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Archive for April, 2017

St. Mary’s Church Interior, Thirsk, UK

April 30th, 2017 Comments off

St. Mary's Church Interior, Thirsk, UK

St. Mary’s Church Interior, Thirsk, UK

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* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!

York Minster Rises Against The Sky

April 30th, 2017 Comments off

York Minster Rises Against The Sky

York Minster Rises Against The Sky

A dramatic shot of York Minster in York, UK. 

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* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott [Book]

April 29th, 2017 Comments off

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

I first read Bird by Bird a long time ago and often recommend it to people who have a desire to write. After talking with a friend about the book recently, I thought it time to revisit and re-read the book and see what new things I might take away from it.

Unlike Big Magic, which I wrote about a few weeks ago, Bird by Bird is more of a traditional book on writing — offering direct advice, exercises and support to help you write and write better. That said, Lamott has a great way of interjecting the realities of being a writer along with a strong dose of humor to help you cope with the ups, downs, sideways and convolutions of writing a being a writer.

“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'”

On the concrete side of the writing equation, Lamott details her advice on writing using “Short Assignments” — committing to only a few hundred words detailing a particular character or scene. Just enough to get your writing — something — which can often be the most difficult part of any project.

Next is allowing yourself to write, in her words, “Shitty First Drafts. This is Lamott’s way of saying that sometimes you just have to write. We can all get tied up in trying to make every word we write perfect — the first time. Almost anyone who has ever written will tell you that this is a sure road to madness, writer’s block and worse.

An entire essay on Perfectionism follows to give some reasons and some tools to combat it and continue writing, no matter how bad you might think your project is right now.

Lamott then follows with chapters on other important aspects of writing including Set Design, Plot, Dialogue and more.

Part II of Bird by Bird, The Writing Frame of Mind is a series of in-depth essays on “Looking Around” or how better to see the world around you and use it in your writing, “The Moral Point of View” which explains how it is very difficult to complete any writing project that you don’t care passionately about — at least in some small way. You have to have the thread that drives you through your project. Something important you want to say. There is also an important section on “Jealousy” that I think is required reading for any writer. Jealousy is something we must all learn to deal with if we want to have a happy life and a successful (or at least, fun) writing career. Otherwise the “green-eyed dragon” will gobble you up with a moment’s thought.

In Part III, an essay on “Calling Around” explains how important it is for a writer to find sources for their writing — those people who can call on with specific information about world’s you may not move in, but still want to use as a setting in your writing. Lamott also details why it is so very important to find a trusted friend to read your early drafts and how you may go about finding them. Writing groups might be one solution and Lamott shares her thoughts on how important a good (and functional) group like this might be for you.

Part IV deals with the nasty bits of being a “professional”, “published” writer. It isn’t an easy life and there are a few things you need to know before you head down that road. It can be unforgiving. It can be crushing to your ego. It can also be exhilarating and dramatic and a host of other feelings.

I read Bird by Bird essay by essay in most cases. Taking time to think and digest the lesson in each section before moving on. You might also turn to (or return to) individual sections were you need a bit more support and a bit more thinking to use the lessons in your own writing.

After this re-read of Bird by Bird, I still think this is one of the foremost books for writers of all levels, but especially for those just beginning their writing journey. There is a lot of great advice, guidance, and truth in this book that can benefit everyone.

Categories: Books, Creativity, Education, Writing Tags:

On YouTube: Whole Phrases Hidden in English Words by Arika Okrent

April 29th, 2017 Comments off

This is part of an excellent series by Arika Okrent on language. I have subscribed and look forward to seeing new videos in my YouTube daily watching list. — Douglas

Whole Phrases Hidden in English Words by Arika Okrent via YouTube

Why say a whole sentence when just a word will do? You might never have noticed that these English words contain whole phrases within them. Produced for Mental Floss

Watch Whole Phrases Hidden in English Words by Arika Okrent


An interesting link found among my daily reading

9 Books To Read If You Struggle With Anxiety via Romper

April 29th, 2017 Comments off

I have had issues with anxiety all my life and I have recently begun looking for some ways of mitigating its effects. Here is a collection of 9 books (plus 2 recently recommended to me) to help you cope when anxiety in your life gets to be a bit too much. — Douglas

Read 9 Books To Read If You Struggle With Anxiety via Romper


Recommended to me, but not included in the linked article

I am currently reading My Age of Anxiety and I am in the 4th week of the Mindfulness program as outlined in the second book

Books included in the linked article

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** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out! 


An interesting link found among my daily reading

A Face in the Garden iPhone and Samsung Cases and more!

April 29th, 2017 Comments off

10 Bits of Cooking Savvy We Picked Up Hanging Out in the Kitchen via Food52

April 28th, 2017 Comments off
I have learned most — if not all – all my best cooking tricks from watching others, whether that is television chefs on the Food Network or Maria Gaetana in Agira — looking over her shoulder while she fried up cotoletta vittelo (Veal Cutlets) for pranza while all the other uomini (men) stood outside on the balcony smoking.
 
So, as a reinforcement of learning by watching, here are 10 great ideas you can apply in your kitchen — hopefully to great success! — Douglas
 
 
In the same way that I’m in awe of friends who have learned new languages by “immersion”—but how do you start, I’ve wondered? And what keeps you from just, you know, staying silent for all of eternity?—I am also confounded by older, wiser, better cooks who tell me that I’ll learn to cook by, well, cooking.
 
But how? It never seemed to add up. I’ve held a brain in biology class, and it really isn’t very much like a sponge.

And yet, when I think back to how I cooked five years ago, and think about the knowledge that I seem to have osmosed, I’m shocked to realize that just the act of cooking is also an act of learning. Nearly every recipe—even those not billed as life-changing—has a valuable tidbit or takeaway that can be applied to other future recipes.
 
Read 10 Bits of Cooking Savvy We Picked Up Hanging Out in the Kitchen via Food52



* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!


An interesting link found among my daily reading

25% OFF Today – Almost Alien Looking Strelitzia Decorate These Totes, Mugs, Notebooks and Much More!

April 27th, 2017 Comments off

25% OFF Today - Almost Alien Looking Strelitzia Decorate These Totes, Mugs, Notebooks and Much More!

Almost Alien Looking Strelitzia Decorate These Totes, Mugs, Notebooks and Much More!
25% OFF Today on These Products and All Totes, Mugs and Spiral Notebooks

These bird of paradise plants always remind me of a creation of some science fiction writer describing the plant life on a alien world. And yet, here there are growing in many gardens and yards in the neighborhood

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DouglasEWelch.com/shop

Tote Bag Features

  • Selected design printed on both sides
  • 1 inch wide super strong cotton shoulder strap (14 inch length)
  • Soft yet hard wearing 100% spun Polyester Poplin fabric
  • Dry or Spot Clean Only

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3-Ingredient Happy Hour: The Blackberry Lavender Fizz via Lifehacker

April 26th, 2017 Comments off
It’s time for Summer cocktails and this combination of blackberry, lavender and gin could be your porch sipper of the season. While I wouldn’t normally drink lavender soda by itself, I can see how it brings a unique note to the cocktail. Here in Los Angeles we can easily find Dry Lavender Soda at a nearby BevMo or other liquor stores. Yet another cocktail to try out. I think I have a list here somewhere. (LAUGH) — Douglas
 
Basically, I wanted something that was a little fruity, a little floral, and as pretty as an Easter egg. Though it initially seemed slightly ambitious, I was able to craft such a beverage using just three, flavorful ingredients, and the result was quite the porch-pounder. Bonus: This beverage can be built right in the glass, saving you time and dishes.
 

An interesting link found among my daily reading

Malibu Sunset

April 26th, 2017 Comments off
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