Category Archives: books - Page 2

books on the shelf

Books that are currently churning:

“The Monkey Grammarian” by Octavio Paz

Why am I reading this? Because it was mentioned in book three of “The Nocilla Trilogy” by Agustín Fernández Mallo (which I have loved all the way up to book three. That one is a struggle.) It’s a fascinating book. I can’t say why, because I can’t quite figure out why.

“The Heyduke Trail” by Joe Mitchell and Mike Coronella

Why? Because my wife and I watched a documentary about a hike on the trail and we’re never going to do that. But it’s fun to pore over the maps and look at segments we could try. The whole thing? No.

“Adventures With The Mojave Phone Booth” by Godfrey “Doc” Daniels

Again, why? Because I heard about it on Desert Oracle Radio and I read the Desert Oracle magazine and you probably should too. This book reads like a blog from the 90s and I like that.

“The Mighty Fitz” by Dr. Michael Shumacher

No one who knows me asked why. Books on this topic are important.

“One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel García Márquez

I’m finding that I really enjoy literature written in the Spanish language. I know that translations are a rough game, but I’ve stumbled onto more than a few that have led me here. I’ll admit to having avoided this text in particular because I assumed that a translation wouldn’t be the same. And yet, I’m loving it. Being a reformed academic is a tough business. I need to let go more and read this stuff.

I’ll make another post when I knock out a few of these. I have a few days off for the holidays and that should be good for reading.

Poetry

A recent project has me writing a lot of lyrics. To say that my skills as a poet are weak is an understatement. As a result, I’m reading a lot of poetry. I picked up a chapbook of poetry by Tom Cheshire called Just A Little Piece of Heartburn that you can get here: http://safetythirdenterprises.com/. It’s really, really good. Very inspiring for someone like me who enjoys taking the every day and dressing it up. Check it out.

I’m also flipping through collections by my buddy Jeff and The Paris Review. Reading great poetry really picks me up creatively and reminds me of how much fun words can be. Hopefully, it’s also going to improve my lyrics. I can dream, right?

The War of Art – Yes, Again

I’m going to come clean and admit that I have a horrible case of Seasonal Affective Disorder. I’ve fallen victim to it since my relocation from more civilized latitudes to the harsh climate of Texas. One of the compromises that we made when I moved here was that I would get to complain about the heat from May through September. And all kidding aside, it’s pretty brutal. In Houston we’ve had serious drought and 20+ days of temperatures over 100F. Seriously. It’s painful.

In these dog days of summer, I find that my creative output drops significantly. I can’t bring myself to read anything worthwhile. My attention is captured by the Internet, video games, and watching beads of condensation run down my ever full glass of ice water. I complain about not getting anything done and my wife, patient as ever, reminds me that what usually works is re-reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. And she’s right.

I’ve given away several copies of the book and have turned on at least a dozen people to it. Some of them clicked with it the way that I did and others got a weird taste from it. All agreed that it was good stuff, but the presentation worked for some and not others. I feel good for getting other eyes on the book, but the eyes that really need to be on it are mine because the book Just Works™ for me.

I don’t know if it’s the simple structure – generally one page per idea – or the voice of the author that makes it hit home for me the way that it does. Honestly, like most of the things surrounding my creative process, I don’t question it much because it works. And when something works, I don’t really want to mess with it. What Pressfield does, better than anyone else I’ve read, is remind me of why it is I do what I do. I do it because I have to. And like everything else that I really, really have to do, I feel really, really bad when I don’t do it. Much like eating, drinking, and sleeping, creative work is something that I do because it is necessary. And like those other things, I can only go so long without it before negative effects set in.

I’ve been in a rut for the past 3 or 4 weeks. Finally, Sunday morning, I sat down and started to go through The War of Art again. Again I found it instantly inspiring and I’m ready to get my ass back in the seat and get back to work. Yes, my wife is right again. And yes, you should read or re-read Pressfield’s genius right now. No matter what you’re doing, it will help.