My favorite book designers had a brainstorm. They said, “For many people, 2011 was not such a good year in so many ways . . . . But to be fair, 2011 was never marketed very well. People tend to see what they expect, and expectations have not been very high for a while. Perhaps a good brand identity would have helped. That is why for 2012 we thought we would start the year off right with a selection of possible branding options, things that some of us could be looking forward to, and which may help us all have better expectations.” (That’s John Wollinka and Dan van Loon of Design Corps, who obviously design other wonders in addition to books.)
Filmmaker Rick Stevenson vividly recalls certain observations he had in his childhood. (I LOVED his brilliant and candid introduction.) He was ambitious enough to follow over 60 children through 5000 days of their lives. This first documentary begins with six- and eight-year-old brothers. We watch as they outgrow their sibling upsets, become best friends, and grow into men. You have to suspect that being interviewed helps them live an examined, more fulfilling life.
This first one is dear to my heart because I’ve raised my sons in the same traditions, and because I’m raising sons in general, but I can’t wait to see the rest of these revealing and developing self-portraits. Storytelling means understanding our common humanity and our fascinating differences. It means being inspired by each other.
It’s a brilliant idea to borrow: capture your own growth and that of your young ones with a series of video interviews, perhaps as a birthday tradition. And it turns out that there’s even a private version of 5000 Days where you can upload video diaries as a time capsule, and later choose whether to submit them to the project.
The film will be available online for a little while here:
“Struggling with your novel? Paralyzed by the fear that it’s nowhere near good enough? Feeling caught in a trap of your own devising? You should probably give up.” Lemony Snicket
My favorite feature of the NaNoWriMo site is its collection of pep talks. You could spend the whole month there escaping from writing altogether. I printed out one of those pep talks so the master of Unfortunate Events could send me screaming back to my work whenever I need that. He calls those sinister doubts my brain dreams up and smashes them, eloquently. Maybe he will work that magic for you as well. Here’s another passage:
“So who cares? Think of that secret favorite book of yours–not the one you tell people you like best, but that book so good that you refuse to share it with people because they’d never understand it. Perhaps it’s not even a whole book, just a tiny portion that you’ll never forget as long as you live. Nobody knows you feel this way about that tiny portion of literature, so what does it matter? The author of that small bright thing, that treasured whisper deep in your heart, never should have bothered.”
How will those you love be remembered? Even a couple of pages can convey the personality, values, and contributions of someone whose legacy matters to you.
You could go multi-media, like Apple’s memorial event (if you want to keep making the technology transfers), but remember Steve’s advice: “Simple can be harder than complex. . . . but it’s worth it when you get there because then you can move mountains.”
NaNoWriMo begins today: National Novel Writing Month. You write 50,000 words in November and win bragging rights. 1700 words, 7 pages a day, and you’re done early. Simple. Not easy.
And no, not I. And not this year again. I do have several friends who have done it. Each finished, and now raves about the experience. Some are repeat participants.
There’s now Camp NaNoWriMo, “An Idyllic Writers Retreat Smack-Dab in the Middle of Your Crazy Life.” That about describes the writer’s life whether you brave the novel-in-a-month challenge or not. I love founder Chris Baty’s book title, No Plot, No Problem, and his whole emphasis on word count first, because first you have to get something on the page. There’s also the gift of community: where the craziest dreams become sane and even possible. The same folks host April’s Script Frenzy, but let’s not get overwhelmed.
Yes, geese. You only need 15 seconds for this one, though you’ll probably replay it.
This might not strike your funny bone the way it hit at our house, but if you laughed, then this little scene dispels the oft-quoted humor theory of surprise. (That would be me to young son, claiming that things are never funny the second time, the fifth, the twenty-third.) Well, some things are way funnier multiplied by sixty-five. I’m sure humor scholar Don Nilsen has an explanation for this.