Choosing to Write

Did I write in college? No. Middlebury’s English department, studded with black-clad dramatic types and buzzing with an intellectual intensity that was nearly palpable, might well have been the surface of Mars to my twenty-something self. I was terrified, and so I fled to the comparatively tamer moons of history, planted a flag. And from […]

Owning a Word

Word by word, writers build something. Once in a while—not too often if ever, for most of us—a writer will employ a word so well that it becomes his or her property for the indefinite future. American playwright, performer, feminist, activist Eve Ensler comes to mind. As it happened, Eve was a college classmate—intense, even […]

Winged Messenger

Bruce Chatwin, English novelist and travel writer, was the first author whose death, twenty-one years ago, made me sad.  A devoted reader, I thought we could have been friends. I liked his work, admired his storytelling. I was intrigued by his life.  And I learned from him. A free man, he could take off on […]

Reader in the Room

How much do you consider your reader? There are those who will tell you that if the answer is not at all, you run the risk of creating something self indulgent, myopic, too dense, too vague, too general, or too utterly pointless to interest another human being. I think this is harsh and only half […]

Baby Chicks

Who says that techies can’t write a sentence that would make the crowd sit up and take notice? My son, an aficionado of digital wonders, saved his dollars and ordered something called a Cupcake CNC. It’s a desktop printer—your own little factory—that produces not your usual flat piece of paper but a three dimensional object. […]

Rituals

It’s nice to have an agent with a sense of humor. After some months of doing what agents do for a project, he writes: Rollout almost complete! Light candles.  Perform sacrificial rituals. Who knew that slaughtering a chicken, say, was part of the business? Better make it an ox, he adds, mindful of the capricious […]

In Pursuit of a Rabbit

Once, I interviewed a lot of geniuses, my little tape recorder in hand. On a tight deadline and tempted to seek secretarial help, I’m glad I chose instead to transcribe the tapes myself. Not only did this pull me by the lapels right up close to the material, but I got some surprises. One was […]

Chocolate

At Thanksgiving, once, I joined family at a rustic-styled hotel which played host, as well, to a sprinkling of celebrities. At dinner in the clatter-filled, capacious dining hall, I happened to be seated close to the dessert buffet. Chocolate, in all its glorious preparations, was in ample display. The cakes, the cookies, the puddings, the […]

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