Five Things Friday: Inspiration

Writing is not self-confidence. It’s skill and talent and intelligence.

~ Porter Anderson

1. Curing Author Ignorance: Porter Anderson Talks Publishing Trends, Intelligent Writing & Editing’s Secret.

2. Nobody tells beginners – Ira Glass on Storytelling. So inspiring!

3. The New French Hacker Underground – This doesn’t have anything to do with writing. Instead, it is about a group of artist-hackers that break into Paris’s lost treasures to restore them.

4. Need motivation to start or keep writing? Here are 9 tips.

5. Did you know that even after T. S. Eliot published his most famous works, Prufrock and The Waste Land, that he continued to hold down his day job at at bank? It’s true.


Five Things Friday: Paper vs. Digital

The debate about paper books versus digital books continues. In my post earlier this week, I thought that the argument is rather moot. I don’t think it is necessarily a case of one over the other. Personally, I use my iPad to read ebooks or or content that is exclusively online and still have a sizeable paper library of fiction and non-fiction books – still my favourite way to really enjoy thought-provoking works.

1. The Power of Paper in a Digital Era – Scholars have learned so much about writer’s through their collected papers and you have to wonder what will be lost when writers only work in digital, not keeping each draft of a work.

2. Going West by Maurice Gee – another fabulous book trailer/video produced by the New Zealand Book Council for a book originally published in 1994 (found via

3. An hilarious cartoon about the future library.

4. It’s a Book by Lane Smith – another funny book trailer that celebrates the magic of paper books.

5. Love Downton Abbey (PBS) but want to read novels set during the same time period? Russell Smith provides several excellent options, including The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. The movie is also excellent.

Ode to the Independent Book Store

This video has been taking the interwebs by storm and you’ve probably already seen it, but I absolutely adore it. It was filmed in one of Toronto’s finest independent bookstores, Type Books on Queen West. A team of volunteers spent many sleepless nights moving, stacking and animating the books. A few weeks ago, I shared this lovely video shot in the famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris, so it was nice to come across a video shot in my home town.

I’m as guilty as most of us in shopping in the big chain bookstores, mostly because their loyalty programs make it easy to save money. Since I buy a lot of books, this is important to me. But I shop at the big chain bookstore when I know exactly what I want, it isn’t the place I go to explore or discover new authors or new books. The big bookstore chains are designed to sell books and book-themed trinkets, they are not designed for book lovers.

But independent bookstores are designed for book lovers. Browsing in a store like Type Books or Nicholas Hoare is more like looking through the shelves of book lover’s library. Here the books are curated based on literary merit, not on saleability. I love shopping in an independent bookstore because I can count on discovering new books, new authors, or at least books and authors new to me. I love the sense of discovery. So, while I like to save money, I still splurge in an independent book store because I value the sense of discovery just as much as being able to take home a book (or three).

* I also adore this animated video based on the Charles Bukowski poem “The Blue Bird” (found via Brain Pickings).

Five Things Friday: Books, Books and More Books

  1. I’m looking forward to reading Desire to Inspire: Using Creative Passion to Transform the World by Christine Mason Miller. It features contributions from many of my favourite bloggers and artists.
  2. Books, books and more books. This is my idea of heaven.
  3. I loved this magical, morbid and slightly subversive stop action film by Spike Jonze (found via Brainpicker).
  4. I was very sad to hear that George Whitman, the legendary owner of the Paris bookstore Shakespeare and Company, passed away earlier this week.
  5. The book as a work of art. Lumiere Press produces the limited-edition Steichen: Eduard et Voulangis, including two never before published photographs by Edward Steichen.

Five Things Friday

  1. I’m struggling with my memoir, so I’m going to try this approach to outlining to see if it helps.
  2. I enjoyed this interview with the always inspiring Susannah Conway.
  3. I found these eight writing tips from Flannery O’Connor very insightful. I might try tip #2 to see if I can sort out this issues with my memoir.
  4. More fabulous eye candy – the desks and studios of famous writers and artists.
  5. A fascinating article about the graphic designer behind the Mac icons.


The World Needs More Fun

We need more fun in our every day lives.

First, a Dutch railway maintenance company installed a slide at the Utrecht-Overvecht train station, that gives travellers a chance to have a little child-like fun. I so want to try out that slide!

I’d also love to fly on South African Kulula Airlines. The cabin crew are known for spicing up the inflight announcements with all sorts of zany remarks, including advising passengers that “in the event of a water landing the floatation devices include a little light for shiny in sharks’ eyes.” Earlier this week, the airline announced that it had bought acres of land on Mars and had asked NASA – and the Klingons – for advice about a mission to the red planet.

Check out more Kulula Airlines humour. 

Why can’t more corporations have fun like this?

Where I Write

I’m fascinated by pictures of writer’s offices and desks. Last year, I spent some time in London and visited the home of one of my favourite writers – Charles Dickens. They have the desk where he wrote some of his most famous works, including The Pickwick Papers and Oliver Twist.

I also enjoyed the series The Guardian newspaper did in 2009 called Writer’s Rooms.

My favourite room is that of Virginia Woolf, a converted tool shed at the bottom of the garden at the Woolf’s home, Monk’s House in Rodmell, Sussex. In her “writer’s lodge,” Virginia Woolf wrote all her major works, including Mrs. Dalloway and The Waves.

I also liked Jane Austen’s room, which wasn’t a room at all, but a tiny table. Just goes to show that you don’t need a special room, or even a fancy desk to write.

This is where I write. It’s an Ikea desk that I bought years ago for a desktop computer, but still seems to work well for my trusty MacBook Pro. My desk is in the corner of my tiny living room of my tiny one-bedroom apartment. I’d like to get a better desk, but for now this will do.

More cool writer’s desk can be found at Desk Space. Then there are really cool offices at Design*Sponge here and here, but many of them seem too neat. Does anyone actually work at these desks?