"With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this Calling
We shall not cease from exploration..."
“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
- T.S. Eliot, twice
Writing is never finished, the adventure never stops. Writers are always working to expand whether they are 7 or 80, unpublished or Noble laureate. There are so many wind changes and influences on the high seas of this exploit and often the direction adjustments can be slight. So a log is useful: to realize how far one has come, to digest the voyage, and so others may be inspired or guided to their own currents. My name is Nathan Glen McWherter and this is a mere charting of exploration without borders.
• Tell me, ask me
• Add to the charting
“If a writer of prose knows enough of what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water. A writer who omits things because he does not know them only makes hollow places in his writing.”
- Ernest Hemingway, “Death in the Afternoon”
“…minimalist narrative techniques create an interpretative indeterminacy which asks that the reader make a growing contribution to its meaning, culminating in an awareness of what is revealed, rather than resolved, at the short story’s ending. All literature makes demands upon the reader, but… minimalism makes specific demands in-line with its specific narrative techniques: reading ‘less’ demands that the reader do more, because the minimalist short story refuses to provide easy answers to the many questions it raises.”
- Phil Greaney, “An Introduction to literary minimalism in the American short story”
Falling in love all over again with literary minimalism. While in college there were many times I read minimalist stories (and enjoyed them), I think I learned to love the style with Sophia Coppola’s Somewhere. And while there are many other minimalist shows, films, novels, and authors, Somewhere will always be my first kiss.
12:57 pm • 13 June 2012 • 1 note • View comments
“I don’t tell anyone how to write and no one tells me.”
— Ray Bradbury
7:54 pm • 6 June 2012 • 7 notes • View comments
“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”
An unforgettable. Rest in peace, good sir.
8:24 am • 6 June 2012 • 47 notes • View comments
My heart has been a fisherman’s bait
Sink sink like Sing Sing
A conversation from the end of imagination
The Woman I still haven’t met
You wrap around my arms
And are my water wings
1:00 pm • 1 June 2012 • View comments
“A Tennessean named Webster had been watching him and he asked the judge what he aimed to do with those notes and sketches and the judge smiled and said that it was his intention to expunge them from the memory of man. Webster smiled and the judge laughed. Webster regarded him with one eye asquint and he said: Well you’ve been a draftsman somewheres and them pictures is like enough the things themselves. But no man can put all the world in a book. No more than everthing drawed in a book is so.”
— Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian
12:59 pm • 29 May 2012 • 1 note • View comments
Cormac McCarthy said literature should only be about life and death. He said he doesn’t understand writers like Henry James, “To me, that’s not literature.”
I think he was right (except the crack about James), but I don’t think he understood what he was saying. When McCarthy thinks of life and death, he thinks of the struggle to live, that one is facing death and is trying to survive, clinging onto life. But we are not animals, and literature is the most reflective art form of the character of man. The life of a man is not only the drive to survive, we are human, we do not want to survive just because breathing feels good, we want to survive because there are things we want to live for.
Literature is our study of ourselves, the study of how we live, the study of why we live and why we keep living, why we do not just give up, why we always strive to pursue something greater, why even when we are living, we want more life; and yes, hand-in-hand it is about what could drive us to no longer want to live, what can make us spin spin so fast we can’t see anything in life worth the effort, why we become complacent, uninvolved, and why, contrastingly, some live such daring, dangerous lives.
But it is both. Not just one.
Literature is about the relationship between life and death. It is about the life we live when we realize finitude and how brutal that death can be. And it is about the deaths we face daily, because not every fight to survive is fleshly.
All of life is dangerous.
Why else would we keep living and keep writing about it?
7:02 pm • 7 May 2012 • 3 notes • View comments
Have you ever heard a basketball fan talk about Michael Jordan? About Jordan or Lebron James? Many people who don’t like Lebron don’t like him because they don’t believe he gives the game all he has. He doesn’t leave it all on the court. Michael Jordan is the ultimate champion of basketball because there was never a doubt if he left it all on the court or not. There’s a famous game of Jordan’s called “The Flu”, on this day, Jordan had… yep, you guessed it, the flu. But that didn’t stop him. He played one of the hardest games of his career: Game 5 of the ‘97 finals and he made 38 points, which was more than any other healthy player that day— and this was the Finals. When the game was over (do you really have to ask if they won or not?), he collapsed into Scottie Pippen’s arms because he was so exhausted, so empty, and had to be carried off the court.
As writers, we are required to give the page everything we have. When we are down and out, sick and over it: we do not stop. We drag that muse or monster or whatever to that damn blinking screen to say “Hell if I care you don’t want to work, you’re gonna give me something right now.” When we feel we’re out on top, that this is the day we could win Game 7 or write Huck Finn: we do not coast by and take arrogant, cheap, half-assed shots— we remain focused and vigilant, with an eye always on our six because we know apathy moves as fast as D. Rose and is just as motivated to win.
We are writers. This is our calling, our life, there have been millions before us and there will be millions after, and it would be so easy to just get lost in the numbers. So we must stand out. We must shoot for the impossible. Make a mark. Grip the pen with fists and leave MWP-size bruises— swinging till that page is writhing on the floor, crying like a dumbass fan in the stands or James Harden. And above all, we must clutch the moment when it comes: even when there’s only 0.4 seconds left. We must never back down. Because this is our court. This is our battlefield. Our Olympus. And we are part of the mythology. We will either be remembered as Ares and Apollo: gods of war, truth, light, and poetry. Or we will be unknown and forgotten like Bumba, the Bushongo god of vomiting.
Leave it all on the page, because if you don’t, someone else will. And if you don’t have it in you, get the hell off my court.
7:01 pm • 26 April 2012 • 6 notes • View comments
will build a bower
to catch a lady’s eye.
to show he is strong enough
to prove he is bird enough
to fashion a piece of art
to say “Hey
I think you’re pretty fine.”
He’ll hunt to
gather sticks feathers flowers
because he knows
the bridge between
one and one
is never clean and neat
but takes a little mess.
And he’ll stay up late
till his blue eyes are
blinded by screen light
and the morning bright is infantile
she sees this
she’ll say “Hey
I think you’re pretty fine.”
8:17 am • 24 April 2012 • 4 notes • View comments
“I am doing nothing much. Toph and I are playing frisbee, are going to the beach. I am taking a class in furniture-painting, and I am taking the class very seriously. I am spending a good deal of time painting furniture in the backyard, and while I am applying my twelve years of art education to the painting of furniture, I am wondering what I will do, in a more general, futuristic sense, what exactly I will do. My furniture is good, I think— I am taking thrift-store furniture, end tables mostly, sanding them down, and then painting on them pictures of fat men’s faces, blue goats, and lost socks. I have it in my head that I will sell these tables, will find a boutique somewhere in town and will sell them for, say, $1,000 per, and when I am hard at work on one of my tables, deep “inside” one, you might say, solving the unique problems of a new piece— is this rendering of a severed foot too facile, too commercial?— it seems that what I am doing is noble, meaningful and will all too likely make me celebrated and wealthy.”
- Dave Eggers, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, p. 54
Throughout much of Eggers’s memoir he often breaks into moments of grandiose fantasy where what he is doing, or is going to do, will be great and he will become celebrated and wealthy, should be celebrated and wealthy, that he is entitled to this. It’s one of the great motifs in the book and is part of his coping method to a (should I say it? Sure, I’ll say it) heartbreaking series of events.
Looking at the now-Eggers in contrast to the then-Eggers, it is evident he accomplished this goal. While his fame is not attributed to paintings of feet on furniture, he is considered one of (if not the) hardest working living writers— he’s an accomplished best-selling author and Pulitzer Prize finalist; founder of a publishing company that produces a daily-updated literature and humor site, a literary quarterly, a literary magazine, and a DVD magazine; a screenwriter; and the co-founder of a national tutoring center for which he received one of three TED Prizes in 2008. But is his prominence the inevitable result of something great inside him that he could always sense? Or did he accomplish his goal because of his determination?
Chime in: What are the bounds of a writer’s ambition? Does a writer need to view himself or herself so highly in order to achieve greatness? Does a writer even need to be ambitious?
Steinbeck once wrote, “The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.” But what are the dangers of this line of thinking? Is there such a thing as too ambitious? Must this ambition be arrogant and conceited? (Not to accuse Eggers of arrogance, but Steinbeck definitely required it). Can one have humble ambition? What would that look like? As struggling (or perhaps accomplished) writers, how should we handle our perceptions of our own writing and our desires for the future?
1:30 pm • 15 April 2012 • 2 notes • View comments
“A good writer will use winning adjectives; a great writer will flourish, fashion, bleed, thirst for verbs.”
8:07 am • 11 April 2012 • 8 notes • View comments