The best reason for writing novels

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“I think sometimes that the best reason for writing novels is to experience those four and a half hours after you write the final word. The last time it happened to me, I uncorked a good Sancerre I’d been keeping and drank it standing up with the bottle in my hand, and then I lay down in my backyard on the paving stones and stayed there a long time, crying. It was sunny, late autumn, and there were apples everywhere, overripe and stinky.”

— Zadie Smith, from her essay collection Changing My Mind

. . . . . . . . . . . .

Things I’ve been thinking about lately:

  • One’s heightened powers of observation of the natural and social worlds, which come when you know that you might have to write something and then share it with someone.
  • Relearning Japanese and how it is killing my brain. I feel only slightly justified to learn that the Foreign Service Institute ranked Japanese as the hardest language for an English-speaker to learn. Should that make me feel proud, or super-super depressed? I’m really leaning toward the latter.
  • Getting a (canine) sibling for Pyrrha. But only kind of thinking about this, because two dogs is a lot of dogs. And I think Pyrrha is pretty perfect, and what if we ended up with a four-legged terror?
  • Fall! Beautiful, glorious fall!

Happy weekend, everyone.

Monday Snax

We had a perfect, celebration-filled weekend in Davidson and Charlotte. Complete set of photos here!

Marriaged!
We watched these two get married. Warmest congratulations, Jonathan and Keara!
Glowing with love
We got all dressed up.
It's Pizookie time!
We took the Pizookie challenge.
Family love
And we welcomed home our beloved world traveler!

 Snax with a piping hot cup of darjeeling tea, imported straight from the region itself:

What I’ve Done. Just reading the list of things Grace did these past six months is enough to make one’s head spin. Proud of you, muppet, but mostly I’m just really, really glad that you’re home. (Como Say What?)

Memories of Chekhov. An excerpt from a new book of people’s opinions and stories about the great Anton Chekhov. Delightful. (New York Review of Books)

The Lake House, Part 2. Does this look like the absolute perfect vacation or what? I’m enamored. (Sweet Fine Day)

Teal Blue Envelope Calligraphy. Must learn how to write like this. (Paper Tastebuds)

An Epistolary Confession. I haven’t written many letters lately, and this thoughtful piece by Jenni Simmons on the Curator made me want to revive my practice of regular letter writing. (The Curator)

No-Bake Chocolate Cake. I haven’t actually made this yet, but it sounds perfect–especially since our temperamental old oven makes baking a terrifying and often tragic adventure. (Mint)

The Unconditional Love of Dogs. This is why I think keeping pets, especially dogs, matters to humanity. (Doggerel)

Hover Cat. I feel that this GIF sums up the personality of most cats and dogs. (Animals Being Di*ks)

How well I would write if I were not here!

How well I would write if I were not here! If between the white page and the writing of words and stories that take shape and disappear without anyone’s ever writing them there were not interposed that uncomfortable partition which is my person! Style, taste, individual philosophy, subjectivity, cultural background, real experience, psychology, talent, tricks of the trade: all the elements that make what I write recognizable as mine seem to me a cage that restricts my possibilities. If I were only a hand, a severed hand that grasps a pen and writes… Who would move this hand? The anonymous throng? The spirit of the times? The collective unconscious? I do not know. It is not in order to be the spokesman for something definable that I would like to erase myself. Only to transmit the writable that waits to be written, the tellable that nobody tells.

— Italo Calvino, If on a winter’s night a traveler

Renewing

“It is the function of art to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see. The writer shakes up the familiar scene, and, as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it.”

– Anais Din