School and work push us to avoid real dreams. Dreamers are dangerous, impatient and unwilling to tolerate the status quo. Existing systems would prefer we simply fit in.
The dreams we need to teach are the dreams of self-reliance and generosity. The only way for us to move forward is to encourage and amplify the work of people who are willing to learn, to see and to commit to making things better.
It turns out that reading and writing are the cornerstones of this practice, now more than ever. These are the two skills most likely to produce exponential results.
The effective writer can see their ideas spread to a hundred people overnight, or perhaps a million. Writing is still the bedrock tool we use to codify and share ideas, and it forces us to organize our thoughts.
But we can’t say it until we see it, which requires the commitment to reading and understanding, combined with the guts to dream and to lead.
Find the others, see the problem, and then decide to do something about it.
Great stuff, as always, from Seth. Reading expands your worldview. And the pen is mightier than the sword. It’s never been harder to carve out time for reading… but if you do, it’s never been easier to publish your thoughts.
“nonstop but fruitless efforts to fill the yawning chasm of his soul by seeking the attention of indifferent strangers.”
Andy Borowitz, in The New Yorker
I probably shouldn’t be posting the entire piece from Andy Borowitz here. To make amends, I’ll mention that a subscription to The New Yorker is well worth the price (especially in Year 1, when they cut you a discount). There’s so much good content in every issue: news, features, fiction, cartoons, humor like the piece above, poetry…
In the “digital economy” I know people are used to getting their content for free. But keep in mind that most websites are siphoning your personal data and selling it to the highest bidder. So it only seems “free”… and you are the product. If you want to support quality writing, fork over a few bucks – the transaction is much more above-board. And go ahead and pay a bit more for the printed magazine… it’s a better experience, and easier on your eyes.
The only challenge I’ve found with my New Yorker subscription is that there’s so much great content in every issue that I’m constantly running a few weeks behind on my reading. A nice problem to have. Unless I break my glasses like ol’ Burgess Meredith in the Twilight Zone episode above.
One day ago, I’d never heard of Bud Smith. Now he’s my new hero.
OK, maybe I should pump the brakes a bit. After all “Bud Smith” sounds like some sort of Vegas alias. Or the owner of the used car lot where they sell hoopties for “$495 down – we finance!”
Actually Bud Smith is a writer.
Bud Smith is the author of the novel, Teenager, and the short story collection Double Bird, among others. He lives in Jersey City, NJ.
I’ve yet to read Bud’s novel or his short story collection. But I was born in Jersey City, so we’re kindred spirits of a sort. But the real reason we’re kindred spirits is Bud’s take on the creative process. I read this interview with my new bud Bud in The Creative Independent. (Hat tip to Cullen Lewis, who writes a weekly post on Substack, for putting this on my radar. Check out Cullen’s Bourn Yesterday today.)
You really should read the entire interview – Bud has countless pearls of wisdom to share. A few examples:
Avoid things that drain and do things that feel fulfilling.
Get comfortable doing sloppy work, malformed, phoned in, wonky work—believe you can fix it later. Because you can.
If you feel like you don’t have a place in an established scene, then you’re right, you don’t have a place, but you can always make your own spot—apart—you should. And eventually you’ll have put in your hours and you’ll have become a road tested creator. What I mean at its most basic level, if you are studying and working at something because it adds value to your life just by doing, then you’re doing it the best way. The most valuable way. Study what you love.
I love-love-love Bud’s take on the creative process. If you don’t fit in with the scene, make your own.
And if you’re doing something you enjoy, then the “ends” don’t matter. The journey is fulfilling enough.
Bud also offers up a bit of life advice, including this:
Get out of your house/apartment. Be human, see people, be part of town.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get out of my house and see if my local library has copies of Teenager and Double Bird.
From the first chapter of the George Saunders book A Swim in a Pond in the Rain:
Over the last ten years I’ve had a chance to give readings and talks all over the world and meet thousands of dedicated readers. Their passion for literature (evident in their questions from the floor, our talks at the signing table, the conversations I’ve had with book clubs) has convinced me that there is a vast underground network for goodness at work in the world—a web of people who’ve put reading at the center of their lies because they know from experience that reading makes them more expansive, generous people and makes their lives more interesting.
I love the concept of a “vast underground network for goodness”… and all it takes is cracking the cover on a good book. (You can use your eReader if you prefer — they certainly have some merits — but I’ll go old school if given my druthers.)
We certainly could use more goodness in the world.
Do you really need to do that Wordle? Watch ten more TikToks? Play Call of Duty for hours?
Reading makes them more expansive, generous people and makes their lives more interesting.
Roger Angell, longtime writer and truly the poet laureate of baseball, passed away last Friday at the age of 101.
Writing with a fan’s passion and Shakespearean splendor, he achieved literary prominence in the 1970s, when Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine clubs and the intensifying of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry helped elevate the game’s overall quality. Angell’s long-form pieces captured fans who appreciated deftly crafted, cliché-free perspectives of the game.
The piece referenced in the tweet above (and here) is about the Boston Red Sox winning their first World Series in nearly a century. I read it last night and, true WordNerd that I am, was blown away by Angell’s command of the English language. “La Rochefoucauld” and “fritillary”? That’s a true All-Star. His style matched the beauty of the game, and his prose could be as majestic as any towering home run.
But he didn’t just cover baseball. A fixture — an icon, though that word is overused — at The New Yorker for three quarters of a century, he wrote Talk of the Town columns, humor essays and the annual holiday poem… and was a stellar editor as well.
Roger Angell cared about his craft, and he heartily endorsed the passion of true fans:
Roger Angell lived to be 101. We may not make it that far into the post-season, but we can certainly try.
“Since baseball time is measured only in outs, all you have to do is succeed utterly; keep hitting, keep the rally alive, and you have defeated time. You remain forever young.”
You done said…