Books By John Estes

Antiques Roadshow: Future Edition

Today’s news is too bleak to bear, between the bullets, bombs, and boors, so here’s a glimpse at what’s in store for us.

If you like that (or even if you don’t) then read this short story, Appraisals, by Robert Long Foreman, although I would not be surprised to learn it’s at least part memoir. Regardless, read it and do one less regrettable thing for the race to add to its store of regrettable things today.

I went to the Antiques Roadshow with my mother’s green marble frog in the inside pocket of the jacket of the black suit I wore to her funeral that morning. I had taken the frog from her house. I wanted to know what it was worth.

7 Reasons Not to Write a Novel

Spanish novelist Javier Marias on why one should and should not write novels. The seven reasons against are painfully obvious enough—no money, no fame, no self-satisfaction, etc.—so, to skip to the end…

First and last: Writing novels allows the novelist to spend much of his time in a fictional world, which is really the only or at least the most bearable place to be. This means that he can live in the realm of what might have been and never was, and therefore in the land of what is still possible, of what will always be about to happen, what has not yet been dismissed as having happened already or because everyone knows it will never happen. The so-called realistic novelist, who, when he writes, remains firmly installed in the real world, has confused his role with that of the historian or journalist or documentary-maker.

The real novelist does not reflect reality, but unreality, if we take that to mean not the unlikely or the fantastical, but simply what could have happened and did not, the very contrary of actual facts and events and incidents, the very contrary of “what is happening now”. What is “merely” possible continues to be possible, eternally possible in any age and any place, which is why we still read Don Quixote and Madame Bovary, whom one can live with for a while and believe in absolutely, rather than discounting them as impossible or passé or old hat.

App Store Sale: Ulysses and Slugline and Scrivener

The Mac App Store is having a sale on creative apps, and so if you’re a writer looking to change your life for less money, here are a few apps I use and recommend:

Ulysses III: I can’t say enough good things about Ulysses, which gets better and better all the time. Especially if you still write in Word, I feel sorry for you, and even if I don’t know you, because you’re a human being I love you too much to stand idly by while you waste your life unnecessarily. Learn markdown and come to love plain text! I write everything in Ulysses, which in turn keeps everything organized and backed up, and am close to finishing my first book written entirely within it and it’s unalloyed pleasure to work with it. Be happy and buy it at now for 50% off.

Slugline: I haven’t used this much because, you know, I’m only just about to write that screenplay, but it’s a beautiful plain text app that uses the Fountain syntax for script formatting.

Scrivener: I’ve tried to love this app that a lot of writers, mostly novel writers, use and love. Maybe you will succeed where I have failed. What it can do well is format, so even though I’d never use it for a writing environment I can see using it as a place to typeset a book for PDF export and printing, although I use Mellel for that.

Acorn 4: The best light not-at-all-lightweight image editing app.

Marked 2: This is not part of the creative app sale, but is on sale this week. If you write in plain text, you’ll need eventually to preview/export/print what you write in the font and format of your choice. Ulysses has a function like this built-in, but Marked 2 is a bit more feature-rich and will of course work with any other editor.

The Daily Routines of Famous Artists

Someone at Podio (?) has compiled a lot of information about the habits of creative people into an interactive chart. Most of this info appears to come from Mason Currey’s exhaustive book and blog Daily Rituals (as well as a few other sources). Slate ran a serialized version of Currey’s work prior to the book’s publication, which is all quite good.


Click image to see the interactive version (via Podio).

Mason Currey:

Given how much time I’ve spent reading and thinking about artists’ schedules and working habits, you might expect that I would have some insight into what makes for an ideal daily routine. Is there some combination of sleep, work, exercise, coffee, and focused head-scratching or brow-furrowing that is most likely to lead to creative breakthroughs? Or, at the very least, are there some basic guidelines that will stave off blocks and guarantee a minimum level of intellectual output?

Short answer: no, not really. The one lesson of the book is that there is no one way—the rituals and habits that helped Artist A create a masterpiece would never work for Artist B; and, actually, they might not even work for Artist A for very long.

One’s daily routine is a highly idiosyncratic collection of compromises, neuroses, and superstitions, built up through trial and error and subject to a variety of external conditions.

The same data visualized differently, made by RJ Andrews at InfoWeTrust. Click to enlarge (or see it larger here.)

 

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One Less Bookstore You Didn’t Know About

New York’s secret upper east side bookstore has been evicted from its secret location. From Shelf Awareness:

New York City’s Brazenhead Books, a “secret bookstore that has operated out of an Upper East Side apartment since 2008, may be facing its final chapter,” DNAInfo reported. Owner Michael Seidenberg, who achieved a measure of notoriety when a short documentary film about him was released in 2011, announced on his Facebook page that the operation “turns its last page on October 31st. Lost our lease… lots of things must go.” A Plan B(razenhead) sign-up page has been set up, “if you want to stay updated on how you can help.”

Here is the short, sweet film Etsy made a couple years ago: