Charles Daly

Writer

Tag: book club

Reading List: “Thrilling Cities”

“Never say ‘no’ to adventures. Always say ‘yes,’ otherwise, you’ll lead a very dull life.”

― Ian Fleming

 

Happy New Year. The theme for this week is adventure. I’ve been lucky enough to spend 10 of the first 18 days of 2019 on the road in Ireland and the American south.  On my wander, I’ve been reading up on adventurers past and present, including a mildly racist 1960 travel guide, relationship advice from a war photographer,  and a weekend trip up the highest mountain in Mexico.

 

What I’m Reading

Vagabonding by Rolf Potts — I come back to this book again and again as I plan adventures and extended trips abroad. Put this at the top of your list if you’re interested in longterm travel (i.e., Teaching abroad, working remotely, or saving a bunch of money and fucking off on a world tour. ) Potts shows you how to make “vagabonding” a reality, how to avoid common pitfalls, in both mindset and logistics, and gives examples of how others have done it. He also includes information on how to see the world with a family or if you’re elderly or have special needs. This is the book I want to give to everyone who’s ever said “must be nice…” or “I wish I had the (time/ money/ courage) to do that…” when I tell them that I’m traveling pretty much full time.

Thrilling Cities by Ian Fleming — A Mad Men era bachelor’s guide to the great cities of the world by the creator of James Bond. These essays were originally published–in an edited form–in the Saturday Evening Post. That they’re so politically incorrect by today’s standards makes them that much more charming. The prose is outstanding, and the content ranges from “shit my grandpa says” to wildly offensive, but it’s never boring.

The Story of the First Sherpa to Climb to the Top of Mt. Everest — From the June 5th, 1954 issue of the New Yorker, a feature on Tenzing Norgay, the Nepalese sherpa who shared the first ascent of Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary.

Sir Don McCullin: What I’ve Learned — War photographer Don McCullin shares his life lessons with Esquire UK ahead of a retrospective of his work at Tate Britain.

 

What I’m Watching

55 Hours in Mexico — This 9-minute Vimeo documentary proves that you don’t need to wait for a vacation to go on an adventure. The film follows a group of skiers from Colorado who take a weekend trip to Mexico where they climb the country’s highest mountain and ski down it and are home in time for work on Monday.

What I’m Doing

Taking pictures. I shot a bunch of 35mm film in Ireland on a cheap little Minolta point & shoot, mostly portraits of my friends.

 

*Full disclosure: this post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my blog. 


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Reading List: If you Write, You’re a Writer

“If you write, you’re a writer. And no one can take that away from you.”

–Brian Koppelman

 

What I’m Reading

Rogue Heroes: The History of the SAS, Britain’s Secret Special Forces Unit That Sabotaged the Nazis and Changed the Nature of War by Ben Macintyre — “This book is about courage,” Macintyre writes in the introduction. I was expecting to nerd-out on some military history and got so much more. This book is about strategy, problem-solving, adversity, and how to influence people who aren’t ready for your vision of the future. If you’re into WWII you’ll love this book, but I’d also recommend it to founders, freelancers, and entrepreneurs. It’s basically the story of a military startup.

So Good They Can’t Ignore: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love You By Cal Newport  — As with Rogue Heroes, the long subtitle sums this one up nicely. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in finding work they love. It challenges the “passion mindset” with the “craftsman’s mindset.” The former focuses on what your work can do for you, the latter is about what you can offer the world through your work.

“What Happened After Jonestown?” — A nauseating look at the cleanup and controversy that followed the worst mass suicide in recent times. Not something to read over lunch.

Sam Shepard’s letters and a collection of his interviews.

Brian Koppelman’s Tweets — Just what the doctor ordered when you’re struggling with your creative work.

 

What I’m Listening To

“Jonestown” The Last Podcast on the Left — A five-part deep dive into Jim Jones, his cult, and their mass suicide. Listener discretion is advised, especially if you can’t take sick jokes.

What I’m Watching

Liz Wellington on House Hunters International — My friend, the travel writer and content strategist, Liz Wellington was featured on House Hunters International as she and her boyfriend search for an apartment in Madrid.

Kent William’s advice to aspiring artists — Two and a half minutes of awesomeness from a talented and successful painter.

What I’m Writing

Drafting some Medium posts in my free time after my fiction, nonfiction, and freelancing work are done for the day.

The Title Capitalization Tool — I found this handy site while trying to figure out how to capitalize the headline for this post. Plug in your title or headline and it will automatically convert it to the correct format in  AP, APA, or Chicago style.

 

*Full disclosure: this post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my blog. 


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Writer’s Gift Guide 2018

The things that make someone a writer can’t be bought. There’s no Black Friday sale on heartbreak, introversion, or an unhappy childhood. You can’t buy inspiration or a gift card redeemable by the muse. But you can buy the writer in your life a few material things to make his or her work more comfortable and pleasurable. Here are a few gift ideas, most of which I use or have used.

For more suggestions be sure to check out Kaleigh Moore’s 2018 Freelancer’s Gift guide (and if anyone wants to buy me that chair she recommends…)

Pens

An inexpensive fountain pen like the Kaweco Classic Sport or the Lamy Safari. These are cheap but they last forever and write like something much more expensive. Both are considered new classics, and any serious pen collector will appreciate them no matter what else they have in their collection. Either one is a perfect everyday jotter for someone who already has something more expensive they’re afraid to lose.

For a stocking stuffer, consider the disposable Pilot Varsity or the Platinum Preppy.

The world of high-end fountain pens can be hard to navigate, and there’s a lot of overpriced gilded bullshit out there. Here are my three favorites.

The Sailor 1911 (this is the pen, with a medium-fine nib, is the one I write with)

The Lamy 2000

The Pilot Heritage 92

Both the Lamy and the Pilot are piston fillers, meaning they require ink from a bottle. The Sailor takes cartridges, so it’s better for travel in my opinion.

If you live in New York, you can buy your pens in person at Goods for the Study or the Fountain Pen Hospital. In Boston, check out the Bromfield Pen Shop. In Montréal, go to Nota Benne where they also sell refurbished typewriters.

 

Paper

My favorite leather notebook is the Leuchtturm1917. It has numbered pages, a blank table of contents, two bookmark ribbons and way better paper than a Moleskine. Obviously, you can get 240 sheets of bound paper for less than $20, but the way I see it, journals are R.O.I positive. I get more than $20 worth of ideas out of mine, I get more than $20 worth of enjoyment out of writing on nice paper, and I get more than $20 of productivity out of it by using mine as a Bullet Journal.

Yellow legal pads are the best deal in paper. My entire outlining process is designed for a single sheet of yellow legal paper. I get mine in bulk from Amazon.

Everything I write that’s longer than a few pages starts on index cards, and I’ve recently started using them to take notes on what I read. I like Oxford 3x5s. I don’t have big enough ideas for 4×6.

Books

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield — A book about resistance (writer’s block) and how to defeat it one day at a time. I recommend this book to anyone who thinks they’re too tough for writerly self-help.

Show your Work and Steal Like an Artist and Keep Going (preorder) by Austin Kleon — Motivation and inspiration in the form of books that are works of art in their own right.

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott — A holistic approach to the creative life. A good one for the writer who needs to learn self-kindness.

Mastery By Robert Greene — A doorstopper about how we master skills and what we can learn from past and current masters in areas from sculpture to boxing.

Pep Talks for Writers By Grant Faulker — Just What it sounds like from the founder of NaNoWriMo.

A Waterproof Kindle — I’ll probably get one when I inevitably destroy my old one in the water.

An Audible Membership – You get one free book every month (or three if you get the Platinum plan) and if you’re like me and you read 30-hour+ books like Robert Greene’s Laws of Human Nature or the new translation of Don Quixoteyou end up amassing a bunch of credits as they roll over month-to-month.


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*Full disclosure: this post contains affiliate links. 

Reading List: Mood Tunes and a WWI Podcast

“You know who doesn’t go around calling themselves ’the boss?’ Bosses.” —Ryan Holiday

I’m still reading Sam Shepard’s The One Insideso I haven’t got any book recommendations for you this week. I do however have a bunch of articles, on everything from mortgage payments to bullies, and two of the best Spotify playlists ever made.

Enjoy.

What I’m Reading 

“Your Life in Weeks” — If this article from Wait But why? doesn’t motivate you to get busy living, I don’t know what will. Spoiler alert: we don’t have much time.

Frogman Comics — Entertaining my inner-boy and doing some research for the novel with these vintage comics about the real-life exploits of the Navy frogmen. The Frogman series was originally published in 1952 in the middle of the Korean War, shortly after the role of the frogmen in D-Day and the Pacific had been declassified. The reprinting features ads from the 1950s including mail-order fitness plans for kids who are tired of being picked on for being skinny.

“‘Never Forget’: the Story of Pete Davidson’s Father killed on 9/11” — My brother, Michael Daly, honoring a fallen hero in the Daily Beast. 

“The Tradeoff: The True Story of my $624 mortgage payment”–Catherine Baab-Muguira tells the story of a real estate bargain that gave her the freedom to travel and write more. This post and her piece on whether or not writers need to move to New York have been helpful to me as I figure out my next move.

Ryan Holiday:

  • “Living Like a Boss” — On why you should shut up, keep your head down, and let your work speak for itself. He also gets into why consultants and self-proclaimed experts tend to be “clueless assholes.”
  • “Maybe and Might” — On the virtues of ambivalence and loosely held opinions.
  • Means— Why you shouldn’t take advantage of a dip in the economy to upgrade your living situation any more than you should move your house closer to the water when the tide goes out.

Robert Greene has two fantastic posts on dealing with difficult people which draw from his latest book The Laws of Human Nature:

 

What I’m Listening to

Hardcore History, “Blueprint for Armageddon” A multi-part, 20+ hour deep-dive into WWI, it’s causes and implications extending to the present day.

Two Spotify playlists: Little Big Clap and Really Good Mood Tunes. If you’re getting married anytime soon, forget the DJ, don’t hire a band, all you need is an AUX cable and these playlists.

What I’m Writing

Deep in the re-writes of my dad’s book and a novel. Anyone can start two books in a year, finishing them is a challenge.

What I’m Doing

Exploring the Cape Cod National Seashore. Henry David Thoreau said of this stretch of coast,

“A man may stand there and put all Americans behind him.”

 


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Reading List: “Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t”

I’m keeping my head down this week, and getting back to not giving a fuck about anything but the work after I voted and fulfilled my civic duty on Tuesday and checked my phone for results all night.

Politics tends to be a blind spot in my reading as it will be in these roundup posts. That said, anyone interested in finding a non-obvious way to take on Trump should read Conspiracy: Theil, Hulk Hogan, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, Ryan Holiday’s account of the Hulk Hogan vs. Gawker lawsuit and its implications for next-level dissent.

What I’m Reading

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight — The story of how Nike was built out of Knight’s parents’ basement.

The One Inside by Sam Shepard — So far I’ve only read the lyrical introduction by Patti Smith who describes it as a work of a “loner who doesn’t want to be alone.” Who is “Captivated, confused, and amused by women, drawn toward them yet compelled to skip out.” Shepard dedicates the book to multiple women.

Nobody Wants to Read your Sh*t: Why That is and What to do about it by Steven Pressfield As in his other books, Pressfield preaches the gospel of showing the fuck up, overcoming procrastination, and organizing your work with a three-act structure. He talks about the various stages of his career and why copywriting is phenomenal training for an aspiring novelist.

“I’m a Millennial and I don’t Understand my Peers–  Not Even a Little Bit” By Ryan Holiday

Ryan Holiday’s advice on how and why to find a mentor and why you shouldn’t use the word “mentor” in their presence.

John LeFevre, Creator of @GSElevator,  just for fun. He has some solid advice about affiliate links (which, by the way my reading list uses) as a way to generate passive income for writers.

What I’m Listening to

A TED Talk about how and why to work for free some of the time.

Radiolab, “In the No.” a 3-part, NSFW, series about consent.

What I’m Writing

Lots of housekeeping this week:

I’ve been self-educating about SEO and setting up a new theme for my website.

I wrote a letter (okay, an email) to one of my favorite living crime writers, and he wrote me back. Made my week.

What I’m doing

Headed to New York for a fundraiser supporting my filmmaker friend Bridget Gormley‘s documentary about post 9/11 illness.

Reading List: Don’t Order Fish on Monday

“Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park.”
–Anthony Bourdain

What I’m Reading

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. A must-read for anyone who’s ever worked in a restaurant or eaten in one.  It’s where he explains why you should never order fish on a Monday. This is my first time re-reading it since he eighty-sixed himself, and I’m rapidly alternating between anger and admiration.

Bourdain’s Articles on Medium including one about #metoo and his feelings of personal responsibility for having perpetuated a culture of “grotesque behavior” in kitchens with his early writing.

 “Here’s what Happened when I Quit Drinking A year Ago.” Quitting drinking from a perspective that’s a little more relatable to nonalcoholics.

How to Read More–a lot More.” In a short post reminiscent of Orwell’s “Books vs. Cigarettes“, Ryan Holiday reminds us that reading is not a luxury.

What I’ve Been Listening to

 The audiobook of Kitchen Confidentialin which Bourdain voices the accents of his runners, busboys, and mob-connected purveyors.

The Velvet Underground & Nico.

Weezer covering “Africa” by Toto after being successfully petitioned to do so by a fan on Twitter.

What I’ve Been Writing

I’ve been taking notes for the first time while I read.


Show Your Work!

 Yesterday’s blog post started as a long caption on Instagram, under a photo of my writing tools. I was sharing my stoke over starting a new novel–in the only way I can since I won’t say what it’s about until I have a draft–but I was also answering a prompt from Austin Kleon’s handy little book,  Show Your Work! In this guide to putting your stuff out in the world, Kleon dispenses powerful and simple advice like “share something small every day.”

 

 

Show your Work by Austin Kleon share something small every day

 

Yesterday, I was doing just that—as I am in with this post. Both days I felt like I had nothing to say, and I’m sure I’ll have to slay that dragon again tomorrow. What got me writing was letting go of the need to create from scratch, opting instead to document what’s right in front of me.

 

In the third day of writing a novel, I don’t have any creative writing that’s ready to share. But I can talk about my process, my tools, my creeping insecurities, and the books on my nightstand—including the one that inspired me to write this post in the first place.

 

Kleon offers specific advice on how to do this:

 

“Once a day, after you’ve done your days work, go back to your documentation and find one little piece of your process that you can share. Where you are in your process will determine what the piece is. If you’re in the very early stages, share your influences and what’s inspiring you. If you’re in the middle of executing a project, write about your methods or share works in progress. If you’ve just completed a project, show the final product, share scraps from the cutting room floor, or write about what you learned. If you have lots of projects out in the world, you can report on how they’re doing—you can tell stories about how people are interacting with your work.” (Kleon, 48.)

 

He also shares a graphic outlining what to share and what not to share:

 

Austin Kleon show your work share something small every day

And that’s the problem: I sort of conflated sharing with oversharing, as if showing friends and followers where I work is the same thing as a selfie-reel or pictures of my lunch.

 

At first glance, that attitude might seem profound, like a humble stand against the self importance and the vapidity of social media. But really, it’s just control freakery in disguise. Part of sharing one’s stuff is letting it go. I don’t dictate the terms of how others experience my work. I don’t get to micro-mange their response. And that’s a good thing, because the response to my post was better than anything I could have arranged for myself:

 

I connected with some new writers, who must have found me through the hashtags.

 

A buddy of mine asked to be a character in the novel—he doesn’t know he already is.

 

One friend noticed the crime writing hashtags and asked me all about that genre—something she didn’t know I was into. And she, in turn, told me about fantasy writing and world-building, something I didn’t know she was working on.

 

Another friend, who I haven’t talked to in a while shared what he learned about long projects from his marathon training. We ended up talking about his next race. (What up, Pete!)

 

None of this would have happened if I hadn’t gotten over myself and put my scrap of the day out into the world.

 

show your work by austin kleon

 

What I’ve Been Reading–one Month into my Book Diet

Last month, I started a “reading diet.” The idea comes from Ray Bradbury who recommended that the aspiring read one short story, one poem, and one essay every day, and one novel per week.

I’m reckoning with something I wish I had known a long time ago, that reading is part of your workday as a writer. It’s not laziness or procrastination, it’s not passive, and it’s not optional. You can read more about my first two weeks of this experiment here.

This is  what I read in the second half of March.

What I’m reading

Stories from:

 

 

 

Essays & Non-Fiction:

 

  • “Heroin/e” –Cheryl Strayed

 

 

 

 

 

Poems From:

Novels:

  • I started Proust’s Swann’s Way but swapped it out for John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces after about 20 pages. The former is much harder to read without the snotty English major zeal I had the first time around.

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