What’s the good reading stuff round-up for this week? Here are a couple of things that made an impression on me this week.
What’s Your Lucky Number?
The best email I got all week was the 02/25/15 edition of Hugh McLeod’s Gaping Void newsletter, a daily missive of his quirky and smile-inducing cartoons, in which he shared this inspiring fact:
Five thousand one hundred and twenty-six failed vacuum cleaners.
That’s how many prototypes it took for James Dyson to get it right.
5, 127 was his lucky number. He’s now worth over $4 billion.
It’s not about being brilliant, or about always being right.
It’s about not giving up before you have the chance to succeed.
If you’re interested in getting a daily cartoon that will make you happy, make you think, and possibly make you question the status quo, you can sign up for McLeod’s newsletter here:
(By the way, in the video on that page, McLeod shares a great way to think about “marketing” that makes it feel genuine and natural; if you’re a creative trying to find a way to sell your products and services without feeling icky or uncomfortable, be sure to watch it.)
Stay Weird, Stay Different
Screenwriter Graham Moore’s Oscar acceptance speech for best adapted screenplay for the film The Imitation Game brought tears to my eyes, and I’m not alone. It was magical.
Here’s part of what he shared:
“When I was 16 years old, I tried to kill myself because I felt weird and I felt different and I felt like I did not belong. And now I am standing here. So I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she’s weird or she’s different or she doesn’t fit in anywhere. Yes, you do. You do. Stay weird, stay different. And when it’s your turn to stand on this stage, pass the message along.”
I’m getting all teary again reading it now. What can I say? Despite my hard-candy outer shell, I’m an emotional softie on the inside.
Editing is a “Wifely Trade,” Marketing Plans in Book Proposals Are “Nonsense,” and Other Retro Reflections
I finished a book this week called, Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction – Stories and advice from a lifetime of writing and editing, by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tracy Kidder and his long-time editor, Richard Todd.
I loved reading about the years-long relationship between Todd and Kidder, as anything that delves into the realities of the writer’s life interests me, but there were a few passages in the book that left me scratching my head. And by “scratching my head,” I mean thinking, “you can’t be serious.”
Editing is a wifely trade. This is a disquieting thought for editors, certainly for male editors, and in a different way for some female editors too, but editing does involve those skills that are stereotypically female: listening, supporting, intuiting. And, like wives, editors are given to irony and indirection. When male editors become bullies it may be because they resent their feminized role. (They shouldn’t take it out on writers. They need other avenues for their manly impulses, skydiving, Formula One racing, something.) However hesitant, timid, and self-doubting writers feel, they nonetheless remain the stereotypically male figures in the relationship, whatever their gender. Writers assert. Editors react.
There are even book proposal consultants and book proposal formulas. Authors are advised to create ‘marketing plans’ to include in their proposals, and some dutifully spend weeks on the chore. Most of this is nonsense, and bad advice.
I am not making this up. And this book was published in 2013. 2013!!
And that’s a few notes on some things I read/saw this week. Feel free to leave a comment below about what you’ve been reading, or share reading suggestions. Thanks!