Friday, April 29, 2011

Old school: John Donne's The Triple fool

Old School: Old stuff that you were supposed to read in college that didn't make sense and didn't mean anything to you ("What's a merchant?"). But now you're older and wiser and now it means something. Maybe.

Fun facts about John Donne:
  • He lost his father and several of his brothers and sisters when he was just a boy
  • He went to school, learned a bunch of languages and then joined the navy 
  • He married a woman in secret and then was thrown in jail by her father
  • He got out and became a successful priest (one of his most famous sermons contains the passage beginning, “No man is an island” and ending, “Therefore ask not for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”)

Now read this carefully. It's great.
by John Donne

I am two fools, I know,
For loving, and for saying so
In whining poetry ;
But where's that wise man, that would not be I,
If she would not deny ?
Then as th' earth's inward narrow crooked lanes
Do purge sea water's fretful salt away,
I thought, if I could draw my pains
Through rhyme's vexation, I should them allay.
Grief brought to numbers cannot be so fierce,
For he tames it, that fetters it in verse.

But when I have done so,
Some man, his art and voice to show,
Doth set and sing my pain ;
And, by delighting many, frees again
Grief, which verse did restrain.
To love and grief tribute of verse belongs,
But not of such as pleases when 'tis read.
Both are increasèd by such songs,
For both their triumphs so are published,
And I, which was two fools, do so grow three.
Who are a little wise, the best fools be.

Leaving comments is broken

So leaving comments on my blog or on other blogs doesn't seem to be working perfectly. I guess a lot of people are having this problem according to the Blogger Help forums. If you do want to leave a comment, please click here for my profile and email me.

I'll post your comment later when Blogger fixes the problem.

Update: Looks like it may be okay now. Still, email if comments don't work.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

What happened to Amazon Pages?

If you read the Lefsetz letter Albums from yesterday (you'll have to subscribe to his newsletter to read it immediately), he says singles are how new bands get fans and releasing albums once a year is old hat. The article is about music, but there's a relation to books.

What if instead of buying an entire book you're not sure you'll like, you buy chapters as you go, or get a new chapter a week from an author you like? Bloggers see the world this way. When I read a blog (or in this case the Lefsetz letter) I'm reading self-contained pieces that could one day end up as chapters in a book. But the idea of buying chapters of a book like songs on iTunes is not mine. It's not even new.

Back in 2005 Amazon announced something called Amazon Pages where you would be able to do exactly that. Where's it gone? I don't know. Maybe there was a debate. Maybe books are not like albums. Maybe a book broken up is just annoying. Maybe books are more like movies, and you can't really break a movie into parts (unless you make VI of them). But here's an interesting section from Lefsetz:

...if you're putting out an album every couple of years you're reinventing the wheel, you're marketing from ground zero over and over again. You've even lost touch with your fans.

People still buy entire albums and books, sure. But the trend in music is towards buying the songs you like with the option of the album. And since it takes so long to put together an entire album (or a book), this idea for book chapters still has a place.

Bloggers are on the ball when it comes to writing. They're not even thinking in book form. I doubt they think about chapters. Today a steady stream of little pieces builds something larger, whether you're in a band, write books, or sell condos. And if you have contact with fans, why would you not put out anything for a year?

Monday, April 25, 2011

An interactive writing experiment where your name is used in a poem

Try this. It's not a survey. I just used survey gizmo to create it. I didn't know another way. Just pop your name in and click Go and you get a piece of writing with your name in it. Super advanced, I know.

Sunday, April 24, 2011