Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

On Memoir: When Angst Is A Prompt

If the title of this re-blog doesn’t pull you in, perhaps this statement from the author will:

“When you write, you have the constant option to be dangerous. When you and your pen walk right up to the edge of a cliff and glare over, you always risk an inevitable drop.”

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

By Laura Vrcek

Laura Vrcek Laura Vrcek

I recently read an essay by Tom Spanbauer titled “Dangerous Writing” in the January/February 2016 issue of Poets & Writers. In it, he mentions that occasionally a beginning writer will submit a horror story or screenplay in his Dangerous Writing Workshop. The misunderstanding is honest at best but what Spanbauer wants is considerably scarier. He writes, “To write dangerous is to go to parts of ourselves that we know exist but try to ignore…” The kind of writing that challenges the personas we publish on social media and defend when they’re wrong.

It was timely when I read it, just after AWP’s 2016 conference in Los Angeles. My goal this go around was to find enough panels to attend so that I could sponge and then justify writing about my mother’s bipolar disorder despite the fact that it makes her unhappy. On a panel…

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A 4-Year-Old Has Read 1,000 Books?

Apparently it’s true—I hope it’s not Fake News… A 4-Year-Old Has Read 1000 Books?

Daliyah Marie Arana is her name.

The Washington Post says, in their article, Introducing Daliyah, the 4-year-old girl who has read more than 1,000 books (Whoa, I hope it’s not fake news...):

“…by the time she was about 18 months old, she was recognizing the words in the books her mother read her.”

“…at 2 years and 11 months — the age that most children barely understand the concept that text carries a message — Daliyah read her first book on her own.”

“Now 4 years old, Daliyah has read more than 1,000 books and has managed to read certain college-level texts. And the preschooler’s skilled reading and passion for literature impressed even the leader of the nation’s library, Carla Hayden, the 14th Librarian of Congress.”

“It was fun to have 4-year-old Daliyah Marie Arana of Gainesville, GA as ‘Librarian For The Day’. She’s already read more than a 1,000 books.”

BabyCenter Blog, in its article, This 4-Year-Old Was Honored for Reading 1,000 Books, says:

“A pint-sized bookworm from Georgia has read more books by age 4 than some people read in a lifetime – and because of it, the Library of Congress made her an honorary librarian….

“There’s no doubt the voracious reader was impressed by the sprawling rooms and enormous stacks at the world’s largest library.

“She just kept saying how the Library of Congress is her most favorite, favorite, favorite library in the whole wide world,” said Daliyah’s mother, Heleema Arana….

“In the year since, Daliyah met the program’s goal and now hopes to reach 1,500 books by the time she heads off to kindergarten in the fall. Her goal is to ‘help the teacher teach the other kids how to read.’…”

Gainesville GA The GainesvilleTimes, in its article, Gainesville Pre-Schooler Reads 1,000 Books, says:

“Daliyah said she likes learning about dinosaurs and reading books about adventure. Her favorite author is Mo Willems, whose books are targeted to children in pre-K through third grade.

“Haleema Arana said she and her husband, Miguel Arana, started reading to their daughter ‘right when she was born.’”

“Reading has improved Daliyah’s spoken abilities, as well. While her voice squeaks like the average 4-year-old, her language is vastly more mature.”

“When asked why she wants to be a librarian, Daliyah talks about her love of books, but her real hope is deeper.

“I like to check out books every day,” she said. “And I want to teach other kids to read at an early age, too.”

And, here is Daliyah reading  — (just below the video is the text of what she’s reading:-)

The Pleasure of Books
“The habit of reading is one of the greatest resources of mankind; and we enjoy reading books that belong to us much more than if they are borrowed. A borrowed book is like a guest in the house; it must be treated with punctiliousness, with a certain considerate formality. You must see that it sustains no damage; it must not suffer while under your roof. You cannot leave it carelessly, you cannot mark it, you cannot turn down the pages, you cannot use it familiarly. And then, some day, although this is seldom done, you really ought to return it. But your own books belong to you; you treat them with that affectionate intimacy that annihilates formality. Books are for use, not for show; you should own no book that you are afraid to mark up, or afraid to place on the table, wide open and face down. A good reason for marking favorite passages in books is that this practice enables you to remember more easily the significant sayings, to refer to them quickly, and then in later years, it is like visiting a forest where you once blazed a trail. You have the pleasure of going over the old ground, and recalling both the intellectual scenery and your own earlier self. Everyone should begin collecting a private library in youth; the instinct of private property, which is fundamental in human beings, can here be cultivated with every advantage and no evils. One should have one’s own bookshelves, which should not have doors, glass windows, or keys; they should be free and accessible to the hand as well as to the eye. The best of mural decorations is books; they are more varied in color and appearance than any wallpaper, they are more attractive in design, and they have the prime advantage of being separate personalities, so that if you sit alone in the room in the firelight, you are surrounded with intimate friends. The knowledge that they are there in plain view is both stimulating and refreshing. You do not have to read them all. Most of my indoor life is spent in a room containing six thousand books; and I have a stock answer to the invariable question that comes from strangers. ‘Have you read all of these books?’ ‘Some of them twice.’ This reply is both true and unexpected. There are of course no friends like living, breathing, corporeal men and women; my devotion to reading has never made me a recluse. How could it? Books are of the people, by the people, for the people. Literature is the immortal part of history; it is the best and most enduring part of personality. But book-friends have this advantage over living friends; you can enjoy the most truly aristocratic society in the world whenever you want it. The great dead are beyond our physical reach, and the great living are usually almost as inaccessible; as for our personal friends and acquaintances, we cannot always see them. Perchance they are asleep, or away on a journey. But in a private library, you can at any moment converse with Socrates or Shakespeare or Carlyle or Dumas or Dickens or Shaw or Barrie or Galsworthy. And there is no doubt that in these books you see these men at their best. They wrote for you. They ‘laid themselves out’, they did their ultimate best to entertain you, to make a favorable impression. You are necessary to them as an audience is to an actor; only instead of seeing them masked, you look into their innermost heart of hearts.”
William Lyon Phelps – 1933

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You Want to Make a Living as a Writer? Are You Crazy?

This re-blog is very practical — I suggest thoroughly thinking through each point she makes…

Live to Write - Write to Live

If you have a passion for writing and have non-creatives in your life, you have probably heard some form of this mantra for years:

No one can make a living writing; find something practical to pursue. 

What’s ‘practical’? What makes sense if your passion is for words? Fitting the square peg into a round hole never works, does it?

The comfort of working for yourself The comfort of working for yourself

It helps to be a little crazy when pursuing something many people can’t relate to. But if you want to make a living as a writer, there are a few skills that can help you succeed.

  • Passion for words – I believe you need to have a yearning to learn about words, to want to play with words, to strive to get sentences just write, to want to share part of yourself through written expression. You want to make an impression on your audience in…

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I have made fire! The role of readers vs. the role of mentors

If you read this re-blog up to this statement, “When you find those few readers who understand what it is you are about, lasso your life rafts together and sail on…”, you’ll have learned a boatload of writerly principles………

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

raftBy Sarah Wells

I’ve been striking out into the land-of-new-subjects after completing an MFA thesis of linked essays, or memoir-in-essays, or essays-I-am-pretending-work-as-chapters-in-a-memoir.

It’s scary territory. I’ve written with little direction, about whatever tickles my fancy, reaching here and branching there and juxtaposing this against that, just saying whatever it is I want to say and then slapping “essay” on top of it.

And then it just sits there in my folder of creative nonfiction. No one says I need to send them 10-15 double-spaced pages in the next week. No one digs in with track changes and comments enabled to tell me what’s working or “you might consider…” or “more here!” or “cut the first 80 pages.” (Steven Harvey said that to me. It was okay. I survived.)

No one is asking to read my new stuff. I’ve crash landed on the deserted post-MFA island, and my writing is piling…

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Friday Story Bazaar ~ Tale Twenty-Six

Politically Correct

Alexander M Zoltai


Of course Dan was special…

Every one was, in some way—his way was just being part of the historical elite—white and proud; but, tolerant of other folks; and, always politically correct…

He couldn’t understand all these recent efforts to secure “rights” for so many divergent groups—it was getting to be that anyone could select some feature of their body or some aspect of their social status or some particular addiction they had and turn it into a movement; and, the media was all over all of them…

There was this black fellow at his place of work—hard working, fairly intelligent; but, too damned insistent on having every single idea heard—not just the appropriate ones; but, every single idea…

And, the young gay guy—so sensitive it seemed he’d cry if you didn’t smile at him…

One stormy Monday, Dan was chosen to lead an employee meeting.

He did just what he’d been trained to do—keep things on topic—redirect stray comments toward company goals—rephrase criticisms about management—generally, make the meeting reinforce why all of them were working for the company.

The meeting was a war—he couldn’t control it; so many of them were working to dismantle his every effort—he wished he had a gun so he could shut the dumb shits up…

He quit his job…

Later in the week he saw a special news item about his former company…

Another manager had brought a gun to a meeting—shot three blacks, two gays, and five other whining idiots…

He still couldn’t understand all these recent efforts to secure “rights” for so many divergent groups.

But, he still felt special…

Every one was special, in some way—his way was just being part of the historical elite—white and proud; but, tolerant of other folks; except stupid blacks, prissy gays, those complete idiots who wanted some special bathroom rights, and women who wanted to do what men should do…

None of his small group of friends knew where he’d gotten to…

A few months later he was featured in some very special news coverage—him and his newly purchased gun and the slaughter he’d committed at the local mall………


Read More Story Bazaar Tales

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