‘The Art of the Final Sentence’ via The Millions

“For writers, the last sentences aren’t about reader responsibility at all — it’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to stop worrying about what comes next, because nothing does. No more keeping the reader interested, no more wariness over giving the game away. This is the best time for a writer to get real, to depict reality as they see it, without compromises, without fear.”
                           – Jonathan Russell Clark
Read the rest of Jonathan Russell Clark’s “The Art of the Final Sentence” at The Millions, and be sure to check out other essays in Clark’s “The Art of…” series, perhaps “The Art of the Opening Sentence” for the sake of balance.
What’s your favorite final sentence?

 

IDEAS: Considering Technology’s Impact on the Humanities, via The Millions

via The Millions, credit: Pixabay

“Aside from issues of life and death, there is no more urgent task for American intellectuals and writers than to think critically about the salience, even the tyranny, of technology in individual and collective life.”

– Leon Wieseltier, Among the Disrupted 

from The Millions, “Only Connect: Social (Media) Anxiety,” by Sarah Labrie:

“‘Aside from issues of life and death, there is no more urgent task for American intellectuals and writers than to think critically about the salience, even the tyranny, of technology in individual and collective life,’ wrote Leon Wieseltier last month in his call to arms against the threat technology poses to humanism. ‘Among the Disrupted‘ sparked a heated debate among its readers, or at least, as heated as can reasonably be expected in the letters section of the New York Times Book Review. As one critic pointed out, there are plenty of more urgent issues for all of us to ponder, child poverty and the pay gap among them. What struck me, though, wasn’t the essay’s hyperbole, but the inaccuracy of its target.

covercoverThe problem facing writers now isn’t the growing prominence of tech, but the question of how deeply the two fields are intertwined, and what that relationship means. Most of the notable works of fiction published in recent years (Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad and Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven spring immediately to mind) present thoughtful considerations of the evolving relationship between the self and technology, and a lot of the people who read these books probably read them on the Kindle app. The same people who subscribe to Harpers read work published by the Atavist and curated by Longform. I’m writing right now in the notepad app on my iPhone, and you’re reading on your computer or your iPad or your own phone. How many writers do you know at this point who don’t have their own websites, Tumblrs, or blogs? For that matter, how many do you know who aren’t on Twitter?”

Read the rest at The Millions

We want to hear from you! Tell us what you think in the comments below (or tweet us @chapmanoutreach–just don’t tell these two authors)!

Do you agree with Wieseltier that technology poses a tyrannical threat to the humanities? to individual and collective life? to human connection in general?

How is your own writing intertwined with technology and social media? If it isn’t, how and why is that?

Lynda Barry on Keeping a Diary

The point of the daily diary exercise is not to record what you already know about what happened to you in the last 24 hours. Instead, it’s an invitation to the back of your mind to come forward and reveal to you the perishable images about the day you didn’t notice you noticed at all.” — Lynda Barry

Lynda Barry on various "Daily Diary" practices - via Tumblr

Lynda Barry on various “Daily Diary” practices – via Tumblr


In a recent Tumblr post, artist, author and professor Lynda Barry discusses the many variations on her diary-keeping exercises. As opposed to a place for simply logging one’s most recent 24-hour haze day after day after day, Barry’s diaries “teach you to hear, see, and remember the world all around you.

“The point of this practice is to begin to notice when we notice something.  It’s akin to a certain sort of ‘waking up’ – and becoming present in a different way than we usually are in our day to day lives.  We catch ourselves noting something that has caught our eye or our ear. We begin to realize these flashes of awakeness [sic] –(which can oddly feel also like dreaming), are happening to us all day long…” (Barry)

To highlight some of the diary-keeping parameters that might help you throughout our workshop and in the future, here’s a short list of what to include in your diary/journal/notebook [as quoted from Barry’s drawings above/below]:

  • things that you noticed when you became present — that is to say when the hamster wheel of thoughts and plans and worries stopped long enough for you to notice where you were and what was going on around you…
  • things you did
  • things you observed
  • things you overheard
  • drawings.

Barry’s Tumblr is not only an excellent source of notebook-keeping wisdom, but also full of incredible golden nuggets of inspiration from around the web and world at large. For now here’s a page from her most recent book, Syllabus, which was published just last year. As always, Barry poses insightful questions with multiple, perhaps unending, answers. I invite you to spend some time reflecting on the questions posed here in your workshop journal. And remember: There are no wrong answers.

Lynda Barry, “Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor.” Drawn & Quarterly (2014).

 

What is Literature for? via The School of Life

via The School of Life:

“Literature is the greatest ‘reality simulator,’ a machine that puts you through infinitely more situations than you could ever directly witness… It lets you speed up time, in order to see the arc of a life from childhood to old age…Literature cures you of provincialism and, at almost no cost, turns us into citizens of the world…”

Do you agree? What do you think literature is for? Write it out! 

FRIDAY FREE-WRITE: Writing the Unseen…

J.J. Abrams says his unopened mystery box from childhood represents “infinite possibility,” the sense of potential that hangs in balance with the unseen.

Grab your notebook! Trap your characters inside of a mystery box–a car, a freight container on a moving train, a basement, a kleenex box on a desk–any space, at any scale. Describe the setting and tension as accurately as possible without ever finally revealing exactly where they are.

Not feeling it? Revisit a piece of your writing and think about the unseen or off-screen details that haven’t been exploited. Exploit them.

Philip Levine: ‘What Work Is’


We stand in the rain in a long line
waiting at Ford Highland Park. For work.
You know what work is—if you’re
old enough to read this you know what
work is, although you may not do it.
Forget you. This is about waiting,
shifting from one foot to another.
Feeling the light rain falling like mist
into your hair, blurring your vision
until you think you see your own brother
ahead of you, maybe ten places.
You rub your glasses with your fingers,
and of course it’s someone else’s brother,
narrower across the shoulders than
yours but with the same sad slouch, the grin
that does not hide the stubbornness,
the sad refusal to give in to
rain, to the hours of wasted waiting,
to the knowledge that somewhere ahead
a man is waiting who will say, “No,
we’re not hiring today,” for any
reason he wants. You love your brother,
now suddenly you can hardly stand
the love flooding you for your brother,
who’s not beside you or behind or
ahead because he’s home trying to
sleep off a miserable night shift
at Cadillac so he can get up
before noon to study his German.
Works eight hours a night so he can sing
Wagner, the opera you hate most,
the worst music ever invented.
How long has it been since you told him
you loved him, held his wide shoulders,
opened your eyes wide and said those words,
and maybe kissed his cheek? You’ve never
done something so simple, so obvious,
not because you’re too young or too dumb,
not because you’re jealous or even mean
or incapable of crying in
the presence of another man, no,
just because you don’t know what work is.

Philip Levine, “What Work Is” from What Work Is. Copyright © 1992 by Philip Levine. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.

Source: What Work Is: Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 1991)