Fiction: Undoing by Kim Magowan

JMWW

Reasons to do it:

To get you out of my system. Because the reality of you can never match the fantasy– no matter how great you are, how skillful, how tender your touch, how inventive your sweet talk. So possessing you will take away your power. That’s why I need to see your body: naked, real, unglorious. So I won’t want it. Cure by poison.

Or, carpe diem, et cetera. Life is short, right? In two years I turn forty. Soon my life will be too unwieldy to fling (like an anarchist in a cartoon, throwing a dynamite stick) into the fire.

Grist for the mill. I need to think of you as a research project: this is a collection of information, like leaves from a nature walk, like specimens from the moon. I will observe you closely: the hair on your shins, the texture of your armpits, the…

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… on a quiet word to music parents (shhh, don’t tell!)

just ponderin'

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Number One Son Sam, Jazz Student, on the Big Bass

Okay. Firstly….

Breathe.

It looks like little Johnny’s or Susie’s interest in the drums, or sax, or bass…

Or guitar, or piano, or clarinet, or flute, or didgeridoo…

Or that cute little triangle thingie they used to give you if you couldn’t play anything else, has lasted through elementary and middle school.

And now it looks like that cute little hobby that was supposed to stay a hobby has grown up and maniacally land-war’d itself into Potential Vocation territory, crushing the once-safe provinces of Medicine, Engineering, Nursing, Plumbing, Law, Accounting, and/or Fashion Merchandising along the way.

Particle Physics is still hanging on, but it doesn’t look good.

And you know this has happened because your perfect cherub just walked into the room and told you that they want to be… wait for it…

A musician.

Yes, they did tell you that.

Yes, they…

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Antisemitism in France: Yes, No, and Maybe

POINT de VUE: PARIS

vu de pompidou

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo/ policewoman/ kosher market killings here in Paris that took 17 lives last January, people have asked when they might expect to see a ‘point de vue’ on two subjects: whether daily life has changed, and whether antisemitism is on the rise in France. The two are terribly intertwined, for Jews and non-Jews alike.  Were these acts ghastly aberrations, media-genic statistical outliers? Or, is antisemitism at their root and on the march? If it is taking ground, then by how much, how fast? By what measure? How much does one, can one know?

I only live here: in the Marais, the old traditional Jewish enclave. I don’t have insider information and I’m not even sure I think what I think. But everyone can have an opinion– and apparently everyone does. President Netanyahu of Israel expressed his when he invited the Jews of France to…

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Barefoot

The Transient Photographer

Barefoot Barefoot

Shelter and safety. They make us feel comfortable and secure. We have a lot of comfort and security and shelter here in america. Rarely do we feel truly threatened or at risk. We go places we know are safe and we take part in activities that are completely within the realm of safety. Even when we risk a little it’s a conscious decision with as much safety measures in place as possible. We have so little risk in our lives we have to inject tiny amounts of it via perceptively dangerous recreational activities that are still extremely controlled.

With all this shelter comes, for me at least, a diminished sense of adventure and a disconnection with the experience of life and spontaneity. How can we truly connect with our surroundings if there’s a constant buffer separating us from it? When’s the last time you felt the touch of grass…

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The Economics of Book Deals

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

moneyWhen I wrote about my own experience going freelance in my Ultimate Guide to Starting a Freelance Writing Business, I mentioned the specific development that allowed me to quit my day job: a six-figure book advance. I didn’t want to get bogged down in the mechanics of book advances/the state of the publishing industry in that post, which was long and involved enough. That said, a freelancer friend wisely pointed out that I might want to explain that further, in case anyone’s reading that and thinking, “Oh, okay! I’ll just get a six-figure book advance then.” There are a number of reasons that I could think this was a reasonable expectation for me at that time (and these reasons, not coincidentally, double as a list of ways I was lucky):

1. We are talking about the lowest end of “six figures.” (I feel like I’m supposed to be coy about…

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Why I’m Not “Good People”

Jenny's Library

I’m not a nice person.

I’m not a good person.

I’m not a kind person.

This isn’t to say that I don’t ever try to be any of these three things.  I do, especially the last two.

It’s more to say that, for me, surviving in this cissexist, racist, ableist, heteronormative, classist, often fucked up world of ours has involved rejecting the idea that “good” and “bad” are static states of being.  I will never be a “good person” because, to me, “good” is not something that you achieve.  It’s an ongoing process that never ends.

It is, in fact, almost impossible not to be doing bad things as well as good when you are human and therefore flawed.  Especially when you are part of a messed up system, as we all are.

This, to me, is why it’s important to call out bad behavior, or hurtful language, or even…

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At Home Between the Pages by Dan Gemeinhart

Nerdy Book Club

When I think of my childhood, two themes immediately rise to the top: movement and books.

We moved a lot when I was growing up. In the beginning it was because my dad was in the military; later, just because we were following (or looking for) jobs. From when I was born in a military hospital in Germany until I entered middle school, we moved nearly every year. I was used to putting all my stuff into boxes, then taking it all out of boxes again in a new house, in a new town, with a new school. Each move brought a different bedroom, a different neighborhood, a different teacher, different friends. My family was strong and constant, but the rest of the world swirled and shifted around us.

I was a quiet kid, shy and introverted. It’s not easy always being the new kid. Walking into a classroom full…

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Putting off tomorrow.

Extra Dry Martini

“Procrastination is the thief of time.”

-Edward Young

Over and over and over again over these last two and a half years, I’ve reminded myself how precious time is; that it shouldn’t be wasted. After all, I’ve seen it in action: the way a mere phrase or phone call or the briefest of moments can permanently alter every cell in your body, so that afterwards you never think or dream or breathe the same way again. I don’t need anyone to tell me that all we have is this moment, this one, right now. I already know.

And yet. As I sit here, writing this to you, I am – at this very moment – procrastinating. I am putting off doing things that are important to me. Even after I resolved that I wouldn’t, I am still finding ways to stall. I am making excuses. Why?

I have a plan…

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The Answer Is Never

Longreads

Sabine Heinlein | Longreads | April 2015 | 16 minutes (3,886 words)

One time, when I was in my early twenties, I shared a hospital room with a mother of many. I had a skin infection that wouldn’t respond to oral medication, and the 50-something-year-old woman had severe, inexplicable hives. Our main topic of conversation revolved around neither of our ailments. It was about my not wanting to have children. She was insistent, which seemed ironic considering her hives flared up whenever her family visited her on Sundays. I eventually compromised with the woman. Okay, I said, I will put off my decision until I reach my thirties. “You are starry-eyed,” she huffed. “You young women want it all. But you can’t have it all!” Maybe, I thought, some of us don’t want it all.

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My Favorite Books About Writing Nonfiction

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

41lhhayQO9L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I always love reading about writing. I caution students about spending so much time reading about it that they never actually do it, but these books in particular have been invaluable in shaping my own approaches to writing. Some of them focus on nonfiction specifically, while many are great for any kind of writing:

The Artful Edit, by Susan Bell: I use this every time I do a self-edit on a manuscript. It’s also a fun book to read straight through. She uses the editing process for The Great Gatsby — detailed in letters between Fitzgerald and his editor — to show how editing makes everything better.

The New New Journalism, by Robert Boynton: Interviews with all the rock stars of current creative nonfiction — Ted Conover, Erik Larson, Susan Orlean. This is like a fan magazine for nerds like me.

The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron: 

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