Writing Exercise

An Encyclopedia of Every Literary Plot, Ever by Boris Kachka has resulted in a writing exercise where I try to find the plots in or near my life. Hashtag Narcissism!


Ideas, Lately

  • Pluto’s Republic is discussed in both The Hatred of Poetry by Ben Lerner and Bluets by Maggie Nelson.  I like to note the moment when an idea appears in multiple facets of life.
    • Lerner: “Plato, in the most influential attack on poetry in recorded history, concluded that there was no place for poetry in the Republic because poets are rhetoricians who pass off imaginative projections as the truth and risk corrupting the citizens of the just city, especially the impressionable youth.”
    • Nelson: “For Plato, color was as dangerous a narcotic as poetry. He wanted both out of the republic. He called painters ‘mixers and grinders of multi-colored drugs,’ and color itself a form of pharmakon.
  • In Bluets, Maggie Nelson writes about the painting of the same name by Joan Mitchell. When I look up the painting online, an essay by Lydia Davis is returned in the search results. I read Davis’s book of stories, Can’t and Won’t, earlier this year, and I liked how it expanded my notions of what a story could be. (“The Cows,” part of which Davis reads here.)
  • In a similar way, I like that I do not know how to categorize this book. What are these propositions?
  • “156. ’Why is the sky blue?’ –A fair enough question, and one I have learned the answer to several times. Yet every time I try to explain it to someone or remember it to myself, it eludes me. Now I like to remember the question alone, as it reminds me that my mind is essentially a sieve, that I am mortal.”
  • Nelson writes about Saint Lucy, “patron saint of the blind, whose name means, ‘clear, radiant, understandable.’” Days earlier, I met Lucy, the cat born with no eyes, at the yoga retreat.
  • Donna, the retreat owner-instructor, quoting one of the yogis: “The reason we do yoga is to have a radiant face.”
  • Close to the end of Bluets, Nelson admits she mispronounced the word, and didn’t know it translated into plain old cornflowers. She thought she had never seen them before.
  • I had mistranslated the title of the book. I thought it meant “blueberries” in French.
  • I was ecstatic to find blueberries abundant in Maine and laughed at the coincidence of bringing a book called “Blueberries.” Ecstatic over a mistake.
  • Alexa’s t-shirt: “I’ll make better mistakes tomorrow.”
  • Then today, checking my French-English dictionary, it confirms bleuet means cornflower, but has a secondary definition applicable to Canada, where it can mean blueberries, specifically the lowbush species, common to North America. Google will translate bleuet as cornflower, bleuets as blueberries, and bluets as cornflowers.


Cooper Hewitt

I crossed an item off my New York Bucket List yesterday by visiting Cooper Hewitt, the Smithsonian Design Museum. When you buy your ticket, the museum gives you a digital pen that you can use all around the exhibits, sometimes to draw or otherwise interact on tablet-like tables, and you can also save almost any object that you like to your own digital visit. The ticket comes with a unique URL for you to then retrieve that visit.  Here are the things I liked.


What I Am Working On

In second grade, I wrote a story called “A Dinosaur in Town.” My mother saved it and left it for me to discover in my desk back in the Whip, figuring my nieces would get a kick out of it. I was delighted, too, having no recollection of this class project. Clipped to the book was a beautiful letter from my teacher who had taken the story to a conference in the summer of 1989.

Spoiler: the last line of the story is “Even though I never saw him again I still remember him.” Which is the end of most stories I’ve written. It’s time to get a new ending, people.

What I am currently working on right now, as inspired by Austin Kleon:

  1. Running, on account of the upcoming Hood to Coast Relay
  2. Yoga. I went to a yoga retreat at Sewall House in northern Maine! I want to go back next year!
  3. Python. Via CodeAcademy.
  4. Journaling. This includes adding pictures. Which I rarely did before, but a convergence of forces (Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic, Lynda Barry, and my second-grade project) made me wonder: why not?
  5. Disconnecting from Facebook to focus on other things
  6. Therefore reviving older technology to maintain contact with family and friends – notes, e-mails, blog?, meeting IRL??
  7. Befriending the New York Public Library
  8. To forgive and release the past and move into joy, dammit

I am on vacation. I am starting a new job in September. A memorable, if poorly documented, summer.