J. D. Salinger: Newspapers Serve No Purpose

J. D. Salinger despised newspaper reporters and publishing industry which in fact had helped him thrive as an author.  (File:Portrait of JD Salinger.jpg)
J. D. Salinger despised newspaper reporters and publishing industry which in fact had helped him thrive as an author. (File:Portrait of JD Salinger.jpg)

“If you’re a writer, you need to quit that newspaper. Newspapers serve no purpose. And publishing is the worst person could do.”- J. D. Salinger via veteran journalist Betty Eppes

It’s impossible to avoid publishing industry and press these days if you earn a living as an author. You must deal with it regardless of the fact that you like them or loathe them.

And Salinger himself even indicated different attitudes towards journalists and news outlets. He once phoned a jurnalist of American media only to warn the press that he disliked them. He is thus not a hermit by any definition. Hermits don’t reach out. They stay in their nutshells, just like a hermit crab.

Wildly Witty Quotations from "The Catcher in the Rye" (1)

“Life is a game, boy. Life is a game that one plays according to the rules.” (p11)

“I don’t give a damn, except that I get bored sometimes when people tell me to act my age.” (p 12)

“Do you feel absolutely no concern for your future, boy?”
“Oh, I feel some concern for my future, all right. Sure. Sure, I do.” I thought about it for a minute. “But not too much, I guess. Not too much, I guess.”
“You will,”old Spencer said. “You will, boy. You will when it’s too late.” (p 17-18)

“I mean I’m not going to be a goddam surgeon or a violinist or anything anyway.” (p44)

“He stood there, reading it, and sort of stroking his bare chest and stomach, with this very stupid expression on his face. He was always stroking his stomach or his chest. He was mad about himself.” (p46)

“You always do everything backasswards.” (p46)

“In every school I’ve gone to, all the athletic bastards stick together.” (p49)

“All morons hate it when you call them a moron.” (p50)

“You never saw such gore in your life. I had blood all over my mouth and chin and even on my pajamas and bathrobe. It partly scared me and it partly fascinated me. All that blood and all sort of made me look tough.” (p51)

“Almost every time somebody gives me a present and it ends up making me sad.” (p58)

“I put my red hunting hat on, and turned the peak around the back, the way I liked it, and then I yelled at the top of my goddam voice,”Sleep tight, ya morons!” (p59)

“Mothers are all slightly insane.” (p62)

“He was even more depressing than the room was. He was one of thise bald guys that comb all their hair over from the side to cover up the baldness. I’d rather be bald than do that.” (p68-69)

“Sex is something I really don’t understand too hot. You never know where the hell you are. I keep making up these sex rules for myself, and then I break them right away.” (p70)

“The only trouble is, she is a little too affectionate sometimes. Shek’s very emotional, for a child. She really is. Something else she does, she writes books all the time. Only, she doesn’t finish them.” (p76)

“I’m not kidding, some of these very stupid girls can really knock you out on a dance floor.” (p79)

“You don’t always have to get too sexy to get to know a girl.” (p85)

“We’d get into a goddam movie or something, and right away we’d start holding hands, and we wouldn’t quit till the movie was over.” (p89)

“I certainly like to hear him play, but sometimes you feel like turning his goddam piano over. I think it’s because sometimes when he plays, he sounds like the kind of a guy that won’t talk to you unless you’re a big shot.” (p90)

“People are always ruining things for you.” (p98)

“One of my troubles is, I never care too much when I lose something.” (p100)

“I wasn’t sleepy or anything, but I was feeling sort of lousy. Depressed and all. I almost wished I was dead.” (p101)

“It was against my principles and all, but I was feeling so depressed I didn’t even think. That’s the whole trouble. When you’re feeling depressed, you can’t even think.” (p102)

“The thing is, most of the time when you’re coming pretty close to doing it with a girl – a girl that isn’t a prostitute or anything, I mean – she keeps telling you to stop. The trouble with me is, I stop. Most guys don’t. I can’t help it.” (p103)

Writing the Easiest Fiction is Much Harder than the Most Complex Non Fiction, Claims Ann Patchett

‎”Fiction is always really a labor. The hardest piece of non-fiction I ever wrote is NOT anywhere close to the easiest piece of fiction.”- Ann Patchett

As she talked about her non fiction work This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, Patchett also touched on this issue, which has become my problem, too. ‎She put it into words so effectively. No wonder, she is a great wordsmith.

Though she is more known for her fiction works, Patchett also wrote non fiction ones, which apparently are not so much read by the public. Here in her book, she dared to spill some personal intimate details of her own life.

She admitted she is fond of working as a magazine writer assigned to write non fiction pieces. This job enabled her to survive while pursuing her dream of becoming a successful novelist right in her twenties. It’s the best choice of all jobs, compared to being a waitress and a teacher. Being a writer of a magazine didn’t drain her physical energy‎ and made her much easier to write fiction works because there was more spare time left.

One thing that seems interesting to me is when she stated that her best piece of non fiction is much related to her most intimate private life details, like her stories on taking care of her grand mother, her marriage, etc. I guess that is because it is written with a heartfelt passion.

I as well am quite like her now. I work as a reporter, a job that makes me write 25 pieces of stories a single day (8 hours). Insanity? You bet. As challenging as it may seem, ‎I thank God because this way, I can afford my future fiction writing project.

Patchett is absolutely right about fiction writing. It is not merely about writing any imagination and wild and odd ideas ‎but more about creating a whole different world that resembles the world we live in. Because you still need to use logic after all while writing fiction works.

How about you? Do you think the same way, too?

Jonathan Franzen on How to Write Bluntly without Being Killed or Hurt, Literally…

jon franzen
Franzen, known for his dislike towards social media and his novel “The Correction”, shares his tips and tricks on how to stay honest while writing without getting murdered or hurt afterwards.

A few days ago, I tried writing things I never imagined writing. What was in my mind was trying to help some people out there learn the information they may not know before. I quoted the sentences written in the book, and interpreted based on my logic and all the knowledge I have about Indonesia’s politics.

The reactions emerged like sudden flood at midnight. So unprecendented and unexpected. I would see thousands of visitors coming and reading my posts literally every second, which rarely happened during my 5-year period of blogging. I was a solo blogger, thus never thought my blog would be in the limelight. A meager amount of traffic already makes me happy. But the last weekend was tremendous. All is because the topic I chose, urged by the desire to inform. It was not because of deadlines or professional pressures. I wrote because I felt I had to

Not all people are pleased to learn what I posted. Some were less than happy to find my writing. And one was “worried and enraged” because I was writing a sensitive theme in my spare time, which instead I might have used for “another much better purpose”, like writing for business purposes (if you know what I mean). Another advised that I should be cautious because who knows what will happen to me during this politically unstable phase.

“Sorry,” I said,”It was my absolute right to write things I deem important to convey to my readers. You have no rights whatsoever to tell me what to or not to write….” I hope she somehow reads it and fires me NOW. Because I know she wouldn’t dare. And even if she dares, I would be happy to accept the decision to simplify my life.

Feeling frustrated and unsupported, I turn to the American literary figure Jonathan Franzen for advice. He acknowledges:

“A piece of writing is not interesting or worth doing if there’s not some personal risks, if it’s not dangerous in some fashion. Whether you’re exposing some parts of yourself you’d rather not talk about or whether you’re trying to be sincere about something that would be much more comfortable to be ironic about or vice versa, if you’re being sarcastic or ironic about something that people take seriously.”

Franzen points out also that journalists may face the same dangers and risks by being honest in their news reports. He mentions there’s some element of psychological risk as well.”There’s a discomfort,”he puts it.

So how to tell the stories in an honest manner without being killed or get hurt by people who may feel offended by the content of our writing? Thank God, Franzen provides us some guideline.

“The first thing you have to know is: Can I find a way to write about this uncomfortable thing that will not make people uncomfortable when they read it and that distance is always navigated by way of the piece’s tone. Do you like how you sound as you write about it? Or do you sound like a pompous asshole? And you can’t immediately know that! But as soon as you start hearing… Oh this I could read aloud and it would not kill me. And yet people might simultaneously enjoy it but also be slightly uncomfortable about it. Well, that’s where I want to be. And when you start hearing that, you have some paragraphs, that you can see,’OK, I can write the whole thing in that voice and it’ll be OK. At which point it’s safe to create an outline and go on.”

As a journalist by day, I was “lucky” I write about relatively unsensitive issues and topics. However, that will be a flat life to live, won’t it?

 

(Reference: “How Jonathan Franzen Writes – Big Think Interview” )

 

 

 

 

 

May Day Post:Be Your Own Employer, Writers!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XESDRP82png&w=420&h=315]

Lately nothing sucks more than being a worker for anyone else other than myself. I almost arrive to the point where I don’t give a single damn to any career demand before my eyes. I make money for a living. That is so true but my heart is dying. Either it is because of extreme boredom or too much pressure but I’d like to see how this low point could be the force I badly need to move to the world I wish to live in: writing world. Disappointment after disappointment is arising. Pressure and stress could do good when you need challenges but as it goes further, you may find yourself drowned in the pool of demands and critique.

So this is May Day. And as an aspiring writer, I told you how much I want to break free from the routines I have. I do need a break. I want to work on my own as a writer, and sadly enough they won’t understand and the system won’t allow me to do that.

Hence I need to have the exit strategy. I want to be a writer. I want to work on my own.

That means I must be self-disciplined. I need to work with ultimate passion. And  most importantly, what lures me so much about being a writer is the freedom it offers. You don’t have to hear your boss ever again.

Maybe you need to listen to your clients, or editors, or critics but still it feels different because you can work in solitude. That’s invaluable.

On the video above, American author Ray Bradbury was asked on how much money he managed to make during his first years of being an author.

The author cum lecturer answered:”It varies. The first year I made nothing. The second year I made nothing. The third year I made 30 dollars. The fourth year I made 40 dollars. […] The fifth year I made 80 dollars. Sixth year I made 200. Seventh year I made 300. Eight year 1200. Ninth year 2000. Tenth year 4000. Eleventh year 8000.”

Another lecture attende asked him,”How does an artist keep going during those early years of low income?”

Bradbury quipped:”Just get a part-time job! Anything! Unless you’re a mad man, you can’t make do in the art field. You gotta be inspired, and mad and excited and love it more than anything else in the world. Any girl who doesn’t like what you’re doing is out of your life. And if any of your friends, male friends, make fun of you, go to to hell with that. Out! Out! And you can get rid of all of these at once immediately. No more Thanksgiving dinners! (cracks of laughter) It has to be this kind of… I have got to do it! I simply gotta do it! And if you’re not this excited, you can’t win!”

 

 

David Sedaris: Write First then Collect Rubbish

david sedaris

David Sedaris’s face  was sweating a bit. In his left hand, you can see a white canvas shopping bag in which he threw some rubbish he found along the way. He complained,”It drives me crazy…” He took a stroll again and found more rubbish. This time, the rubbish was more than the bag could hold. He gave up collecting these cans, and walked again.

I know why Sedaris does such a thing on a daily basis because he CANNOT take it anymore. “Why people keep spoling the superb nature??!”I might scream on behalf of the American author.

“It’s so beautiful here (around his neighborhood in England) but look….! Look over there. People throw rubbish everywhere,”he approached it and took some with his bare right hand.

He doesn’t understand why people throw rubbish and hence the rubbish collection.

He admitted he can collect more if he walks from where he stands and the hill top before him. This peculiar activity has been part of his daily routine since he moved to the neighborhood.

Upon watching the interview, I just realized that Indonesia is not the only place where rubbish is a major problem. In a developed world, it’s been one since forever and as an anglophilic person, I can’t believe it. Simply can’t. How on earth do these first world nations fail to address the issue we in the third world ones are facing? Now, I know they’re not even any better in terms of rubbish management attitude. Yes, in cities and towns, there’s remote chance to find rubbish at public places but in the nature, humans are still humans regardless of their races, citizenship, welfare, and so on. They tend to think that rubbish can get rid of itself over time, so it’s ok to throw it away anytime anywhere they wish.

Sedaris added,”I write in the morning and I go out and pick up rubbish.” He keeps doing that despite the fact that some people think the author is obviously nuts. Well, that’s what I always thought when I started to move and live in Jakarta. I always wanted to pick the rubbish I see and find along my path but I think I’m simply too afraid of being called “eccentric”. I know it doesn’t violate the rule or norm but that’s unusually kind to environment and the super ignorant majority and that’s considered strange by laymen.

Sedaris is greatly eccentric and geez, that is sexy! I meant, intellectually sexy.

 

My Book Crush: The Mundane yet Mindblowingly Successful Book "Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls"

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Anyone has got his or her own crush, whether it be a guy crush, girl crush, coffee crush, shoes crush. Besides gadget crush, I’ve got this book crush, which is way more affordable than the aforementioned.

I can’t help myself hopping for joy upon getting “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls”, one of the most anticipated books of David Sedaris at a bookstore I frequent. I like it too because of the color of the cover. Brown, chocolate, woody. And oh, my dad is also a diabetic.

I saw the book more than a month ago and kept seeing that displayed for weeks after since. And at last, the temptation conquered me. I couldn’t say no forever every time I saw it.

There’s nothing particularly extraordinary, or shocking, or curiosity arousing that one can get from the stories written in it. The stories have no traditional villains that possess super power to abuse like Magneto who can read anyone else’s mind, no ‘cool’ conflicts which any serious, earnest authors would never write without. Sedaris’ stories are so so so usual and ordinary. If I can compare, it’s like your own personal diary but Sedaris’ looks more than just sentences written for diaries. The words are meant to be told. There’s some interactiveness in the tone. Sedaris’ wrote it as if he wrote a personal letter to his own pen pal, which wroked so great. The way he writes just like the way he tells funny stories.

There’re 26 brief stories in Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls. One of the most interesting recounts is when he told the readers the sour relationship with his own biological father. I totally can relate to that. As a son with less-than-impressive physical ability, size and strength, I know how hurt it may get for a child to be compared with other kids who the father thinks are much better than his own offspring. Now every time people compare me to someone else, I shun these folks because they choke me to death mentally.

His jokes are witty and so selectively picked you won’t get offended. And of course I can sense a great deal of cynicism and sarcasm, two things a great author has to possess.

This is How Jonathan Franzen Writes #writing

Jonathan Franzen on his writing process: Tone does matter.
Jonathan Franzen on his writing process: Tone does matter.
“It is such a huge question. I mean I really literally could talk all day and barely scratch the surface…

It’s always about TONE. If the tone is not there , then there’s no writing. And to get anything done, I need tone and a sense of outline. And the outline is much easier to get to the tone. I don’t have the heart to try to make an outline until I believe there is a piece of writing to be done and the piece of writing will exist as soon as I believe there is a tone to write it in.

A piece of writing is not interesting or worth doing if there is not some personal risks, if it is not dangerous in some fashion, whether your’re exposing some part of yourself you’d rather not talk about or whether it be being sincere about something that would be much comfortable to be ironic about and vice versa. If you’re being sarcastic or ironic about something that people people take seriously.

There can be some contempt risks. You don’t want to be seen writing such a thing or literally something somewhat obscene to do for journalists. But particularly if there is some elements of psychological risks, there is a discomfort. The first thing you have to know is: “Can I find the way to write about this uncomfortable thing that will not make people uncomfortable when they read it. And that distance is always navigated by way of a piece’s tone; do you like how you sound as you write about it or do you sound like a pompous asshole? And you cannot immediately know that but as soon as you start hearing, “Oh this I could read aloud and it would not kill me and yet people might simultaneously enjoy but also be slightly uncomfortable about it. That is where I wanna be.

And as you start hearing that by reading some paragraphs that you see,”Ok, I can read the whole thing in that voice and that will be OK”. At this point it is safe to make an outline and go on.

So that’s my process.” (As transcribed from a BIG THINK interview)