities lie and how you can make real money writing content at home.
  • What makes an excellent article submission web site for post marketing? This is a great query today as post advertising is much more well-known and there are a lot more submission websites than ever just before. To me, the sign of a great post submission website is 1 who cares about their authors and cares about their content material. So correct off the bat, if there’s no screening method and my write-up is automatically accepted, I won’t use this web site. A good post submission site will look out for “authors” who spin and rewrite content material to obtain a lot...
  • When someone decides to teach a course in leadership, they should have natural talent and strong skills in the area themselves. Leadership speakers must be able to deal with many people for all kinds of reasons. Most people who seek authority positions already possess the skills they need to be somewhat successful. They will seek out help if they feel there are areas they could use assistance in strengthening. They will want to know that the person instructing them is skilled in all areas of leading. Leadership speakers must possess certain qualities to be able to lead successfully, and these...

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Fast fact about writing

Well-known writers who have suffered from writer's block include George Gissing, Samuel Coleridge, Ralph Ellison, Joseph Mitchell and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Writers who overcame writer's block and published new work after a hiatus of decades include Harold Brodkey, whose novel The Runaway Soul appeared some 30 years after it was first projected, and Henry Roth, whose first novel, Call It Sleep, was published in 1934; his second, Mercy Of A Rude Stream, did not appear until 1994.