“We tend to repeat as teachers what we’ve learned as students. We also tend to perform in the classroom the practices that make us feel effective in the short term—after all, we’re evaluated after just 15 weeks, whereas what we’re hoping to produce is a classroom full of lifetime writers. How do we know that our practices were effective when our students are done with their training and we send them out in the world to be working writers?”
Feedback Helps Performance But Not Learning | d a v e m a d d e n
Pause for thought. So much of the time we have in workshops is short term, near field. There’s often a sense that there must be something demonstrable by the end of the workshop. There must be a poem. There must be some quantifiable deliverable. These are expectations that are either manifested through us (as facilitators meeting the brief/objectives defined by whoever it is that commissioned us to lead the workshop/lesson), or that we’ve internalised. After all, how else do we know that the idea or concept we were trying to encourage our students/participants to approach through whatever challenge we set them has been taken on? Nothing wrong with a bit of rigour— the challenge to turn in an initial draft in a relatively short period, particularly if it comes within a programme designed to support the development of a writing discipline. That said, different writers have differing levels of discipline— some of my recent experiments in facilitation have been around creating experiences that challenge emerging writers to do more, while at the same time trying to respect different writing practises. As Madden channels Martone in the post quoted above, the ultimate goal is that each of the writers I work with will continue to write, regardless, a long time into the future…
“There is no secret to creativity besides possessing a habitual work ethic. But damn. Sometimes, it’s just hard as hell. Here we are, fortunate enough to possess hands that can harness magic to turn nothing in to something.”
- From 'Pseudo-Structures' by Frank Chimero
Eliezer Yudkowsky was once attacked by a Moebius strip. He beat it to death with the other side, non-violently.
Inside Eliezer Yudkowsky’s pineal gland is not an immortal soul, but another brain.
Eliezer Yudkowsky’s favorite food is printouts of Rice’s theorem.
Eliezer Yudkowsky’s favorite fighting technique is a roundhouse dustspeck to the face.
Eliezer Yudkowsky Facts - Less Wrong
Swoon. The list continues…
(Score 1 point for divergent reading)
“The point I wish to emphasize is not an economic one, but a human one: if you try to say too many things, you don’t say anything at all.”
- George McKeown, via Memorable Meetings | Steps & Leaps
“I’m a writer, and don’t get me wrong: To publish a plain ol’ book that people actually want to read is still a solid achievement. But I think Markus Persson and his studio have staked out a new kind of achievement, a deeper kind: To make the system that calls forth the book, which is not just a story but a real magick manual that grants its reader (who consumes it avidly, endlessly, all day, at school, at night, under the covers, studying, studying) new and exciting powers in a vivid, malleable world.”
The secret of Minecraft — The Message — Medium
Consider: as author, your creative endeavour as “generative, networked system” from whence the “book” is derived…
“None of the bones here remember what bodies
they belong to. It is a hard thing to realize that each of
the bones once loved as we do, and harder even to say it.”
- From ‘Prayer’ by Richard Jackson, via So Much Joy It Hurts
“Pretty good ideas are easy. The guts and persistence and talent to create, ship and stick it out are what’s hard.”
Seth’s Blog: “I don’t have any good ideas”
If you follow me on any of my other various channels, you’ll know I’m currently in Philadelphia, checking in with Brave New Voices— an (THE?) annual youth poetry festival. I came over for it last year, when it was in Chicago, and although I’ve been involved in youth poetry and/or youth slam initiatives for a very long time now (15+ years? Nobody’s keeping count, right?) it was inspiring to see. I travelled back to London with a mind full of the desire to push things harder in the UK, to really make a difference… then got back into the grind and didn’t really live up to the revolutionary zeal I’d managed to muster through my travels. Sure, I manage an independent youth poetry community, I’ve inherited a spoken word education programme, I maintain a long-running poetry course at the Barbican, I mentor emerging poets, I still teach on an ad hoc basis, and I have my fingers in many more pies within the sector, but every now and then I have moments like this where I step back and ask what it’s all worth. Whether the work I’m doing is really having the impact I want it to. And: whether I’m doing a good enough job of communicating the vision and getting people on board.
For now, I’m simply celebrating the opportunity I’ve had thus far this week to gain some perspective. Soon enough, I’ll be back in grind mode, trying to maintain the balance between the 40,000 foot view and the attention to minutiae that keeps everything moving forward.
“If poetry students don’t read broadly, why should anyone else? They read only their contemporaries, no interest in the past as present. Every writing program or conference should offer refresher zones—reading without writing for a brief or long while. Fill up the well if you want to be a writer. We live in an age where you can celebrify yourself instantly. You can pimp yourself in poetry or fiction overnight—anybody can publish anything now because of the Internet. With no critical standards and little reading, we aren’t talking about imaginative writing anymore. We’re talking about a cottage industry and the creation of artifacts and trinkets. The solitude of the writing experience—solitude that reads and converses with the great dead—seems an enemy of technology. Though, finally, I don’t believe this is true. There are poets of all ages who are not threatened by technology but do not have to use it as a club—in both senses of the word.”
- Paris Review – An Interview with Carol Muske-Dukes, Alex Dueben
“So much of becoming a writer is called finding one’s voice, and it is that; but it seems to me it is also finding something—some tenor, or territory, or mode, or concern—you can never abandon. For some it is a genre like comics. For some, it is a fascination with metaphysics or misfits or marriage. Not that you don’t have other interests; but there must be some hat you would not willingly take off. It is the thing that gives a writer, “b.s. artist” that he or she is, at some level the chutzpah to drop the “b.s.” It is the source of his or her “authenticity”—this sense that however imaginative the work, the writer has a real stake in it, that he or she is driven by some inner necessity.”
- “What Comes of All That,” from Tiger Writing, Gish Jen (via John Estes)
Eadem mutata resurgo.
This means, “The same, yet changed, I arise again.”
How To Achieve Success In Science Fiction Publishing | OMNI Reboot
Morning mantra? Monday mantra? Battle-cry?
“I don’t think I spend a lot more time writing than other writers. But I do think that when I was a young writer with two young kids, I learned that whatever time I could get, even if it was just a few minutes, was valuable. I don’t spend time ramping up and ramping down like a lot of writers I know. I don’t check to see if anything is new on the Internet. I don’t have to spend time sharpening my special magical pencil made from wood taken from the deck of the Titanic. I don’t have to brew my cup of coffee and balance it just right to write. I don’t have to be writing in my precious little handmade notebook that I bought in Bolivia from the Aymara people. I don’t have to be sitting at my desk looking out at the birds in the backyard and wait for the song of the lark for inspiration to strike. Instead, if I have fifteen minutes, I write for a full fifteen minutes. I try to live my life in such a way that when those minutes come I can take advantage of them wherever I am and whatever I have to write with—computer, phone, pen, pencil, etc.—and take advantage of them fully, and I think the idea of being committed to doing that has actually, somehow, made it work.”
- The Believer Logger: 5X5: BRIAN EVENSON
“The things we craft are imbued with little pieces of us. And the relationship is reciprocal. We are changed in some way, large or small, by all that we craft.”
- The Pride Of Craftsmanship
““as computers get better at thinking like us and shaping our behavior,” Leon Neyfakh wrote, “they can also be rewired to spring us free.” @YouAreCarrying is proof of that maxim and replaces usefulness with creativity. Just as the Surrealists deployed the “Exquisite Corpse” to spark their imaginations, Vestal sees a similar purpose. “It helps kickstart people’s imagination,” Vestal says. “How do I get to this point where I have an aspirin, a subatomic drive and the Elven sword of antiquity?” There is no answer, but the indiscernibility is part of @YouAreCarrying’s mission. It’s a prompt to ponder and encourages one to solicit others for feedback. “People want to share what they’re carrying,” Vestal says. “It’s like opening up a present on Christmas day.” And what a strange and glorious Christmas that must be.”
Twitter bot turns text adventures inventories into a sea of creativity - Kill Screen - Videogame Arts & Culture.
CHALLENGE: Tweet “i” or “inventory” to @YouAreCarrying and write a poem that includes/references the items you get back. Double dare ya.
Oh, and holler back if you actually do.
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Oh wait— Paper—>Book now? When did this happen!? BRB— got books to make…
“Race was naive enough to think that dyeing her hair was enough to alter the pigment of her name, the nature of her shadow. She tried lime green to generate more zest, a fiery red to suggest deep-seated passions, even black, for that laid back retro look. But nothing changed. People walked past her on the street, eyes averted, clasping their gaudy shopping bags watchfully. In school she sat in the corners, hoping to blend in with the cracked paint. Her lovers continued to call her by other names when making love. In the dark, and in the throes of ecstasy, they claimed, everyone looked the same. It was easy to be confused, Race was not convinced. She felt different inside, a place where moonlight could not reach. She tried using a microscope, a DNA test, her rose-tinted glasses, but could not figure out why the softly pulsing engine of her being remained invisible to her. Did she not have a name? A history? And did she not buy her own clothes with money she earned the same way as everyone else? Disappointed, Race realised that her should was not the sum of her choices, nor her genes a composite of caresses and strokes leading up to her conception. She envied her friends, the purity of their obliviousness, how they wore their hair casually long and streaked with gold, gleaming against their skin beneath, gleaming agains their skin, beneath which the blood coursed, without question, like a final answer. She wondered if she peeled back their flesh, unhinged the bone, eased apart the knotted sinews, whether she should also find nothingness there: a space worn away in the shape of their own silence; what colour it must be.”
- “Race”, What Gives Us Our Names by Alvin Pang
If you’re a regular visitor, you’ll have heard me mention Alvin before. If you’re unfamiliar with his work, I’m happy for you— it means you have a joyous discovery ahead. That said, don’t delay…
“Technology has made different kinds of poets out of us. Together we sing ghost songs. We have haunted mouths, and speaking flesh. Together we imagine impossible things that I can write, but not make. Together we make things that I cannot imagine. We barter noisily like grandmothers. Because I am a writer, and trade in poetry, so I tempt technology to do the same.”
- Jools Gilson-Ellis
“Your language is the code which writes your software which is your thinking which manages your behaviour.”
- Pause&Consider 101: the next ten - Nicholas Bate