[T]he few of us who do manage to break through are touted as examples of progress while we are still the exceptions and not the rule. And then, the writers who come up after us are told that there’s no room for them. … Those of us that break through are, to some, interchangeable tokens, trotted out as examples of progress when, in fact, that progress is mostly an illusion.
Smart people are curious about the world, and smart people are curious about the other people who live in that world.
—Lauren Naturale (the voice of @MerriamWebster)
Nothing is a bad experience, no matter how horrible it is, if you can find a way to look at it in a different light.
Stories are a fundamental human form of thought.
Innocence, like freedom, is a privilege.
In his 1976 essay “Lumbar Thought,” Italian writer-philosopher Umberto Eco recalled wearing tight jeans for the first time and finding that the constant feeling of clothing pressing on his body made him aware at all times of his exterior form, limiting his capacity for internal thought and stunting his ability to manspread. “As a rule I am boisterous, I sprawl in a chair, I slump wherever I please, with no claim to elegance: My blue jeans checked these actions, made me more polite and mature,” he wrote. “I lived in the knowledge that I had jeans on, whereas normally we live forgetting that we’re wearing undershorts or trousers.” Eco concluded that tight or uncomfortable items of clothing-bras, girdles, hosiery, heels, Wedgie Fit jeans-are significant contributors to women’s oppression. Body-squishing womenswear does more than inhibit free movement, he surmised. It occupies brainspace and consciousness that could be better used scheming, creating, or just daydreaming.
There’s a reason I’m translating a woman next. I think about that; I think about the question of women writers in translation. I’ve translated on commission a lot, so I tend to just choose the best of what I’m offered, and that’s happened to be male writers. But I do think that it’s my responsibility to seek out women writers and to translate them.
Students are attracted to design in the first place because they see the world in a different way, slightly askew. They are weird. Most of them have heard this many times in their lives-and it was not intended as a compliment. But Weird is good; it’s an anomaly and it’s unique. I teach on the simple premise that the things that made you weird as a kid make you great as an adult-but only if you pay attention to them. If you look at any “successful” person, they are probably being paid to play out the goofiness or athleticism or nerdiness or curiosity they already possessed as a child. Unfortunately for most people, somewhere along the road their weirdness was taught out of them or, worse, shamed out of them. Crushed by the need to “fit in,” they left their quirks and special powers behind. But it is our flaws that make us interesting. We need to not only hang on to them, but hone them. I don’t try to make my students “Designers.” I want to make them “free-er.” It’s my job to teach them to look inside, to covet their weirdness, to help them direct it and take the rough edges off-or even add a few new ones. It’s my job to help students understand and cultivate their individuality and innate weirdness and turn them into a powerful tool. Weird is good, but only if we put it in your work.
Of course it wouldn’t matter if you did give up writing. It’s not the giving up of the writing that I fear. It’s the giving up of this excitement or whatever it is that you feel that makes you write. This is what I wonder: what do most people do once the necessity of working all the time is removed? Even the retired people who take courses and have hobbies are looking for something to fill this void, and I feel such horror of being like that and having that kind of life. The only thing that I’ve ever had to fill my life has been writing.
Delay is natural to a writer. He is like a surfer—he bides his time, waits for the perfect wave on which to ride in. Delay is instinctive with him. He waits for the surge (of emotion? of strength? of courage?) that will carry him along. I have no warm-up exercises, other than to take an occasional drink. I am apt to let something simmer for a while in my mind before trying to put it into words. I walk around, straightening pictures on the wall, rugs on the floor—as though not until everything in the world was lined up and perfectly true could anybody reasonably expect me to set a word down on paper.