Thoughts for Thursday - Kerouac speaks

From Jack Kerouac, Windblown World: The Journals of Jack Kerouac 1947-1954:

Another thought that helps a writer as he works along--let him write his novel "the way he'd like to see a novel written." This helps a great deal freeing you from the fetters of self-doubt and the kind of self-mistrust that leads to over-revision, too much calculation, preoccupation with "what others would think." Look at your own work and say, "This is a novel after my own heart!" Because that's what it is anyway, and that's the point--it's worry that must be eliminated for the sake of individual force. In spite of all this insouciant advice, I myself advanced slowly today, but not poorly, working on the final draft of the chapter. I'm a little rusty. Oh and what a whole lot of bunk I could write this morning about my fear that I can't write, I'm ignorant and worst of all, I'm an idiot trying to achieve something I can't possibly do. It's in the will, in the heart! To hell with these rotten doubts. I defy them and spit on them. Merde!


Times they are a-changin'

WASHINGTON Nov 2, 2006 (AP)— President Bush said Wednesday he wants Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney to remain with him until the end of his presidency, extending a job guarantee to two of the most-vilified members of his administration.
"Both those men are doing fantastic jobs and I strongly support them," Bush said in an interview with The Associated Press and others.
On the war in Iraq, Bush said the military has not asked for an increase in U.S. forces beyond the 144,000 already there. He said U.S. generals have told him "that the troop level they got right now is what they can live with."

WASHINGTON Nov 8, 2006 (AP)— Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, architect of an unpopular war in Iraq, intends to resign after six stormy years at the Pentagon, Republican officials said Wednesday.

Officials said Robert Gates, former head of the CIA, would replace Rumsfeld. The development occurred one day after midterm elections that cost Republicans control of the House, and possibly the Senate, as well. Surveys of voters at polling places said opposition to the war was a significant contributor to the Democratic victory.

Uh, would that be a flip-flop, Mr. President? Or a cut and run?


If you're reading this...you're alive

I've been catching up a bit on my backlogged blog reading, and have discovered a disturbing trend: Lots of us seem to be sick or suffering financial/career setbacks, witnessing a loved one's illness, or otherwise getting trounced on by the fickle Fates.

I don't normally share much in the way of the Personal; I try to blog about books, literature and the writing life. But, given the general malaise out there and given how everyone rallied around me at my low point last week, I wanted to share something that might encourage others.

Old LK here has suffered from severe depression for many, many years. After lots of hard work (and expensive therapy, which is probably one reason I can't afford a house), I am managing it. (Though I do have my troughs, especially in the fall.) So, though I don't have much experience in much else, I do believe I can impart some lessons I've learned from dealing with the Big D: 1) whatever awfulness is happening will pass 2) whatever awfulness is happening, we're alive, and that beats the alternative. And, without getting too kooky-spooky here, I believe one of our jobs on earth is to find meaning in suffering. Even when it seems especially meaningless. Maybe especially then.

Anyway, let's all put our collective vibes to thank the Universe for being able to see the sun rise today and look forward to starting with a clean slate tomorrow. That's my first and last saccharine sermon. Amen.

Now, if you're an American: Go vote!


What I'm reading

Hello, and happy Monday. First off, I want to thank everyone for their comments to my last two posts. I intend to go through them very carefully. But they really helped...man, did I take a dive last week.

So, enough sniveling. Today, I'm happy to report, that I made progress this weekend Gearing up for Serious Writing. I moved my home computer and desk to the front living room windows and bought a soft, fuzzy carpet to rest my feet on when the winter chills come. I need to buy a new computer -- no way out of it. My original iMac, at the wee age of six years, is considered a dinosaur already.

And I found a great book to help me with Page Fright: The Courage to Write by Ralph Keyes. If you are like me (and just about any other writer) and would rather eat glass than sit in front of a blank page and type or submit work, this book is for you! It's rather comforting to know that writers like Margaret Atwood and E.B. White have battled anxiety. He even talked about how Herman Melville's name was misspelled (Meville) in the first few editions of his book! Ha, it happens even to the Great Ones!

Other books I'm reading:

Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss: You know how when you start a novel and you get that special tingle of anticipation, realizing that you are in store for a really wonderful read? Well, that's how I feel about this book. I am about 30 pages into this and loving it. I don't think I've felt this kind of pull of from a novel since I read Coetzee's Disgrace. The prose is fresh, and I wish I had a copy in front of me to quote some examples for you. However, I will do a future post on this one. This was the Man Booker Prize winner for 2006. If you don't have a copy, run out and get one.

Antonia White, Frost in May: Finished this, actually. Easy read, and I'm going to start the second book in this series of four. This book deals with a little girl's life in a convent school at turn-of-the-century in England. You can imagine what the nuns back then put children through. Everything was a sin, even not finishing your daily cabbage. My, times have changed.

Lawrence Rees, Auschwitz: Not an easy read. This book presents a detailed examination on how Auschwitz came to be. What made this book different from other ones dealing with this topic is how the author presents an argument at how the Nazis created the problem of dealing with its Jewish population, and their solutions (take their homes, put them in ghettos, etc.) created even more problems. These self-created problems escalated and turned into full-blown genocide. In other words, the Holocaust did not start as an ideological conviction; rather, it became a "practical" solution to a political problem. Chilling.

Irene Nemirovsky, Suite Francaise. I'm about halfway through this, and I enjoy the rather lyrical prose and find the subject -- foreign occupation of France during WW2 and how it affected the French citizens -- interesting and one I have not yet read about in other novels. From what I've read so far, I'd recommend it. I'm hoping to read the other half sometime in the not-too-distant future.

Off I go for now. Happy reading, everyone.