How You Can Help During the Coronavirus Pandemic 

As the days march on and the only thing that feels certain is devastating uncertainty, my colleagues and I consider it both our mission and privilege to help keep readers’ spirits up and do whatever we can to see them through to the other side of this. There always seems to be pressure on us to make something of “free time” and the paradox of our current moment is that we have a lot of it and can’t really do anything with it but wait.

Source: How You Can Help During the Coronavirus Pandemic | Literary Hub

An important source for writers, publishers, and readers, Literary Hub has increased its output of essays, poetry, historical precedents, philosophy, and lists of books we might read while staying at home. Many of these offerings are grouped together under “These Times” in Lit Hub’s daily newsletter of literary links.

Now they’ve taken a new step by creating a list of practical suggestions for helping out during the pandemic. These include donating blood, assistance to the elderly and other homebound individuals, making/distributing healthcare supplies, and helping sterilize shared spaces. They include places where one can donate money and promise to update their list of suggestions as new ideas arise.

For those people who want to do more than wait and hope for the best, this list is a great addition to the local and regional lists you may be seeing in the newspapers, TV news, and social media.

–Malcolm

 

Oscar Nominations Prove That Hollywood Still Hasn’t Waked Up and Smelled the Coffee 

Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” appealed to a dangerous brand of white, male nostalgia that evoked a mythologized time that was good for them and no one else. The 2020 Oscar nominations are an embarrassingly transparent primal scream by the Hollywood establishment hearkening back to the same.

Source: The 2020 Oscar Nominations Prove That Hollywood Still Hasn’t Seen Through the Smoke | Literary Hub

For several years now, acerbic pundits–including hosts and others of the televised Academy Awards ceremony–have said that the Oscars are really the “White People’s Movie Awards.” We’re also hearing that the awards are quickly becoming irrelevant because they don’t reflect population trends or attempts by various politicians and groups at greater diversity in all areas of the country, including publishing and filmmaking.

At present, whites (other than Hispanic whites) make up 73% of the U.S. population, while African Americans are at 12.7% and Hispanics are at 16.6%. We read that by 2044, the majority race in the U. S. will no longer be white. This is the reality. Some say that minorities should be represented (in various fields) to an extent larger than their percentage of the population due to long-time discrimination. (That’s a discussion for another kind of blog.)

It would be kind of petty for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to establish a policy that 12.7% of its nominations must be African American and 16.6% must be Hispanic. Needless to say–and this is perhaps debatable–nominations are based on merit rather than race or gender. It’s easy to see, though, that the nominations are skewed toward the traditional mainstream white (or WASP) idea of America.

We can and should do better.

Malcolm

 

 

 

The Writer’s Solitude 

“A psychiatrist friend once pointed out to me that one of the definitions of psychosis is a fixed belief in an imaginary world lasting months or years, which no one but the patient himself is able to perceive. He wondered aloud if this wasn’t also a decent definition of a novelist. Having recently emerged from five years of concentration on my own imaginary world of my latest book, I think he has a point. Which has left me considering the disposition that leads people to write in the first place, and the relationship between their actual and imaginary lives.”

Source: The Perpetual Solitude of the Writer | Literary Hub

Adam Haslett adds that in order to interact with others through our writing, we have to have periods of alone time first.

It’s odd, I think, that those who choose solitude are viewed as antisocial, perhaps nuts, by others until they publish a well-received book. It’s culture shock to come out of one’s cave and interact with others and those others, while they like saying they know those authors, react to their emergence from that cave with the same concern they do when a mental patient escapes.

What a strange world writing is.

Malcolm

I Talked to 150 Writers and Here’s the Best Advice They Had 

  1. Neglect everything else.

“It starts with a simple fact: If you’re not making the time to write, no other advice can help you. Which is probably why so many of the writers I talk to seem preoccupied with time-management. “You probably have time to be a halfway decent parent and one other thing,” David Mitchell, the author of Cloud Atlas, told me. That can mean mustering the grit to let other responsibilities languish. As he put it in short: ‘Neglect everything else’.”

Source: I Talked to 150 Writers and Here’s the Best Advice They Had | Literary Hub

After getting past a really strange writing process John Irving advocated, this feature story has a lot of food. I quoted the first item on the list because I think we find it hard to neglect everything else. For one thing, everything else is easier than writing. Plus, the other stuff usually has deadlines and measurable results like, say, getting the yard mowed and not missing your doctor’s appointment.

Unless you’re a professional writer, freelance or novelist, you probably don’t have firm writing deadlines. Novels often take forever to write. So it’s easy to put off writing that novel while doing other stuff that can actually be crossed off a TO DO list.

We say our writing matters. If so, it’s got to be near the top of the list of things we actually spend time doing.

–Malcolm