Blog-etter or News-log, Why Not Both?


Me wondering if my verbs would improve with looser shoes

For a while I’ve squinched up my face when I’ve been writing my blog posts. Not that they’ve tasted of rancid cheese, but that they haven’t felt fully satisfying. After letting that notion sit on my head for a month or two—I’m slow—I came up with it: it’s more the format that’s got a hitch in its giddyup, rather than the content. (I’m willing to have you argue the point that it’s the content that needs more caffeine.)

Rather than continue a monthly blog post that’s often an essay-style exploration of a single writing topic or writing concern native to me, I’m going to pen writing-related thoughts on a looser basis in the blog: shorter, possibly more personal, and at least a couple of times a month rather than monthly. I’m going to resume the monthly newsletter I suspended a while back and use that as the forum for longer posts.

In both, I’ll include links to my published pieces, which have been scant of late, but the curated links—which for a long while have dealt with maintaining mental balance and a broader perspective in pandemic times—will only be in the newsletter. I put some in here for old time’s sake, goopy sentimentalist am I.

In the main, the next few newsletter posts are going to deal with the past year and a half of writing a couple of books, and my current effort to set them up for self-publishing.

So, I would love for you to stick around here. Let me know if there are any topics (or tropics) you’d like explored—in a succinct, dazzling way, of course—in the blog.

And please join me on the newsletter list too. I am outlawing rancid cheese there as well.

Of course, if you’ve smelled old cheese in my posts for a while, you’re welcome to clean out the fridge by the way of the unsubscribe button. It’s been fun to have you—best success to your work and your subsequent cheese selections.

Links to Thinks

Chatting With the Bourbon Sasquatch
Me on a video chat with the Emperor of All Things Bourbon (AKA Steve Akley) on one of his many podcasts. I’m in my ’66 Airstream office, blathering about shoplifting, Las Vegas, and yes, whiskey.

Scientifically Speaking, Doing Nice Things for Others Could Help You Live Longer
“The beautiful thing about kindness is that it gets you outside of your own perception box, and it helps you to remove the focus from yourself and put it on other things in the world that help to provide meaning and purpose.”

5 Simple Principles That Will Help You Live Your Life On Purpose
“You don’t need to save the world by inventing an eco-friendly toilet that’s made of recycled microplastic and turns your poop into money for needy kids when you flush. Instead, it’s about making a difference, no matter how small.”

Positive Phrases for a Healthy Author Mindset
“And therein lies the premise of today’s post: using positive self-talk to improve your mindset and prospects as an author. Achieving this feat might seem unlikely now if you struggle with negative thoughts but, providing you have a healthy mental state in general, it’s possible. The key is learning how to identify and dispute your irrational thoughts. Turning the tide is a challenge but you can overcome it with a few key phrases.”

100 ways to slightly improve your life without really trying
“17 – Don’t be weird about how to stack the dishwasher.”

All the News That’s Fit to Squint At

I have an ongoing battle with myself (damn, every time I get on top, I’m on the bottom too) about reading and listening to the daily news. It can be such a litany of woe and strife: so many deaths, so many injustices that I become inured to the actual screaming pain of it and instead numbly click on to the next article. The drive to drink more news swill is partially due to me wanting to be a journalist for so many years, and for thinking that if I stay current with global currents, I’ll know what’s happening.

But often, what’s happening is just as real under the radar, on the other side of the insistent NOW. Life works its odd ways in the road-not-taken nooks and crannies of not-news and not-hot-news. So, while I continue to battle with whether I’ll lap up the blood-soaked headlines of today, I also subscribe to a number of email newsletters, some of them writing-related, some not, that take a different perspective on what’s interesting and important. (Note: do not point out that reading yet more digests of information doesn’t really address the prescription that it might be time to wean oneself off the news entirely. Bah! Resolutions are for New Year’s.)

So, some offbeat compendiums of not-quite-news:

Next Draft
A daily digest of the provocative, the crazed and the head-scratching (and sometimes it does include top-of-the-news stories, though often from a different angle). The guy behind this, Dave Pell, usually has some wry or deadpan take on the articles he lists, before you click through to the madness.

Brain Pickings
Often centering around writers and literature, this is a weekly digest of the old, the new and the odd. Let them explain: “Brain Pickings is a human-powered discovery engine for interestingness, culling and curating cross-disciplinary curiosity-quenchers, and separating the signal from the noise to bring you things you didn’t know you were interested in until you are.”

Work in Progress
A weekly (though not always) newsletter from the Farrar, Strauss Giroux publishing company, it will often have oddments from the byways of literature and literary types, sometimes with snippets from interviews of famed authors long dead, or snipings from unruly authors quite alive. Some promo of their own publications here, but not obnoxious.

Shelf Awareness
And if you want to find out which of your favorite bookstores are closing this week, this newsletter’s for you. Well, that’s not all they do—from their About: Shelf Awareness publishes two newsletters, one for general readers and one for people in the book business.
Shelf Awareness: Enlightenment for Readers, our new newsletter, appears Tuesdays and Fridays and helps readers discover the 25 best books of the week, as chosen by our industry experts. We also have news about books and authors, author interviews and more.
Shelf Awareness: Daily Enlightenment for the Book Trade, which we’ve been publishing since June 2005, provides booksellers and librarians the information they need to sell and lend books. It appears every business day and is read by people throughout the book industry.

Writing on the Ether
And if you need to read about which publishing industry maven is trashing Amazon today (but it’s funny, really), you can do no better than to go to Jane Friedman’s fine blog and read the Thursday edition of Writing on the Ether. There’s more than just Amazon trashing going on, with all the publishing industry in a constant froth about pretty much everything. Porter Anderson surveys and curates sharp commentary from every whichaway.

Extry, Extry, Man and Dog Both Bite Reporter

And a bit of my own news: Men With Pens put up a post of mine about “Why I Write.” Go there and tell me why you write as well. Or why not.

And I was a finalist in the Gotham Writer’s Workshop 50-word monologue contest, which solicited 50-word monologues on growing up in the suburban 60s. Guilty. I won two tickets to a Broadway revival of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” which I would dearly love to attend, but it being on the Right Coast, I can’t. I’ll be finding some backbiting, caustic, alcoholic NY friends of mine to give them to instead.