Each week, Evan Peterson rounds up stories from across the Web that scribes of all stripes should check out.
There are joys and advantages in getting away from the cluttered, noise-filled indoors to do your writing, disadvantages in being a Gen Y wordsmith, and questionable quality to movies whose subject works in a medium that relies entirely on text.
Articles this week looked at all three.
It's common for writers to have a writing space where most of their work gets done. Usually it's an office, a bedroom, or a kitchen. It's almost always inside. But what if you are only reaching a portion of your abilities by surrounding yourself with a roof and electricity. Author Carol Kaufman writes in this piece for The New York Times
about the wealth of research that says our minds work better when they're surrounded by fresh air and nature; and that screens, lights and noises from gadgets can limit our creative capacity. She writes:
And though this seems like an obvious conclusion, how often are we writers victims of indoor inertia? Why do we try to write while held hostage by cookie-cutter offices, zapped by overhead fluorescence, and pinged by electronic apps of varying degrees of annoyance? This, truly, is writing with only a partial mind, because our mind lies in too many different realms.
It's probably true that we don't do our best work hunched over a laptop. However, proper research for a story often requires WiFi, and that's still found mostly indoors.
Message from a Gen Y writer:
One of your Facebook friends probably posted this piece
from The Huffington Post
this week about how Gen Y is unhappy because most of the people in it are delusional and feel entitled. Whatever you think of that, it's worth reading writer Adam Weinstein's rebuttal on his blog, in which he explains why the Gen Y post is a pile of garbage—except he uses other language. Weinstein is a journalist. And it would be hard to find many of those who would say a lack of hard work is what's kept them from reaching their career goals. A changing economy, the Internet, lower real wages, less job security, and no pension, yes. But a lack of hard work?
As Weinstein writes:
I once listened to a professor, who is in his sixties, read us the first published piece he’d been paid for, in the late 1970s. A thousand words or so. The rate, he says, was something like two bucks a word. That’s four times what the Village Voice pays today, even for an award-winning investigative cover story. It’s geometrically greater than what most writers can earn today writing daily brilliance for nationally renowned publications online. And writing daily brilliance, which many of them do, is hard goddamned work. If I had a dollar for every older writer or editor who confided to me that “I don’t know how young writers do it today; I certainly couldn’t,” I could buy every property that publishes them. So no, we shan’t be doing as well as our parents, and no, we shan’t be shutting up about it.
As Galley Cat first highlighted
, Weinstein's piece has reached over 700,000 views.
A writer’s life on film:
This is a negative review of the new documentary, “Salinger,” about the famously reclusive life of the “Catcher in the Rye” author. Let’s just get that out of the way. But the headline to the story—“The Writer’s Life is Not a Cinematic Life”—brings up an interesting question: Can a movie about a writer—a profession that requires long, tedious dedication to the same story or few stories, constructed in text—be all that fun to watch? I’ll admit “Salinger” sounds interesting to me, but only to learn more about the man. The fact that he’s a famous writer seems secondary to the idea that a famous human would ever want to disappear for the last half of his or her 91 years on this planet. Erin Trahan writes here that while “Salinger” fails at making viewers want to go out and read his work (not clear if that's what the movie is trying to achieve), there are other recent films about writers that work:
It’s been written that Salinger’s estate has copyright under such lock and key that his work couldn’t be quoted. Still, where there’s an imagination, there’s a way. Two recent documentaries with admittedly more access found enticing ways to weave writers’ lives and their respective work into refreshing biopics. After seeing, “Patience (After Sebald)” and “Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton as Himself” I headed straight to the books.
So, there are a few documentaries about writers you may want to check out this fall, “Salinger” included.
[RELATED: Learn the art of the visual story at this November video summit.] Evan Peterson is a writer based in Chicago, and is the editor of OpenMarkets magazine at CME Group. He's on Twitter at @evanmpeterson.