I learned some interesting facts about this author including that she owns a bookstore in Nashville. She writes on a treadmill desk. (I never heard of that before). She also has a tip for writers to work during their most productive time of day. She said it’s different for everyone and we all know when it is. She doesn’t have a set number of words she must write each day or a set schedule.
Of her nine novels, two children’s books and five nonfiction books, I’m not a fan of all the ones I’ve read. I admire how she has such diversity in her writing. Her fiction books take on different tones, styles and subject matters. That’s probably why I absolutely love some — and others not so much. I’ve actually put down one or two and didn’t finish them. On the other hand, her writing speaks to me and I find some of her books are outstanding.
Another one of my favorites by Ann Patchett.
Here’s a snippet from the WSJ article:
Reporter: I read that you wrote “Tom Lake,” in its entirety, on a treadmill desk. How was that experience, and what were those hours like?
Ann Patchett: I loved it. I would go to work around 9 a.m. I would stay on the treadmill anywhere from two to three hours at 1.5 [miles per hour], which is slow. Usually, I would get off when my feet hurt, when I would just start to think, “Oh. I’m tired.” Then I would get off, and I would not go back to the book for the rest of the day.
I always think about Liz Gilbert. All great advice comes from Elizabeth Gilbert. That’s what I should say. She says in her book “Big Magic” that everybody has two hours a day in which you’re your best, and everybody knows when those hours are. She said, “Don’t spend those hours answering email.” One of the things that makes the treadmill desk so great is the fact that the two things that I want to do in the morning when I get up are write and exercise. I’m like, “Oh. Look. I’ve done them both. That’s great.”
I also learned that she used to write for Bridal Guide and wrote so many articles for issues that they changed her byline for some so it didn’t look like she wrote the entire magazine. In one article she asked for wedding advice and shared a tip from her stepmother:
“[She] told me that the brain naturally focuses on what is wrong, what it doesn’t like—towels on the floor, or somebody who interrupts, or somebody who’s late,” Patchett, 59, says. “And so then, every time your partner does that, it’s just like hitting a gong.” The good things, by contrast, often go unnoticed or forgotten, her stepmother told her. “She said, ‘It is possible, with practice and discipline, to flip the equation.’”
Are you an Ann Patchett fan? What are some of her books you like? Who are your favorite authors?
I noticed this large hawk in the tree outside our casita, after I saw Olive the cat crouched against the screen door fascinated. I’ve been looking for it online and in a bird book, but so far haven’t come up with a species. It had lodged something in a branch and spent an hour eating it. Then it stayed in the tree for hours.
Now on to the topic of today’s blog post. The other morning while asleep I dreamed I was invited “spur of the moment” to a neighbor’s house that I don’t know very well for dinner. I was supposed to bring lamb chops and scallops and I had about one hour. I woke up, and was so relieved that I didn’t have to do this “spur of the moment.” Whew!
Those words stuck with me because I enjoy idioms and finding out the etymology of words.
Spur of the moment — in great haste, referring to the use of spurs to urge a horse to move.
That one idiom had me look up other ones including above board, aftermath, ahead of the curve, baloney, haywire, make a clean sweep and pass the muster. The information I found on Idiom Origins was in more detail, but here are my “Cliff Notes:”
Above Board — a gambling term from the 17th century derived from card playing when cards had to be above the table in view.
Underhand — the opposite of above board.
Aftermath — from the 17th century it means the result or consequence of something. In the 1500s it was called aftermowth and meant the second mowing of summer grass.
Ahead of the curve — became popular in the 1980s in business circles referring to a graph and being ahead of trends or in the forefront.
Baloney — means rubbish or nonsense. Two theories are that it came from the Irish immigrants word blarney. Second, it’s Italian based on cheap bologna that is made of bits and pieces
Haywire — when things go wrong or out of control. In the early 1900s haywire was used to describe something poorly constructed. It was based on cheap wire that tangled easily and was used to bale hay.
Pass Muster — a military term from the 15 or 16th century where a soldier passes inspection. Now it means you undergo a review or examination successfully.
Make a clean sweep — now means to win everything but it originated with cleaning or sweeping in the 19th century.
This is Waffles, my daughter’s pug in an ugly Christmas sweater I bought him. This story isn’t about Waffles, but Doggin, who my husband had growing up. But I thought this cute photo of Waffles was worth posting, since this about a dog.
I wrote a children’s fiction story called Doggin, based loosely on my husband’s dog. It was published in the Los Angeles Times section for kids, which unfortunately, they got rid of along with the wonderful editor who put me on contract.
Here’s the story:
BY ELIZABETH WICKHAM
One day after school, Billy found an empty kennel.
“Doggin!” Billy called. He had to find Doggin before Granny did.
Billy ran to Mrs. Fixie’s house.
“That hound of yours was here,” Mrs. Fixie said. “Look at my flower garden!”
Clips I saved in a scrapbook from my journalism internship as a student at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Thanks to fellow blogger from Writing from the Heart with Brian for his post about “The Elements of Style” by Strunk and White. It brought back memories of my first encounter with the powerful little book that has been by my side since my internship as a “stringer” for a Washington state newspaper.
The Elements of Style was listed as one of the 100 best and most influential books written in English since 1923 by Time in its 2011 list.
I haven’t thought about those days “like forever.”
Our professor, who was an intimidating former editor/publisher of a Northwest paper before he retired to “professoring,” selected 12 students to move to Olympia, Wash., our state Capitol. He assigned each student a newspaper where he believed they’d fit.
For example, a single mom who was older than the rest of us, got the Seattle Times, the biggest newspaper in the state. I was assigned to The Daily Chronicle and covered news for Centralia and Chehalis — the midpoint between Seattle and Portland, Ore.
I was surprised to be one of the chosen. In fact, I was scared to death having no interest or knowledge about government and politics. How was I going to write about it?
I looked up to — or rather worshipped my older brother at the time. He was the golden boy who was smart, good looking and could do no wrong in my eyes as well as my parents.
We got together so he could go over the basics of government with me. I was going to get a crash course in politics.
“What’s a Gop?” I asked pronouncing the word so it rhymed with cop. I was referring to the GOP or Grand Old Party.
“Is it too late to get out of this?” my brother asked. “Please, do not go!”
I was so afraid to go, that I procrastinated and showed up to the state Capitol several days late. My excuse was my part-time job at a restaurant. I was comfortable in my apartment with my roomie, watching General Hosptial and eating Kraft Mac-n-Cheese. I liked working with career waiters and waitresses. It was so less threatening than the unknown I faced.
I missed orientation, meeting the other students, but finally mustered up courage and made my appearance. My professor gave me a one-on-one tour. My best friend’s dad was a lobbyist for Weyerhauser and invited me to his office for my second crash course — this one about the timber industry. His wife was a big wig in the department of Natural Resources and they took an interest in me.
They helped me get off my feet and I busied myself with my first article, writing it longhand on a legal pad.
“I never would have selected you if I knew you wrote longhand,” the professor said stopping at my desk. “I can usually tell. Put down the pen and use the typewriter from now on.”
The 12 students, including me, shared one big room with our desks in two rows. The professor had a private office and critiqued our stories. He made us rewrite them before sending them via wire or snail mail to our newspapers. If there was a tight deadline, I’d call my editor at the paper and read the story to him as he transcribed it.
One of the students put up a picture of a cowboy and named him Bill. Then he posted all our headlines that included the word “bill.” Bill would to this. Bill would do that. Bill would do all sorts of things.
I turned in my first article to my professor. He called me into his office. It was marked with lots of red ink. He told me it was a great puff piece for Weyerhaeuser, but instructed me to get both sides of the story. He gave me names of several people to call who were in government or lobbied against the timber giant. He also showed me how to cut and paste my article so the most important facts were up on top.
Yes, back then we cut and paste with scissors and glue!
The article above about RIF by lottery above was from a bill that a Senator in my newspaper’s district proposed. My editor asked me to write about it. The bill and the article was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek. I got a call from a congressman reading me the riot act over it.
“You must feel so powerful!” he yelled at me.
I guess he missed the joke — even though I have the word “joked” in the article. Sheesh!
What memories do you have of an internship or first job? What did you learn?
I saw a story on TV that intrigued me to find out more.
Here’s a summary from Quartz:
Author Jane Friedman spotted more books on Amazon this week that falsely claimed to be written by her than ones she actually wrote.
At least five books under her name were taken down fromAmazon yesterday (Aug. 8) after Friedman wrote a blog post on Aug. 7 detailing her experience findingbooks under her name being sold on Amazon and listed on Goodreads, the Amazon-owned social media and book-logging platform for readers.
With the advent of AI, people are creating books in the voice of authors and selling them on Amazon as that author’s book. Jane Friedman had trouble contacting Amazon and getting the imposter books being sold in her name off their site. She discovered she needs to trademark her name to have more protection against this scam.
Here’s another story about the fake IA books on Amazon:
Five books for sale on Amazon were removed after author Jane Friedman complained that the titles were falsely listed as being written by her. The books, which Friedman believes were written by AI, were also listed on the Amazon-owned reviews site Goodreads.
“It feels like a violation, because it’s really low quality material with my name on it,” Friedman told the Guardian. The Ohio-based author has written several books about the publishing industry, and the fraudulent titles mimicked her real work. How to Write and Publish an eBook Quickly and Make Money and A Step-by-Step Guide to Crafting Compelling eBooks, Building a Thriving Author Platform, and Maximizing Profitability were two of the listed books. Friedman’s real books include The Business of Being a Writer and Publishing 101.
One of the falsely attributed books’ descriptions read: “This book offers practical strategies, tips, and techniques to help writers streamline their writing process, accelerate their eBook publication timeline, and maximize their earning potential.”
With vacation coming up and a busy schedule of getting things done before I leave, I’ve decided to change my blogging schedule. Currently, I’m posting Monday through Friday. I’m going to cut back to Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I think the new schedule will keep my blog fresher and also allow me time to work on other projects like revising a novel.
After reading Ally Bean’s AMA (Ask Me Anything) post, I learned a good tip from her.
“As a newbie I wish I’d understood that LESS IS MORE. Early on I drove myself batty posting daily, often long wordy posts, because I thought I was supposed to do that. But I learned otherwise and scaled back to a weekly-ish schedule. Readers seem to respond positively to less from me, than to more from me. That’s the lesson. “
I know many people post seven days a week. I don’t know how they do it. I have the hardest time coming up with ideas five times a week, let alone daily. I need days off to recharge my brain.
I’ll try this new schedule for the rest of the summer and re-evaluate it in September.
What are your thoughts about “less is more?” What is your schedule for blogging?
This is a photo I found of Caeleb Dressel from last year. If you haven’t heard of him, he’s a seven-time Olympic gold medalist and world record-holder. I remember watching him swim years ago at meets with my daughter. They are the same age and he’s one of the top swimmers in the world.
I read something very encouraging. It was from the Wall Street Journal and here was the opening paragraph:
Elite swimmers peak in their early 20s, powerlifters peak at 35 and equestrians later still, on average. Creativity peaks either very early in our careers or later, depending on how we think. Our ability to quickly absorb facts reaches its zenith in our late teens, while our vocabulary skills crest in our sixth decade.
This article is called: “Here’s When We Hit Our Physical and Mental Peaks: Even when we’ve peaked in one endeavor, we’re likely getting better in another written by Clare Ansberry.
I especially like the bit about our vocabulary skills improving into our sixth decade. That gives me hope.
Economists, sports scientists and psychologists have analyzed Olympic performances and chess matches, as well as thousands of online quizzes to determine the average age when people peak mentally and physically. They are trying to understandhow our brain and bodies work and if there are lessons on strengthening each. Checkmate Chess players’ performance rises sharply until the early 20s and peaks around the age of 35.
The good news is that while we may have peaked in one endeavor, we are likely getting better in another.
“At every age, you are getting better at some things and worse at others,” says Joshua Hartshorne, an assistant professor of psychology at Boston College, who researches how various cognitive functions change with age.
I didn’t realize at the time I posted the photo above of Dressel (which I did because of the first words of the WSJ article “elite swimmers,”) that after almost a year off from swimming he swam at US Nationals last weekend. For swimmers, who practice six days a week, often two practices a day — a year is a lifetime.
He left the 2022 World Championships in Hungary while the meet was still going on. Everyone thought that was odd and the explanation was health reasons. Michael Phelps was one of the first Olympic athletes to talk about his struggles with mental health. I listened to Phelps discuss his battle with depression at an event and I wrote about it HERE.
Dressel returned to the pool at U.S. Nationals this past weekend, and from what I’ve read he feels like he’s in a good place and happy to be back. Although he didn’t make the US World team and was seconds off his best times (which as a sprinter is another lifetime) he has his sights set on 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. His coach and teammates say it’s the happiest they’ve seen him in years and his presence on the team is a huge plus for everyone.
Back to the article, above. I think it’s encouraging that although we may lose some skills as we get older, other ones get better as we age. I’m also happy for Caeleb Dressel that he was able to rekindle his love of swimming and took the time to get the weight of the world’s expectations off his shoulders.