A PICTURE FOR THE WEEKEND NO. 28

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QUICKIE ON THE XO JANE IT HAPPENED TO ME YOGA EXPERIENCE

Every once in awhile, someone writes a piece that is painfully honest, but in a bad way, because it shows you in this one person this utter lack of awareness of internal biases (just reread the title), and the fascinating way that these biases are processed internally. As a result, her inability to stop judging this other person for being black, not skinny, and new to yoga is processed as being “hyper-aware of my skinny white girl body.” 
I’m adding this quickie because I do hope it provokes intelligent discussion and change. The actual article at XO Jane has been taken down, but here is a thoughtful reaction to it.
As a personal aside, I’m uncomfortable sometimes by how tight yoga clothes are becoming. I do go to yoga, but it’s weird walking to and from class, and sometimes being in class wearing these tight ass outfits. Every little bit shows, and then you have to twist yourself around. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t get a lot out of it, but sometimes I do look at myself from afar and see a sweaty mess.

WHY I LIKE EMMANUELLE ALT

Photo Via High Heel Times
Emmanuelle, if you don’t know her, is the editor-in-chief of Vogue, Paris, and I’m a little fascinated by her style. And then there is something else. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. That is, until I saw this picture. 
She is the woman on the far right, and the only woman wearing jeans. There are many pictures of Emmanuelle floating around in the internet universe, but most of those are of her standing by herself. I prefer this one.
It’s hard to capture inherent qualities in a photograph, the ones that flow from inside a person, but I think this one does a pretty good job of it. If you look at Emmanuelle, there is an integrity there. It doesn’t matter where she is or who she’s with, she does’t alter herself to suit the occasion – I really didn’t notice that until now. You don’t notice these things until you look at her next to other people. I gather from the other ladies that this is a dressy event,* and they have made themselves up for the occasion. From Emmanuelle, she just looks like herself: glowing, relaxed, calm. Not too much makeup, not too much fuss with her hair. I love that. 
*Do you ever notice, when a bunch of dressed up people stand together, it can add up to too much? When you have one person, dressed up, standing alone – that’s okay. Two people – that’s stretching it, but still not visually offensive. Three plus people, all dressed in to kill – really is murder on your eyes. Too much stimulation. Too many alluring expressions. Too much competition for your attention. It means to draw you in, but ends up kicking you away.  

JUST GO AHEAD AND DO IT

“In life, you will become known for doing what you do. That sounds obvious, but it’s profound. If you want to be known as someone who does a particular thing, then you must start doing that thing immediately. Don’t wait. There is no other way. It probably won’t make you money at first, but do it anyway. Work nights. Work weekends. Sleep less. Whatever you have to do. If you’re lucky enough to know what brings you bliss, then do that thing at once. If you do it well, and for long enough, the world will find ways to repay you.” 

From Navating Stuckness, by Jonathan Harris

This is one of the parting quotes from a very strong article about one man’s roundabout way of coming back to doing what he loves. It’s one of those stories to tuck away somewhere, so you can find and reread it when you’re feeling like you’ve lost your way. I’m going to go write now.

FUN LINKS

waterside Muir beach

Finances
Now that the Christmas behemoth is behind us, why not just jump on over to the other extreme, eh? You’re probably broke anyway. Or even better, you can read an article about someone who went through all the hard parts so you can skip straight to the lessons learned. However, you may want to go through the not spending part to break out of the habit of spending. Just a thought.
Reading
Okay, this is fairly self-serving, I admit it. What I’m hoping this offers is an entryway into the reader’s mind. One of the questions facing writers is what a reader wants. This should hopefully clear up some of that mystery.  
Apps
There may be a few here that you haven’t heard about. I’m going to try out the photography apps, because I usually don’t use my phone to take pictures. Nothing beats a real camera for beautiful details, but I could be wrong. There may be a post on this waiting to happen. 
Efficiency
I don’t make resolutions on new years. It seems to limit you to making all changes all at once, at the beginning of the year, just so that you can forget them about a week later. These are some interesting ideas here that you might want to try – whenever I see a list, I tend to pick and choose what to try. Apparently checking email immediately upon waking is a bad thing – I’m going to try not to do this and see if life improves.
Creativity App
This app claims to boost your creativity by providing that “coffee house” allure anywhere you go – for when you don’t have time to go to a cafe, but still want to recreate those special moments.

Writing
Why You Should Be Writing Short Fiction
I don’t read short fiction, and on that basis, I don’t write short fiction, and that was that. Then I read this post – from 2012 no less, but it’s still valid – and realized that I shouldn’t make decisions based on my own self-centered, short-sighted preferences. Time to fire up that pen. 

EMAIL IN PERSPECTIVE

“The only way we will avoid being crushed by the weight of the hundreds or thousands of emails we receive every day is to free ourselves from the need to treat each one like it matters and like it merits a response. The only way we will avoid being emotionally crushed by having other people not respond to our emails is to stop expecting a response. If we can adapt our expectations to fit the realities of this new paradigm, we will all crawl out from under the weight of the curse of email. Email will prove a blessing.”

 – Tim Challies

WHY YOU MIGHT WANT TO MAKE AN AUDIOBOOK

Audiobook

So…I waited until I was reading something blatantly intelligent before before completing this post. There you have it. Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook, one of the most emotionally taxing, mentally overwhelming, lives-up-to-its-own-legend books I have subjected myself to. Have you ever read a book and thought – “hell, I could’ve written that.” Well, that won’t happen here.
That aside, I “read” this on audiobook. Cheating? I don’t know. I used to know – I used to have all the answers, but now…I don’t know. I’ve had some truly moving experiences via audiobook, of the same kind that reading a good book will do. That, I have discovered, is not a bad thing. Because the point of a book is to create an experience, and having it read to you, while easier (there is less focus, less concentration involved) will create an authentic experience. It may not be the exact same as hearing that perfect voice in your head, but that doesn’t make it any less. 
I started this practice, like most things, under duress. Sometimes the library will have an e-copy, sometimes a physical copy, and sometimes an audio copy, but never all of them and never at the same time. Alas. So to continually feed my appetite for that particular novel, I had to compromise, and considering the state of my morals, it wouldn’t be the first time. 
After compromising myself several times over while listening to books in this inferior format, I began to notice a few things:
The voice is everything. If you do not have a good reader, it will bring a good book to its knees; the experience of a book becomes irrevocably tied to this single voice. In the best case scenario, you will have a full professional cast of actors reading each individual character with symphonic interludes (See: The Golden Compass).* In the worst case, you will be subjected to hours in the company of that nasal twat-sicle that sat behind you in History 1B. Between these two extremes, you simply need to be able to read both genders without sounding whiny and high-pitched (men reading as women) or just plain weird (women reading as men). I have noticed that reading, not acting out characters, may also make the listening experience less offensive while enhancing the listener’s enjoyment of the language of the book.
Audiobooks may be better or worse for certain genres. Poetry could really benefit from being heard – you can replay them over and over again like songs, until the rhythm of the words really sinks into your head. On the other hand, I’m not sure if I would want to have certain types of books read to me. I suggest you google Gilbert Gottfried and 50 Shades to see what I mean by this.  
Now, here is the crucial question – why would you want to make an audiobook? In my own experience, when I’ve asked people if they want to take a look at a draft of my book, the answer is almost universally the same – they would love to, but they have no time. This “I have no time” is the most popular rationale that well-meaning people have for not reading anymore. Or for only reading the news, it amounts to the same thing. The book is a monopolizer. You have a carve out a chunk of time to truly experience a novel in the traditional way, and I don’t think people will give that kind of time to just anyone. This is where audiobooks come in. 
The experience of an audiobook is different than a book, because suddenly – Look! Free hands! Your hands are not tied to a book! And this allows those same hands to do a variety of other things, like wash the dishes, or drive a car, or surf the internet. Yes, the experience of reading this precious book that it took forever to bleed out from the ashes of your heart is being split between a crying baby and road rage. I try not to think about that part. I try to focus on the other part: this may be how you will reach a broader, busier audience, who would otherwise not grant you their time. It’s a tactical maneuver. It’s your way in. Let me put this another way, if I could pack the experience of my book into a syringe and inject it into the bloodstream of a reader, I would do it. 
This is all still theoretical on my end, though. I’ve never tried it – I’m still in the editing phase. But I can provide links to two posts that provide practical advice on how to do this Here and Here.
* The Book Thief by Markus Zusak was also a very good, straightforward listening experience, if you want another example. I could provide negative examples, but that’s just being mean. 

G.F. WILKINSON BOOKS

Wilkinson Books Front

It was one of those days where you back into an alley…only to discover a bookstore.

In the middle of the day, which is the only time I gravitate towards alleyways, I took a random turn and there it was: seemingly built into the wall was a series of three windows. Outside each was a polite cart of books. In each window stood a shelf, and on the shelves were more books. All different kinds. All selected with taste. 

I chatted with the owner, Wilkinson (surprised?), and he handed me his card. The store, he explained, was inspired by his European travels, where he saw people selling books on the roadside by laying their wares out on blankets. You walk by. You browse. You buy. It’s the kind of idea that can vary between romantic reminiscence or book prostitution, depending on your inclinations.
I found the idea charming, both in concept and execution. 

bookseller cardsunny booksBookstoreBookstore 2