Short shrift

Lucian Freud, Double Portrait, 1985-86

I’m giving the blog short shrift, again and again, purely by default. It’s a busy semester, and the Sun-Tu-Th schedule is self-administered, meaning that it is a burden that I’m placing on myself, meaning that it is a burden that I can correspondingly lift.

Starting this week, I’m going to post content on Wednesdays and Sundays for the duration of the semester. Come December, my novel workshop mercifully over, I will maybe up it to three times a week again. In times of less stress, topics come to me pretty easily, but I’m in a place now where the blog looks like an obligation and there’s nothing but blank screen staring back at me.

In lieu of substantive commentary (so much as it’s in my power to provide), I hereby list a smattering of product endorsements:

  • Becoming a Writer, by Dorothea Brande. I have had this book kicking around on my shelves for years but just finished it last week. It’s fantastic, pragmatic and charming. Brande wrote with enormous authority, casually dropping little revelations that I’ve spent years figuring out in my own writing life (explaining away phenomenon of killing a story by talking about it while it’s in progress as turning it into a “story twice told,” for instance). Her suggestions for inducing the “writing coma” are interesting. This state comes much easier to me now than it once did, and I’ve learned over time to use my internet browsing as a sort of mind-clearing period (I realize that sounds paradoxical). But a contemporary adaptation of her suggestions would entail sitting down at the computer only when ready to write – internet browsing aside – and I’ve experimented with this successfully over the last week (part of the success, it must be said, is due to looming deadlines).
  • Protein artisan snack plate at Starbuck’s. I had this for lunch today, on the fly, just before class. It must be said that part of the appeal is the way the food has been photographed (at the link, and even more artfully, on the drive thru menu board). Those bastards sold me on the look of it, and I bought. (The fruit, nut, and cheese plate looks even better to me, but the caloric content seems excessive for a snack. Flying in the face of conventional wisdom, I prefer to consume most of my calories for dinner, which means I’m damned to eat lightly during the day.) It’s a little sad that it comes all shrink-wrapped on an unbleached cardboard tray instead of on a minimalist white plate, but it was still reasonably tasty AND for me it harkens back to Lunchables. The latter came out when I was in elementary school, and my mom refused to buy them for me (wisely, I now note in retrospect).
  • The Minnie pant at J Crew. I found these at a J Crew outlet for 30 percent off this weekend (inexplicably, the sign promoting the sale referred to them as the “Winnie” pant (speaking of which, when did pants become “a pant,” singular? Weird.)). The hyperbolic language of the website and catalog note that this “magic pant” “looks that good on everyone,” but I’m typically between sizes in J Crew pants, which means I’m either swimming in them, or cased in them, like a sausage. I tried these on and they in fact did look pretty good: I couldn’t even detect the kind of saddlebaggery that they appear made to highlight. I was dubious even in the act of buying them, but I have to say that after a test outing, I’m kind of believing the (obviously biased) hype and considering a second pair. Not in the glen plaid, though. Please.

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