Archive for Writing

My Belief in Cycles…

With everything that’s happening on the planet these days I’m paying increased attention to all its cycles–cosmic, solar, historical, political, business, gestational and creative. Some, like cosmic, solar and gestational are immutable. The others are at the mercy of humans and human events.

In the fifth century B.C. the Greek historian and geographer Herodotus was the first to categorize and investigate ethnographical, geographical, and historical events and come up with a theory regarding their origins. It was the first systematic theory of history. Over the 2600 years since other theories have been propounded–Thomas Carlyle’s Great Forces or Great Man theory, Arnold Toynbee’s Challenge and Response theory, and Edward Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. The “random” theory,” currently in favor, holds the interaction of billions of humans and their choices along with all the other natural and unnatural factors in the world creates history with no discernible flow or path. read more

Living and Dying in 3/4 Time…

It’s not hard to explain my devotion to Jimmy Buffett. Everything about him is sheer exuberant joy. I jumped on his bandwagon in ’73. My first album was A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean album and it was followed in ’74 with AIA. When he released his album “A Pirate Looks at Forty I was 37. I wasn’t thinking mortality, but the album and the title song struck a note with me, and they’ve long been favorites of mine.

His death, on Friday, from Merkel cell carcinoma, a rare and aggressive form of skin cancer, reminds me that no matter how good life looks at any moment it’s never guaranteed. As the survivor of six melanomas I know that. I’m sure he had the best medical care money can buy. He had plenty, but that doesn’t matter when those insidious cells slip in under the radar. I’ve just been luckier. read more

No Life is Inconsequential…

Eleven years ago when memoirs were becoming the literary flavor of the day, A New York Times editor named Neil Genzlinger wrote an essay in the¬†Book Review lamenting the proliferation of the “absurdly bloated genre.” It was entitled The Problem with Memoirs. Yes, the moirs strikethrough was intentional to emphasize the Me in memoir. In his essay Genzlinger raged against the “age of oversharing” arguing that “unremarkable lives” should go “unremarked upon, the way God intended.” read more

Capricious and Arbitrary…

Fifty-years ago I wrote a short story about a deceased bachelor lawyer in San Francisco who wrote fiction secretly for 40-years. When his townhouse was cleared following his death, the executor discovered the manuscripts neatly stacked in a closet and contacted a publisher to determine if they had literary worth. He said yes, and when published they were celebrated as a national literary event.

I’ve always been interested in the distinction between the creative process and its end product. My character was reclusive but felt compelled to write. He noted in his journal that with the volume of literature, mostly unread, filling library shelves was overwhelming and he had no interest in adding to it. read more

Commas and Semicolons…

I’ve never had a literary agent or an editor, but I developed a deep appreciation for the skill set after hearing Mary Norris, copy editor at the New Yorker, read from her book Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen several years ago. But there’s a film playing in theaters now that has expanded that appreciation exponentially.

Turn Every Page is a documentary that chronicles the fifty-year relationship of Robert Gottlieb, the editor-in-chief at Alfred A. Knopf Inc. and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Caro. The film is the result of a seven year-long project by Lizzie Gottlieb, Robert’s daughter and an accomplished film maker in her own right. read more