Author Archives: Doug

Sharon Mesmer for Brooklyn Poet Laureate

Sharon Mesmer is on the short list for the next Brooklyn Poet Laureate to succeed Ken Siegelman.

It really isn’t a contest is it? She has to get the nod.

In a story Gene Kuntzman did for the The Brooklyn Paper he wrote: Sharon Mesmer

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blockquote>”Mesmer will get the vote of anyone who likes a randy dame who’s not afraid to write poems with titles like “Annoying Diabetic Bitch” and “Holy Mother of Monkey Poo.”

“If anyone is suggesting me [as poet laureate], it must be because I slept around so much,” she said. But she’s being modest: Mesmer, who studied under Allen Ginsberg, teaches at the New School and, this fall, at Brooklyn College.

Posted in Around Town, Best Of, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Response

Email as ToDo List

David Pogue, the Technology Editor at the New York Times, has caused a stir withis last email update. In it he described a short list of his productivity secrets and to the gasps of GTD/David Allen proselytes the world over he declared that he uses his email inbox as his todo list.

I thought I heard the followers of Merlin Mann and his 43 Folders InboxZero program clutch their collective chests.

I joined in by posting…

I love todo list so much I had dozens – Omnifocus, iGTD, iCal, Things, legal pads, 3×5 cards, all of it. Then I relized the wonder of the one inbox, and I have made my email that box. Like Pogue, anything that comes in is filed, replied to, or tossed a la basic GTD principles. What is left over are todo/project emails. The problem with using the inbox…
Posted in Best Of, Productivity | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Response

Writing Timers, Wasting Timers

A great way to waste time not writing is to set up your system for managing writing time during the time when you should be writing.

I used to write non-stop, heads-down till my body collapsed, lost in the tunnel of creativity, absorbed with characters and stories. While exciting and vaguely mystical, this is not a long haul strategy for writing sucess. Eventually things (like, you) begin to break down.

Somewhere along the way, I think from the Scrivener boards, I learned of a system for working in periods of forty-eight minutes followed by breaks of twelve minutes. The idea was to train the subconscious to visit during the twelve to help the creative process along.

Easy to adopt, right? All you need is a great timer, because if it works you’re fully absorbed during the 48 and will/should/hope to lose track of time until the bell goes off.

So I had to go find the right timer. Don’t laugh, this is a big deal and it can take dozens of hours of frittering to try them all and get just the right one….

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Shifting Mediums

Of all the artists, we writers are uniquely beset with the chore of dealing with the piles of stuff we produce, and making sure it doesn’t get lost in some tornadoing swirl of trash papers, dog eared towers, or misnamed folders, never to be seen again.

This is not to disparage my friends who are visual artists, they too have vast quantities of stuff, paints, easels, those funny little wooden figures with articulated joints, but their problems are different. A thirteen foot canvas is not likely to just up and disappear overnight, while a 10,000 word story can fall into some crevasse of a hard drive and go missing for years.

I’m also not speaking ill of my friends the performing artists, who’s work is basically geographical. Their biggest organizational issue is making sure they show up at the right place, at the right time, on the right day, hopefully without forgetting their Strad, or Gibson in the cab on the way to the hall.

But we writers, our burden is the crap load of words we have to wrangle. Even if you only do the Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird 300 words a day minimum quota (or the 3,500 I seem to average) a writer can easily develop a whole attic of text, mounds of little stories, herds of ideas, notes, quips and quotes from observation or reading, and it’s easy for stuff to slip off on the wind, which is a shame because that cloud of pages heading over the hill has good stuff in it.

Ah, the trade offs of the different vocations…

When I flip through the files in my writing folders I invariably trip over a little gem, something I forgot, something valualble. The other day I found a wonderful description of a feeble old man stumbling off down a hall, he was fragile and vulnerable like he was made of spun candy, along the way he had to stop and remember where he was going. He was a perfect model for a director in my book.

The natural question is how to keep something like that from being lost…

Posted in Productivity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Response

What comes next?

In response to a question on another site…

“Once you have written down the inspiration that comes to you, then what?”

…I replied…

Outline, reorder, revise, wrestle with syntax, realize that there is no message or point, start over….Get to same place, cry, make coffee, read someone else’s work, say “I can do better than that”, start over, fail again, make choice between Martini or scotch, check facebook, read emails, call a friend, fritter, decide to give it another run…Find original point is not that bad, re-outline, like the way it looks, fill in gaps, change “its” to “it’s”, check spelling, publish, collapse exhausted and get another Martini…

Or something like that.

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No Armageddon, Not Yet

One of the things I’m surprised about is the resiliency of the economy. Things are flattening out, opportunists are making their moves on low prices in many industries. Business is starting up again, mostly because credit is beginning to flow out of the banks.

I really thought it would have been much worse. Given the environment of the crisis, regime change in Washington being the largest and most disruptive, I would have thought by now the pavement would have been fracturing, buildings collapsing, that there would be revolution in the streets.

I said this to Shannon yesterday as we walked cross town on the way to a meeting of one of her non-profit groups that works with disabled vets, and she stopped cold in the middle of Park Avenue.

“You? I can’t believe it….

Posted in The Annals of Protest | Tagged , , , , | 2 Responses