If We Were Having Coffee // Spring Break Started Early!

“Sometimes life is merely a matter of coffee and whatever intimacy a cup of coffee affords.”

Richard Brautigan

Hello, dear readers. Thank you for stopping by for a bit of coffee and catching up. I almost didn’t make it today! Fatigue is kicking my butt, and my medication still hasn’t taken effect yet, and that means I slept most of the day away.

The clouds outside aren’t helping. It seems our warm, dry weather streak is over.

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you that thanks to the break in the warm, dry weather I got an extra day of spring break. The local news predicted blizzard-like conditions, so school was canceled which means I got to stay home too.

But here in Denver, Colorado what happens in one part of town can be very different from another. Some parts of the city got hit bad, in my area we got mostly rain, and by early afternoon the slush had melted and dried. I have a feeling out district will take a hit with the public for this one, but it won’t matter. It’s hard to decide whether or not to brave the conditions and hope for the best. The public forgets that safety is most important, especially in the Transportation department.

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you that even though it’s officially spring break, I still have to work but it’ll be easy work: organizing, filing, spreadsheets, cleaning up, that sort of thing. I can’t exactly afford to lose five days of pay, but I can afford to lose some, so I’m just working six hours a day, and only three days out of the week, Monday thru Wednesday.

Thursday and Friday, my girlfriend and I are planning a day trip out-of-town and a day in-town. Thursday we’re heading to Denver Art Museum for a very geeky Star Wars costume exhibit then out for seafood and sangria. Friday we’ll be heading up to Boulder for the day. I’m not sure what we’ll do up there, but I’m hoping for lots of shopping and more good food.

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Last week wasn’t so bad. My route wasn’t running, and I managed to steer clear of having to do extra work, so that was good. I had hoped to spend all that free time working on a whole bunch of writing projects but, it turns out, I only had time and energy for one.

I entered a fiction contest at The Writing Collective. You can read it if you like but it isn’t my best work. I found out about the contest a little late and between work, my guts still acting up, and a last-minute dinner and drinks date with a cousin who got laid off from work, I didn’t have time. I wanted to give up, but I thought maybe I should try anyway. I thought I should do my best and see what happens. *shrug*

I also finished my first submission for Aloe. I’ll be submitting it today, but there is no guarantee of acceptance. If they agree to publish it, I’ll wait a few weeks before working on another. If they don’t, I’ll get started right away on another.

I’m hoping that this week I can finally get back on track around here. I have a ton of drafts to finish and the A to Z challenge is just around the corner, and I have barely got any ideas together. I have a theme, which I have yet to announce, another thing I’m behind on, but I have nothing written and a few letters lacking a topic.

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If we were having coffee I would tell you that we’ve come to that time, I have to go. After spending the day in and out of naps, plus sweating over cleaning and writing, it’s time I took care of myself. I’m thinking a nice cold hard cider and a long hot shower, at the same time!*

I hope you had a great week. I hope your weekend was nice and relaxing. I hope you’ll take a moment to drop by the comments and let me know how you are doing and what you’ve been up to.

Until ext time :)

*Some might consider a “shower cider” to be outside the spirit of the “shower beer.” Unfortunately, beer doesn’t agree with my stomach so cider it is and I don’t care what those people think.

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Written for to the Weekend Coffee Share link-up hosted by Nerd in the Brain

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Why Do I Write?

The simple truth is,
I just like the sound of bone on brick and
the feel of brain matter against barriers satisfies me.

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Check out my weekly-ish newsletter for important weekly reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering (:

Written in response to Ink in Third’s Three Line Thursday Prompt: Blocked

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M.H. Abrams on a Writer’s Desperation

Writing, like any art or discipline, takes practice and dedication to learning about the craft from those who have come before you. In learning, I like to teach, so each week I will take a piece of advice from the greats, both living and dead, famous and not, and apply their lessons to my own work and share my thoughts and progress with you.

This week I have chosen a quote from the American author and literary critic M.H. Abrams.

23abrams-1-obit-blog427Meyer Howard “Mike” Abrams, born July 23, 1912, was the son of Eastern European Jewish immigrants in Long Branch, New Jersey.The

The son of a house painter and first in his family to go to college, he entered Harvard University as an undergraduate in 1930. He went into English because, he says, “there weren’t jobs in any other profession…, so I thought I might as well enjoy starving, instead of starving while doing something I didn’t enjoy.” After earning his baccalaureate in 1934, Abrams won a Henry fellowship to Magdalene College, Cambridge, where his tutor was I. A. Richards. He returned to Harvard for graduate school in 1935 and received a master’s degree in 1937 and a Ph.D. in 1940.

During World War II, he served at the Psycho-Acoustics Laboratory at Harvard. He describes his work as solving the problem of voice communications in a noisy military environment by establishing military codes that are highly audible and inventing selection tests for personnel who had a superior ability to recognize sound in a noisy background.

In 1945 Abrams became a professor at Cornell University. The literary critics Harold Bloom, Gayatri Spivak and E. D. Hirsch, and the novelists William H. Gass and Thomas Pynchon were among his students.

Abrams was an American literary critic, best known for works on Romanticism, in particular, his book The Mirror and the Lamp. In it Abrams shows that until the Romantics, literature was typically understood as a mirror reflecting the real world in some kind of mimesis; whereas for the Romantics, writing was more like a lamp: the light of the writer’s inner soul spilled out to illuminate the world. In 1998, Modern Library ranked The Mirror and the Lamp one of the 100 greatest English-language nonfiction books of the 20th century.

Under Abrams’s editorship, The Norton Anthology of English Literature became the standard text for undergraduate survey courses across the U.S. and a major trendsetter in literary canon formation.Abrams was not only the general editor of The Norton Anthology, but he was also the editor of The Romantic Period (1798–1832) in that anthology, and he evaluated writers and their reputations.

Abrams died on April 21, 2015, in Ithaca, New York, at the age of 102

“I think most of the things I published have been published out of desperation—not because they were perfected.”

— M.H. Abrams

I still do not have the honor of calling myself a published author. My book has stalled, and I am looking to other things, for now, but I think I do know something of a writer’s desperation and reasons for publishing. I have felt it with the publishing of every post, poem, personal essay, and story I have posted here and elsewhere on the internet. Surely these published pieces, bits and parts of my life and larger themes, were pushed out into the world out of at the same sort of desperation too and surely none of them left me perfected.

The word desperate, to lovers of this craft, means two things:

  1. (of a person) having a great need or desire for something.
  2. (of an act or attempt) tried in despair or when everything else has failed; having little hope of success.

A writer is a person with a great need for expression and communication. We write because there is nothing else that will satisfy that need. Art maybe, but writers often gravitate toward the clear expression that language can offer over the murky interpretations of art. We work to satisfy these needs, and we do it with very little hope for success. Still, we persist. Our need outweighs the hopelessness I suppose. Our need will not allow us to feel hopeless. It has to work, because if it doesn’t, who are we?

I am desperate to say something, to tell you something. All writers are. A writer’s work is at least hard, even if it is not always fast. Writers bend all their time, giving as much as they can give to words, words, words, always the words. Giving everything they h to getting them out of ourselves and into the world hoping to have an effect. Hoping to move someone, hoping to become and move themselves.

Why the urgency? Why the intensity? Why do whole worlds hinge on our abilities and dedication?. Why do these things scratch at us so? Why do we hurt ourselves this way? What do we hope to achieve?

The desperation stems from our inevitable deaths I am certain. No tomorrow is promised, we know that, and writers feel it more acutely than most. We know that if we hope to leave behind the thing in our chests beating to get out, we must work hard and fast. We must make choices and sacrifices in our lives, and in the work too, to do just enough, to say just enough, to get the message out in a way you can live and die with.

Desperation is a writer’s friend. Desperation leads to an outpouring of work. It leads to pens flying across pages and fingers flying across keyboards. It leads to a body of work that might be less than perfect but at least says what you were meant to say.

But I wonder, what will happen to the ones who don’t make it?  With a life lived straining toward work we may never get right? How can a writer cope with in obscurity without acknowledgment? What if I am among those who no one reads, hears of, or remembers? The thought alone makes me want to pick up a pencil and write furiously whatever comes to mind. The thought alone fills me with anxiety and hunger. I am reminded of my drive and my reason: To tell my truth. To get at what makes us all so great and terrible a force in this universe, even while we mean nothing and matter, not at all.

Desperation is a writer’s friend, and it may be the very defining thing that sets a writer apart from dabblers and fakes. Charles Bukowski wrote that a writer without desperation is nothing at all, and I am inclined to agree. Writer’s need to feel always on the verge of losing life and sanity without words or our work wanes both in quality and quantity. We forget to care about the truth and telling it, in just enough time.

When you sit down to write you should be sweating like you’ve just sat down to disarm and disassemble a bomb set to go off in seconds. You have to be struggling like you need food, water, or air. Write like the world depends on it, like your loved ones lives depended on it, like your life and legacy depend on it, no matter what your subject, from dystopian future to sci-fi, to memoir, to children’s books, and on down to little blog posts like these. Write like it truly matters whether you succeed or fail.

Of course, there ought to be balance, like all things. Walk the line between desperation and contentment, between urgency and patience. There has to be positivity and joy when you sit to write too, not just fear and anxiety. Find peace and focus in the knowledge that you are doing the work you were made for and that someone out there will agree. Even if it is one person you save through your sweating, you will have achieved your objective.

Balance is what keeps you getting better. It’s what keeps your ideas clear, organized, and coherent. Your words will mean nothing if rushed out there disjointed and jumbled.

Do not fear the desperation, the need, let it push you to stay dedicated to getting better and getting your name out there. Keep hold of that need, it will keep you going, and remember that without it, you are no writer. Keep it, cultivate it, let it guide you, but do not let it control you and never let it hinder your message.

Be desperate to get better, to learn, and to hone your craft. Be desperate to be different, desperate to show the world something new.

 

Be desperate to get it right.

 

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Quote via Alec Nevala-Lee

Biographical information via Goodreads and Wikipedia

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Currently // February 2017 or Spring Will be Here Soon, Right?

Wow, February has come and gone already, and for a short month, I sure managed to pack a ton of emotion into it. The beginning was hard, the middle was sweet, and the end has been full of joy and hope. February was one of those months that changes you a little bit. It didn’t go by quiet or calm, and it won’t ever be forgotten. Before it’s all over, I wanted to take a moment to share with you how I’m feeling, all the changes I have made, and everything I am looking forward to in the coming month.

Here is what I am currently:

Writing something for Femplain‘s newest project, Aloe, “a self-care focused community.” I got the news just this past weekend that my application to be a contributing blogger was accepted and I am so excited for this opportunity. I hope to contribute monthly if they like what I have to say, and I hope you will check them out and support what this amazing community is doing.

Planning more blog posts and more big projects. April will bring the A to Z blogging challenge and, if I can get my life together in time, Write_on, a letter writing challenge, so I’ll be in planning mode for a long while yet. If you are participating in A to Z, or if you’d like to get a letter from me (no promises!) drop a note after the post and let me know so we can link up.

Making time to start doing the things I love again. Spring is coming, soon, I think, I hope. It’s been so long since the world didn’t feel dead….and I want to make sure I have a calendar full of events to attend. I’m going out movies again. I have all the museum free days down. I have the roller derby bouts saved. I am even keeping on top of upcoming protest marches, art events, and ballet and theater performances. I want to make the most of my time before winter comes around again.

Anticipating everything! I feel really anxious to move forward, learn new things, and try something different in the coming months. I’m not entirely sure what those things will be or what they mean, and what I do know I am keeping close. Just know I am out here, trying to create value and connections and I am very excited about it.

Reading Plato’s Republic, still, ugh. I am finally over the halfway mark, but it has been a real struggle. Luckily I had the bright idea to buy myself a little incentive to finish. When I am done, and only when I am done, I get to read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood in preparation for the premiere of the TV adaptation on Hulu in April. I also bought Orlando by Virginia Woolf, referred to as ‘the longest and most charming love-letter in literature’ and written from one woman to another.

Watching Big Little Lies on HBO and the entire collection of Samurai Jack episodes on Hulu in anticipation of the show’s return on March 11th after something like a 13-year hiatus! Bonus: Check out the Big Little Lies soundtrack. There are some real gems in there :)

Feeling so, so good! I am feeling better, good things are happening, and we are on the downhill side of winter. There is still so much bad going on in the world, but I feel energized by the way I see people coming together. I see so much more compassion and awareness all around me every day. I have a feeling that we will come out of these bad times better than ever.

Needing a vacation! We are experiencing a bit of an employee shortage at my day job site, so management has decided to crack down on time off requests. I was hoping this year I would be able to treat myself to a few extra three and four-day weekends here and there, but instead, I am working more than most. Luckily Spring break is just over three weeks away, and they can’t take that from me!

Loving my newest productivity app download called Fabulous. I’ve been using it for a few weeks now, and I really feel like it’s helped me find a set of habits and a routine that helps me get shit done. I don’t think it’ll work for everyone, but it is well made, gorgeous, and worth a look if you are looking for reminders, inspiration, and timers all in one place.

Hating Donald Trump, still, every day. Actually, that isn’t fair. I also hate Kellyann Conway, Tomi Lahren, Betsy DeVos, Paul Ryan, Jeff Sessions, and Rex Tillerson too. I hate people who are “taking back” an America that never belonged to them. I hate their lies. I hate them for holding us back. I hate them for the harm they cause. I make no apologies for my feelings.

Hoping for a big win for transgender rights next month in the Supreme Court. The LGBTQ community is already so vulnerable, but transgender youth are the least protected among us. We should all be fighting to make them feel comfortable and valid and helping them get through what is an already tough time in life. We should not be telling them to use bathrooms they aren’t comfortable with or safe in and we should not be isolating them in bathrooms that set them apart as “other.” The left needs this win. Compassion needs this win. Our children need this win.

All in all, this month was a good one, in the end. I learned so much about myself and found a new perspective and a new motivation. I am looking forward to March. I’m looking forward to working harder and seeing bigger and bigger results. I am grateful too for every opportunity and privilege, and I hope to start paying my dues and making this world a little bit better.

How was your February? What did you do, learn, love, and hate? What are you looking forward to? Drop a note below

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The inspiration for this post comes from Andrea at Create.Share.Love.

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Willa Cather on Telling The Truth

Writing, like any art or discipline, takes practice and dedication to learning about the craft from those who have come before you. In learning, I like to teach, so each week I will take a piece of advice from the greats, both living and dead, famous and not, and apply their lessons to my own work and share my thoughts and progress with you.

This week I have chosen a quote from the American writer Willa Cather.

Willa Sibert Cather, born December 7, 1873, in Back Creek Valley, Virginia, achieved recognition for her novels of frontier life on the Great Plains, including O Pioneers! , The Song of the Lark, and My Ántonia. In 1923 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for One of Ours, a novel set during World War I.

willa-catherCather grew up in Virginia and Nebraska, and graduated from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, initially planning to become a physician, but after writing an article for the Nebraska State Journal, she became a regular contributor to this journal. Because of this, she changed her major and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English.

As a student at the University of Nebraska in the early 1890s, Cather sometimes used the masculine nickname “William” and wore masculine clothing. A photograph in the University of Nebraska archives depicts Cather dressed like a young man and with “her hair shingled, at a time when females wore their hair fashionably long.”

After graduation in 1894, she worked in Pittsburgh as writer for various publications and as a school English teacher for approximately 13 years, thereafter, at the age of 33, moving to New York City for the remainder of her life, though she also traveled widely and spent considerable time at her summer residence in New Brunswick, Canada.

Throughout Cather’s adult life, her most significant friendships were with women. These included her college friend Louise Pound; the Pittsburgh socialite Isabelle McClung, with whom Cather traveled to Europe and at whose Toronto home she stayed for prolonged visits; the opera singer Olive Fremstad; the pianist Yaltah Menuhin;  and most notably, the editor Edith Lewis, with whom Cather lived the last 39 years of her life.

Cather’s sexual identity remains a point of contention among scholars. While many argue for Cather as a lesbian and interpret her work through a lens of queer theory, a highly vocal contingent of Cather scholars adamantly oppose such considerations. For example, scholar Janet Sharistanian has written, “Cather did not label herself a lesbian nor would she wish us to do so, and we do not know whether her relationships with women were sexual. In any case, it is anachronistic to assume that if Cather’s historical context had been different, she would have chosen to write overtly about homoerotic love.”

She was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1943. In 1944, Cather received the gold medal for fiction from the National Institute of Arts and Letters, an award given once a decade for an author’s total accomplishments. She died of a cerebral hemorrhage on April 24, 1947, at the age of 73 in New York City.

A resolutely private person, Cather had destroyed many old drafts, personal papers, and letters. Her will restricted the ability of scholars to quote from the personal papers that remain. However, in April 2013, The Selected Letters of Willa Cather—a collection of 566 letters Cather wrote to friends, family, and literary acquaintances such as Thornton Wilder and F. Scott Fitzgerald—was published, two years following the death of Cather’s nephew and second literary executor, Charles Cather. Willa Cather’s correspondence revealed complexity of her character and inner world. The letters do not disclose any intimate details about Cather’s personal life, but they do “make clear that [her] primary emotional attachments were to women.”

“The stupid believe that to be truthful is easy; only the artist, the great artist, knows how difficult it is.”

— Willa Cather

Being truthful is not the same thing as being honest. Being open is not the same as not telling a lie. One is to answer when asked. The other is to pour your soul out thoroughly and unprompted. One is hard to do, the other feels almost impossible.

Telling the truth is complicated, tiring, and terrifying and writers and artist do it every day.

Telling the truth means making yourself vulnerable to judgment and rejection but since no man or woman is an island telling the truth can mean exposing not just yourself, not even just your family and friends, but your hometown, your gender, your race, and even your age group. It means that what you say means something and you have to carry the full responsibility and ownership of what you reveal.

Being truthful is painful. I’ve read over and over that the best way to be a writer is to just write but what do I do on the days when I am too afraid and too hurt to welcome more eyes and acknowledgment? What about the days when I am already exhausted and have nothing left to help carry the weight of revelation? What about the days when I cannot look myself in the eye let alone allow strangers to see such deep parts of me? What about the days when the truth is too disturbing and scary to examine? How do I do on those days?

The ones who say “just write” I wonder if they understand how much the tears sting and how the real the old memories feel when they pour put of you.

There are so many times I sit down to write my truth, and I find I have built so many defenses against what I carry deep down that I see no truth worth telling. I am nothing, I feel nothing, and nothing has ever hurt or helped me.

Society tells me to be happy and grateful and ordinary and getting past that to all the ugly things we would rather look away from is like pulling teeth or climbing mountains. Telling the truth starts with a search, and the mazes of this world are complex on purpose. The truth is hard to find and what you find may be nothing but illusions. More lies. Tell those too until you learn, I suppose.

I wouldn’t go as far as Cather in calling anyone stupid, but I would say they are a whole lot of ignorant, uninspired, and non-introspective ones out there. I would say I am among them, and so are many other artist and writers aspiring to do better too. The truth never comes easy, and the need to hide and run for cover never leaves us. Writers tell other writers what writing ought to feel like, forgetting what is hard for them will be hard for others too.

It’s rare to find people who open so easily and unapologetically, but we cannot deny that the ones who do are the best among us. Most people live lives so closed up and cut of that such vulnerability is beyond comprehension. I have met husbands and wives, sisters, and best friends who reveal less to one another than a writer does to the world.

Being truthful is hard. There have been many times I have written something that left me in tears and utterly exposed. When I read back over pieces like that, I get embarrassed and afraid. They are just too truthful, too raw. I edit and chop away at the feeling until I am once again cloaked and covered. I know that in doing so I have turned my work into lies but being so open is something you have to build up the courage to do.

And that is what all this practice is for, I suppose. Not just to write better but to write a little more truthfully every time. To write what we are again and again. To write what has been forgotten and what is wished to stay that way. To write about right and wrong and reality, about broken dreams and broken hearts and about the way the world doesn’t care or owe us a damn thing, it is exhausting! And it is the most fulfilling thing we can do.

Write often. Open yourself often. Feel pain, feel joy, feel fear, hope and anger, as often as you can and write, write, write, but never deny to yourself or anyone else that it is the hardest thing to do. Never minimize the worth and the work of what you and other writers do every single day.

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Biographical information via Wikipedia and Goodreads

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Jorge Luis Borges on What Writers Become

Writing, like any art or discipline, takes practice and dedication to learning about the craft from those who have come before you. In learning, I like to teach, so each week I will take a piece of advice from the greats, both living and dead, famous and not, and apply their lessons to my own work and share my thoughts and progress with you.

This week I have chosen a quote from the Argentine writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges.

jorgeluisborgesenpalermofotoferdinandoscianna198403Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo was born into an educated middle-class family on 24 August 1899. They were in comfortable circumstances but not wealthy enough to live in downtown Buenos Aires, so the family resided in Palermo, then a poorer suburb. Borges’s mother, Leonor Acevedo Suárez, came from a traditional Uruguayan family of criollo (Spanish) origin. Her family had been much involved in the European settling of South America and the Argentine War of Independence, and she spoke often of their heroic actions.

In 1914, his family moved to Switzerland where he attended school and traveled to Spain. On his return to Argentina in 1921, Borges began publishing his poems and essays in Surrealist literary journals. He also worked as a librarian and public lecturer. Borges was fluent in several languages. He was a target of political persecution during the Peron regime and supported the military juntas that overthrew it.

Borges was a key figure in Spanish-language literature. His best-known books, Ficciones (Fictions) and El Aleph (The Aleph), published in the 1940s, are compilations of short stories interconnected by common themes, including dreams, labyrinths, libraries, mirrors, fictional writers, philosophy, and religion.

His works have contributed to philosophical literature and the fantasy genre. Critic Ángel Flores, the first to use the term magical realism to define a genre that reacted against the dominant realism and naturalism of the 19th century, considers the beginning of the movement to be the release of Borges’ A Universal History of Infamy (Historia universal de la infamia). However, some critics would consider Borges to be a predecessor and not actually a magical realist. His late poems dialogue with such cultural figures as Spinoza, Camões, and Virgil.

In 1914 Borges’ family moved to Switzerland, where he studied at the Collège de Genève. The family traveled widely in Europe, including stays in Spain. On his return to Argentina in 1921, Borges began publishing his poems and essays in surrealist literary journals. He also worked as a librarian and public lecturer. In 1955 he was appointed the director of the National Public Library and professor of English Literature at the University of Buenos Aires. He became completely blind by the age of 55; as he never learned braille, he became unable to read. Scholars have suggested that his progressive blindness helped him to create innovative literary symbols through imagination.

In 1961 he came to international attention when he received the first Formentor Prize (Prix International), which he shared with Samuel Beckett. In 1971 he won the Jerusalem Prize. His work was translated and published widely in the United States and in Europe. Borges himself was fluent in several languages. He dedicated his final work, The Conspirators, to the city of Geneva, Switzerland.

His international reputation was consolidated in the 1960s, aided by his works being available in English, by the Latin American Boom and by the success of García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. Writer and essayist J. M. Coetzee said of him: “He, more than anyone, renovated the language of fiction and thus opened the way to a remarkable generation of Spanish American novelists.”

Due to a hereditary condition, Borges became blind in his late fifties. In 1955, he was appointed the director of the National Public Library (Biblioteca Nacional) and professor of Literature at the University of Buenos Aires. In 1961, he came to international attention when he received the first International Publishers’ Prize Prix Formentor. His work was translated and published widely in the United States and in Europe. He died in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1986.

J. M. Coetzee said of Borges: “He, more than anyone, renovated the language of fiction and thus opened the way to a remarkable generation of Spanish-American novelists.”

“When writers die they become books, which is, after all, not too bad an incarnation.”

— Jorge Luis Borges

Yesterday I wrote a list of ten bookish resolutions for the new year. One of them was to read more books. Another was to read books written by the acclaimed author Jorge Luis Borges.

I first encountered Borges years ago when I came across his short story Borges and I. To me it was a little masterpiece, perfectly written. I planned to read more of his work but then I got very busy trying to be a grown up and making all the grown up mistakes I needed to make, and I forgot all about reading books, and about Borges and his little masterpiece.

I’ve been reading again for some time now. I have gotten back that old obsession for language and stories that draw me in and change me a little with every page. I have come back to books a bit more mature and ready to get more from them than just entertainment.

I want to study how they are written. I want to learn all the ways there are to say things, and I hear Borges said things in very interesting ways.

I went back and read Borges and I last night and I think I understand better what he is saying or at least I know better what it means to me. Borges is a writer, a public figure, a persona, and a mask presented to the world. “I” is the inner self, the secret self the one who lives and dies while the persona endures in books and the minds of others.

Borges and his “I” are very similar. I think everything that Borges is must have begun in the “I” but now has become distorted and at times unrecognizable. I think as time goes on the “I” gives more to Borges and Borges distorts it all the more and eventually there will be no “I” left. The inner Borges will die because we all die one day and Borges the writer, the persona, and the memory will live on.

The whole thing is very powerful, and if you want to be a writer, artist, entertainer, etc. It is all something to consider, but the last line is what hits me the hardest. The last line — “I do not know which of us has written this page.” — is where the problem really lies.

Who is the real you? The one on paper or the one who lives inside? How much of what you write is the truth? Can you tell the difference? Does it matter to you?

All writers have a habit of exaggeration and distortion. We leave out what we feel needs leaving out, and we highlight all the action. The lows get lower, and the highs get higher. The colors become brighter and the smells more intense. We take the chaos of life and give it order and meaning. We write what we feel and forget the rest and the reader creates a version of us in their minds. This other self is who becomes what we are to the world, and slowly we fade away and the other lives on forever.

I thought that writing about myself meant being my true self, but now I think that one human can never fully and accurately explain who they are or what kind of life they have lived. We can only give approximations and caricatures.

I had thought I could obtain a sort of immortality through words, but I think that isn’t true either, not exactly. The Lisa that lives on, if one does at all, won’t really be me. I am giving birth to a new Lisa, one who is much more interesting and colorful than I. The new Lisa is something I had hoped I could be. The new Lisa is the one I dream was born the night that I was. I give her whatever I can, and she uses all that I am for selfish gains. I don’t mind. I love her all the same.

Lisa and I, which one of us has written this?

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Monday Motivation // Act Like the Person You Want to Be

Hello, dear readers and happy Monday! I know I know, Mondays aren’t happy. Mondays are for being tired, and grouchy, and remembering all the things you don’t like about your life. Mondays are for wanting nothing more than to crawl back into bed and escaping the world.

But, let’s try something different. From now on Mondays are the days when we get to start all over again. All the bad things that happened last week don’t matter anymore. This is our second chance, and this time, we might just get it right.

From now on Monday’s are for making the changes we want to see in ourselves.

For me, this Monday is turning out to be a sweet relief from the stress and sickness I experienced all of last week. Already I feel better, my workload is lightened, I have energy, and I am focused. Today, I think, will be a good writing day. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for it either. I am over 4,000 short of my NaNoWriMo word goals and still figuring out where my plot is going and who the hell these characters actually are.

“Tell yourself first of all what kind of person you want to be, and then act accordingly in all that you do. For in almost every other pursuit we see this to be the course that is followed.”

— Epictetus, Discourses

For a long time I have day-dreamed about being the kind of person who wakes up early in the morning, drinks a ton of coffee, and writes anywhere from 500 to 2,500 words in my sophisticated home office until noon. I would then eat a healthy lunch and spend the early

I would then eat a healthy lunch and spend the early afternoon hours doodling, listening to podcasts, blogging, tweeting, and reading. The dog and I would walk around the neighborhood before dinner and my girlfriend, and I would spend the rest of the night on the couch in front of the TV. I’ll wrap up with some desert and journal writing.

This is my ideal day and I’d very much like to live it every day. It will be a long time before I can do it—if I ever can—but I live it as closely as I can in the hopes that not only does practice make perfect but that the steps I take trying to live that way now will get me closer to my perfect vision later.

I wake up early and even though I have to go to my day job rather than my sophisticated home office, I still pretend. I am lucky enough to work at a job when I am often getting paid when there is no particular task for me to be doing. Plus, the hours I do have are split-shift, so I regularly have large blocks of time to write when my mind is at its most creative and productive.

I write, I drink coffee, I eat lunch, I go for walks, and I blog and tweet, all in as close a proximity to the time I wish I could be doing them from home.

I am lucky that my life allows me to spend a great deal of time pretending I am already the writer I hope to be one day.

In addition, I talk about writing and the kind of life I’d like to live as often as I can. I tell others what I am doing and why. I encourage them to get in touch with their creative sides and to daydream and pretend they are living their perfect lives already too. I do this because I see other creatives do it. They did it for me. They say the secret to being the person you want to be is to accept that you are that person now and to live accordingly. What better way to accept a truth than to spread that truth around?

I try to be a writer, a real writer, in all that I think and do. I want to be a good person, a successful person, a fulfilled and proud one too. I strive to think of myself as already being that person and day by day, minute by minute, the more I do it, the more I change, and I can see now that one day soon I won’t have to pretend so much anymore.

This week I encourage you to the same. Do it for you, but do it for me too. The more I see it, the more I believe it, and I need a dose of faith to keep it going.

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