Tag Archives: Writing

It’s good to remember that even some of the best, most popular places on the Internet are still unknown to many. So the “Newsletters I Like” choice today is a website that I hope you’re already familiar with, but that I’m sharing in case you missed it: Brain Pickings.

Maria Popova is, in my estimation, one of the best things about the Internet. Her popular Brain Pickings website actually started as an email newsletter in 2006, which she eventually built into her popular longform chronicle of curiosities.

Curiosities?“, you ask. More like serendipit-awesome-osities: Two to three thoughtful, heartfelt, detailed, massively-hyperlinked articles per day about art, writing, science, design, history, or anything else which has crossed the transom of her interest.

Brain Pickings feels like pure oxygen on an Internet which can feel like a poorly-ventilated room, overpopulated with functional articles which lack the length and depth necessary to examine meaning. I look forward to her Sunday newsletter like I would look forward to an email from a friend who always sends me things that they know I’d like. Give yourself a weekly treat and sign up here to get it.

This is a link post – You can visit the site mentioned by clicking the main link above (or just click here).

Some Thoughts on Roger Ebert’s Writing

I recently came across an aphorism which made me smile:

I smiled because – I mean – how many wooden, lifeless bits of prose have you read in your life which were caused by someone taking this idea too far? There’s a reason that this particular type of bad writing is often called “legalistic”: It is a joyless, bloodless, anti-human kind of writing – which is probably part of why you have to pay a lawyer $300 an hour to read it.

Most of the writers that I enjoy reading place their words on the page with a sort of lightness. It feels like someone speaking to you, like someone trying to be understood. If good writing is a sort of magic trick, then a good writer is the magician, the rabbit, and the top hat – all rolled up in one. It is craft combined with the courage to show yourself as you are that lets you pull yourself out of the hat.

It’s a hard thing, but some writers can seemingly do it with ease.
[Read more…]

Though I wasn’t aware of journalist Anthony Shadid before I learned of his recent death, I find myself inspired by his work now:

Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent for the Washington Post (and more recently the New York Times), Shadid died at the age of 43 of an asthma attack while on assignment in Syria, prompting an outpouring of grief from his colleagues and his readers. He also wrote several acclaimed books about the Middle East, including the soon-to-be released “House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East”.

Shadid went beyond the standard practice of documenting the actions of the powerful by also telling “smaller” stories about the daily experiences of ordinary people, earning his reputation for putting a human face on some of the Middle East’s political and social complexities.

Of his work, Amy Sullivan of The Atlantic said “There are great reporters and there are great writers. And then there are the rare few who inspire awe by being both.”He was the best of our breedsaid TIME’s Bobby Ghosh, going on to express a sentiment which I saw echoed by many others:  That Shadid’s talent, combined with his lack of ego, made him one of the finest journalists of his generation.

To humanize something, I think, requires a deep well of both humility and empathy. It is the act of making one person’s interior experience visible to the rest of us. With professional skill and with personal kindness, Anthony Shadid made a life’s work out of helping people understand one another better. It seems to me that his ability to write “poetry on deadline” won’t soon be replaced, but perhaps it’s that spirit of generosity towards both the people he wrote about and the people he worked with that should be his most enduring legacy.