My wife recentlywrote a post about our city’s annual tradition of putting up flags ahead of Israel’s Independence Day. Apparently someone raised concerns on Facebook about how this extra cost was wasted in light of the need for more resources to combat COVID-19.
These flags aren’t an annual exercise in vanity and frivolity, they mean much more than that –
Seeing those flags made me smile. Seeing those flags made my heart feel lighter. It made me feel connected to people, my fellow citizens, when I had spent almost an entire month in my home with no personal contact with anyone outside of my immediate family.
Those flags gave me hope.
It was an affirmation. We are Israel! We are Israelis – and we can overcome anything that is thrown our way.
So, random Facebook man, I vehemently disagree!
Those flags are not a waste of money. Not at all. They are – Joy, Love and Hope. And they are a promise.
Dave Winer paid tribute to Om Malik on Twitter. I shared my perspective in reply and it seemed wrong to leave my response just as a tweet so I thought I’d re-post my response here too:
@Om is an inspirational blogger/writer. One of a very small group of people who represent what makes a blog such a wonderful medium (you too, sir). When I think about how to be a better blogger and writer, Om is usually the first person I look to for inspiration.
Here is the Twitter thread:
@Om is an inspirational blogger/writer. One of a very small group of people who represent what makes a blog such a wonderful medium (you too, sir).
When I think about how to be a better blogger and writer, Om is usually the first person I look to for inspiration.
The result is tweet after tweet of pure inspiration from women in the technology industry. I spent some time reading tweets this morning when I woke up and I found myself smiling because these stories are just awesome.
These women, and others like them, are the perfect response to the odious Damore memo. These stories are also the stories I want both our kids to know, especially our daughter. Heck, these stories inspire me as I learn to code. Here is a selection of some of my favourites:
This is probably one of my favourite favourites
And people feel offended by women who breastfeed in public!
I’ve created a Twitter Moment for the tweets I love the most. You can find that here too (it may be more complete and up to date):
A blank page can be a little intimidating as a writer. Staring at a blank page and being unable to fill it with something intelligible is a common experience of writer’s block, the bane of most writers. I say “most” because there are probably some writers who find the challenge of writer’s block to be just the thing they need to break through it.
I’m not one of those writers.
Lately I’ve realized that despite all the writing that I do in my day job, I don’t do much personal writing. When I realise this and decide to start writing more frequently, I go utterly blank.
Well, that isn’t entirely accurate. I have ideas that I want to write about but they seem to fade awfully quickly and seem silly the next day so I shelve them.
I think I resonated most with Philipp Meyer’s and Lydia Davis’ thoughts about the blank page but each interview is worth watching if you, like me, find yourself staring at a blank page frustratingly often.
You can find the Brain Pickings post with selected quotes here:
Prince Ea published an inspiring video titled “Everybody Dies, But Not Everybody Lives” (YouTube version) which is worth a few minutes of your time. One phrase stands out for me: “A brand new ending”. Regardless of how we began our lives and the challenges we have faced, we can still create our brand new ending.
You have to appreciate the spiritual component of having an opportunity to do something as wondrous as writing. You should be practical and smart and you should have a good agent and you should work really, really hard. But you should also be filled with awe and gratitude about this amazing way to be in the world.
I’m a big fan of great writing advice and I want to share a few quotes that stand out for me so far.
This first one highlights something I’ve been thinking about lately and haven’t been able to capture in words yet. When I write something that feels worthwhile to me, it feels like I am connecting to something profound, simple and eternal. I have this sense of it as a colour palette, oddly, the felt-sense equivalent of a Polaroid photo from my childhood (well, if there were Polaroid photos from my childhood):
We are part of a mystery, a splendid mystery within which we must attempt to orient ourselves if we are to have a sense of our own nature.
Writing that matters is all about honesty, at least for me. Writing honestly is the only way to tap into whatever passes for my flow (I just had this notion of my flow as the literary equivalent of the Speed Force … yes, I’m a fan):
How to feel your way toward something honest, hidden under the trapdoor on the top of your skull.
This next one is a recurring theme with writers and so true. Unfortunately it is also so easy not to follow this advice. It requires a lot of persistence and good habits which are still very much works in progress for me:
Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too.
You have to simply love writing, and you have to remind yourself often that you love it.
I definitely have days when I feel ill at the thought of typing anything (fortunately those are often the days I turn to my camera for some non-verbal creative expression) and this piece of advice can be an invaluable help when it’s time to return to my keyboard.