Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Since I started this blog I've been able to keep my promise to myself to post something each day. Up until today, that has been easy enough: there are always ideas in the air at work, and when I'm not at work, there is always what I am reading or trying to think my way through to fall back on. But today I'm at a loss. My back is still bothering me. The doctor has no openings until Friday. In the meantime, I find it hard to do anything at all for more than a few minutes at a time, much less concentrate on something for long enough to shape a coherent post. I've been dipping into the collection of short esssays from the New York Times entitled Writers on Writing. (The most interesting or resonant single passage I've come across today is from Kent Haruf:
It's important to me to maintain this impression of spontaneity. By spontaneity I mean a sense of freshness and vividness. Perhaps at times even a suggestion of awkwardness. Otherwise, prose sounds to me stilted and too polished, as if the life of it were perfected out of it. It's very difficult to arrive at this sense of freshness and spontaneity in prose—in my experience, it takes a great deal of effort and practice and years of concentrated apprenticeship—but I believe it is one of the most important attributes to achieve. That, and simplicity. And clarity. Those would be the holy trinity in the art of fiction writing.
So that will go into the quotation bank that I keep to share with my students as the occasion demands.)

I've been listening to the Chekhov tape, with increasing appreciation for Kenneth Branagh's lively, multivoiced readings. (I've thought about trying to write up a response to at least on of the stories, that that's going to involve more time and energy than I have available today.) I've been thumbing more or less idly through the weekend papers. When my back begins to protest, I've been lying down and attempting to nap. I've picked up half a dozen books that I'm more or less in the middle in the hope of being drawn in for a while.

I've followed a few links from my site feeds, including one from the Conversational Reading blog to the new Book Lust wiki, where I was pleased to see a page in the "favorite authors" section devoted to Lee Child, whose pulp-fiction-with-a-jolt-of-something-more novels I binged on earlier this year. If Lee Child had a new book out this week, I'd be all over it. Instead, I'm in a kind of in-between zone, waiting for What Comes Next.

In short, I've been somewhat adrift. This is what always happens to me sooner or later during vacations, and it's one of the reasons why I often find myself, even when my vacation period is not yet half over, looking forward to getting back into the productive routines of my regular work life.

So that's my report for today. It's not much, and it's not too focussed, but, for what it's worth, I've kept the string alive. I'll try to do better tomorrow.

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