AL Kennedy - On Writing

1 Have humility. Older/more ­experienced/more convincing writers may offer rules and varieties of advice. ­Consider what they say. However, don’t automatically give them charge of your brain, or anything else – they might be bitter, twisted, burned-out, manipulative, or just not very like you.

2 Have more humility. Remember you don’t know the limits of your own abilities. Successful or not, if you keep pushing beyond yourself, you will enrich your own life – and maybe even please a few strangers.

3 Defend others. You can, of course, steal stories and attributes from family and friends, fill in filecards after lovemaking and so forth. It might be better to celebrate those you love – and love itself – by writing in such a way that everyone keeps their privacy and dignity intact.

4 Defend your work. Organisations, institutions and individuals will often think they know best about your work – especially if they are paying you. When you genuinely believe their decisions would damage your work – walk away. Run away. The money doesn’t matter that much.

5 Defend yourself. Find out what keeps you happy, motivated and creative.

6 Write. No amount of self-inflicted misery, altered states, black pullovers or being publicly obnoxious will ever add up to your being a writer. Writers write. On you go.

7 Read. As much as you can. As deeply and widely and nourishingly and irritatingly as you can. And the good things will make you remember them, so you won’t need to take notes.

8 Be without fear. This is impossible, but let the small fears drive your rewriting and set aside the large ones ­until they behave – then use them, maybe even write them. Too much fear and all you’ll get is silence.

9 Remember you love writing. It wouldn’t be worth it if you didn’t. If the love fades, do what you need to and get it back.

10 Remember writing doesn’t love you. It doesn’t care. Nevertheless, it can behave with remarkable generosity. Speak well of it, encourage others, pass it on.

Alison Louise Kennedy is a Scottish writer of novels, short stories and non-fiction. 

This advice first appeared in The Guardian

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Nine Cats Who Live in Libraries

1. The library in Pine River, Minnesota, welcomed Browser in 2002. Browser has his own blog and Facebook page.

2. Piper, a kitten rescued from a drainpipe in 2000, moved into the library at The Arkansas School for the Blind. He was soon joined by Big Footsie in 2001. Current cats at the library include Alex, Shadow, and Bob. 

3. Tober lives at the Thorntown Public Library in Thorntown, Indiana. You can follow Tober’s continuing adventure on his blog.

4. Sandy Rankine lives in The Central Library of the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. Sandy is an elderly cat who suffers from diabetes, but library patrons and fans do what they can to help with her medical needs.

5. The Mooresville Public Library in Mooresville, Indiana is home to Cauli Le Chat, who is sometimes called Kit Cauliflower due to ear damage from a fight. She does not live at the library full time, but goes home with an employee at night. During the day, she is the library’s “roving reporter,” lending her name to a blog about everything that goes on at the library. 

6. Page has lived at The Cazenovia Public Library in Cazenovia, New York since 2009.

7. The Schoharie Free Library in Schoharie, New York has a lovely ginger cat named Andy

8. Libris lives at the Willet Memorial Library in Macon, Georgia. Libris was a feral feline adopted to replace the longtime library cat Squeakers, who passed on in 2008. 

9. Anna Porter Public Library in Gatlinburg, Tennessee has a cat named Porter C. Bibliocat. Porter was named after the library’s founder, and the “C” stands for “Catalog.” He was adopted in 2009. 

Via: Amanda Patterson

(Source: mentalfloss.com)

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10 famous books with a happy ending

1. The Shipping News by Annie Proulx
2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
3. The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Botton
4. A Midsummer Night’s Dreamby William Shakespeare
5. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
6. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
7. The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith
8. Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
9. Anne of Green Gables (and the sequels) by LM Montgomery
10. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

 by Elise Valmorbida, author of The Book of Happy Endings

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The 42 Best Lines From The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

1. There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.

2. Many were increasingly of the opinion that they’d all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans.

3. “My doctor says that I have a malformed public-duty gland and a natural deficiency in moral fibre,” Ford muttered to himself, “and that I am therefore excused from saving Universes.”

4. The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.

5. “You know,” said Arthur, “it’s at times like this, when I’m trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I’d listened to what my mother told me when I was young.”
“Why, what did she tell you?”
“I don’t know, I didn’t listen.”

6. “Space,” it says, “is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.”

7. “Funny,” he intoned funereally, “how just when you think life can’t possibly get any worse it suddenly does.”

8. Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?

9. A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.

10. Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was Oh no, not again. Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that we would know a lot more about the nature of the Universe than we do now.

11. The reason why it was published in the form of a micro sub meson electronic component is that if it were printed in normal book form, an interstellar hitchhiker would require several inconveniently large buildings to carry it around in.

12. For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much — the wheel, New York, wars and so on — whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man — for precisely the same reasons.

13. The last ever dolphin message was misinterpreted as a surprisingly sophisticated attempt to do a double-backwards-somersault through a hoop whilst whistling the ‘Star Spangled Banner’, but in fact the message was this: So long and thanks for all the fish.

14. The chances of finding out what’s really going on in the universe are so remote, the only thing to do is hang the sense of it and keep yourself occupied.

15. “Listen, three eyes,” he said, “don’t you try to outweird me, I get stranger things than you free with my breakfast cereal.”

16. “Forty-two,” said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.

17. Not unnaturally, many elevators imbued with intelligence and precognition became terribly frustrated with the mindless business of going up and down, up and down, experimented briefly with the notion of going sideways, as a sort of existential protest, demanded participation in the decision-making process and finally took to squatting in basements sulking.

18. The Total Perspective Vortex derives its picture of the whole Universe on the principle of extrapolated matter analyses.To explain — since every piece of matter in the Universe is in some way affected by every other piece of matter in the Universe, it is in theory possible to extrapolate the whole of creation — every sun, every planet, their orbits, their composition and their economic and social history from, say, one small piece of fairy cake. The man who invented the Total Perspective Vortex did so basically in order to annoy his wife.

19. “Shee, you guys are so unhip it’s a wonder your bums don’t fall off.”

20. It is known that there are an infinite number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Therefore, there must be a finite number of inhabited worlds. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the Universe can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the population of the whole Universe is also zero, and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely the products of a deranged imagination.

21. The disadvantages involved in pulling lots of black sticky slime from out of the ground where it had been safely hidden out of harm’s way, turning it into tar to cover the land with, smoke to fill the air with and pouring the rest into the sea, all seemed to outweigh the advantages of being able to get more quickly from one place to another.

22. Make it totally clear that this gun has a right end and a wrong end. Make it totally clear to anyone standing at the wrong end that things are going badly for them. If that means sticking all sort of spikes and prongs and blackened bits all over it then so be it. This is not a gun for hanging over the fireplace or sticking in the umbrella stand, it is a gun for going out and making people miserable with.

23. It is a well known fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.

24. “Since we decided a few weeks ago to adopt the leaf as legal tender, we have, of course, all become immensely rich.”

25. In the end, it was the Sunday afternoons he couldn’t cope with, and that terrible listlessness that starts to set in about 2:55, when you know you’ve taken all the baths that you can usefully take that day, that however hard you stare at any given paragraph in the newspaper you will never actually read it, or use the revolutionary new pruning technique it describes, and that as you stare at the clock the hands will move relentlessly on to four o’clock, and you will enter the long dark teatime of the soul.

26. He gazed keenly into the distance and looked as if he would quite like the wind to blow his hair back dramatically at that point, but the wind was busy fooling around with some leaves a little way off.

27. “He was staring at the instruments with the air of one who is trying to convert Fahrenheit to centigrade in his head while his house is burning down.”

28. There is a moment in every dawn when light floats, there is the possibility of magic. Creation holds its breath.

29. “You may not instantly see why I bring the subject up, but that is because my mind works so phenomenally fast, and I am at a rough estimate thirty billion times more intelligent than you. Let me give you an example. Think of a number, any number.”
“Er, five,” said the mattress.
“Wrong,” said Marvin. “You see?”

30. There is an art, it says, or rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.

31. It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.

32. He hoped and prayed that there wasn’t an afterlife. Then he realized there was a contradiction involved here and merely hoped that there wasn’t an afterlife.

33. Eskimos had over two hundred different words for snow, without which their conversation would probably have got very monotonous. So they would distinguish between thin snow and thick snow, light snow and heavy snow, sludgy snow, brittle snow, snow that came in flurries, snow that came in drifts, snow that came in on the bottom of your neighbor’s boots all over your nice clean igloo floor, the snows of winter, the snows of spring, the snows you remember from your childhood that were so much better than any of your modern snow, fine snow, feathery snow, hill snow, valley snow, snow that falls in the morning, snow that falls at night, snow that falls all of a sudden just when you were going out fishing, and snow that despite all your efforts to train them, the huskies have pissed on.

34. The storm had now definitely abated, and what thunder there was now grumbled over more distant hills, like a man saying “And another thing…” twenty minutes after admitting he’s lost the argument.

35. He was wrong to think he could now forget that the big, hard, oily, dirty, rainbow-hung Earth on which he lived was a microscopic dot on a microscopic dot lost in the unimaginable infinity of the Universe.

36. “It seemed to me,” said Wonko the Sane, “that any civilization that had so far lost its head as to need to include a set of detailed instructions for use in a packet of toothpicks, was no longer a civilization in which I could live and stay sane.”

37. “Nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws.”

38. The last time anybody made a list of the top hundred character attributes of New Yorkers, common sense snuck in at number 79.

39. Protect me from knowing what I don’t need to know. Protect me from even knowing that there are things to know that I don’t know. Protect me from knowing that I decided not to know about the things that I decided not to know about. Amen.

40. All you really need to know for the moment is that the universe is a lot more complicated than you might think, even if you start from a position of thinking it’s pretty damn complicated in the first place.

41. In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.

42. Don’t Panic.

By Jeff O’Neal, the editor of Book Riot. Follow him on Twitter: @readingape

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Emily Dickinson’s Coconut Cake Recipe

A Coconut Cake Recipe From Emily Dickinson: Reclusive Poet, Passionate Baker

Retouched for the 21st Century

(This recipe was adapted and modified from the original — Letter #665 in The Letters of Emily Dickinson.)

2 cups Coconut Secret® coconut sap sugar
1 cup Earth Balance® butter substitute
2 cups brown rice flour (Arrowhead Mills® gluten-free “Improved Texture” mix works well)
6 eggs (separate yolks and whites)
1 ½ to 2 cups shredded, unsweetened coconut (can also use flaked coconut, coarsely chopped)
1 cup coconut milk

Rather than make a simple icing, standard fare in the 19th-century, based partly on the ingredients I had lying around, I decided to go with this topping instead. It worked very well.

1-2 cups flaked coconut, unsweetened
½ cup orange blossom honey
Zest of four limes
Juice of two limes

Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, blend butter-substitute and coconut sugar. Add brown rice flour and beaten egg yolks. Beat egg whites until slightly frothy and add to batter. Gradually add shredded coconut and coconut milk, blending all ingredients thoroughly. Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with coconut oil. Pour batter into the greased dish (the baking dish should be half full). Bake for 25 minutes in a convection oven (probably 30-35 minutes in a regular oven). Mix the coconut-lime topping. Remove from heat, let cool for a few minutes, spread the topping evenly over the cake.

Source: Amanda Patterson

Find out more about the author here

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Quotable - Lao Tzu

ldquoBeing deeply loved by someone gives you strength while loving someone deeply gives you couragerdquo Lao Tzu

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” ~Lao Tzu

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. To find out about Writers Write - How to write a book, or The Plain Language Programme - Writing courses for business, email news@writerswrite.co.za

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