Summary of “How to Write a Thank You Note for Any Occasion”

After every birthday party, Christmas, or any other occasion where someone had given me a gift, my mom wouldn’t let me rest until I’d written a thank you note to every last person.
Why write a thank you note to begin with? In some cases, the need is obvious.
If you receive a birthday gift you should write a thank you note both to show your gratitude and to let the person know you received their gift.
Do you send your boss a thank you note forgiving you a job? What about your who helped you during their office hours? You can’t spend all your time writing thank you notes, after all.
The type of thank you note you write to a professor who helped you pass Calculus is going to be different from the kind you write to a friend you’ve known since childhood.
To break you out of that paralysis, here’s a format that works for any thank you notes you’ll need to write.
Send the Note ASAP. Now that your note is error-free and polished, send it as soon as you can.
I hope this post has shown you how to write any kind of thank you note you could ever need.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Grammar Purity is One Big Ponzi Scheme”

To hear some sticklers talk, you’d think that somewhere, in a classified location, there’s a top-secret grammar law library that houses the voluminous Grammar Penal Code: an official list of all the things you’d be “Wrong” to do.
There is no official source of grammar prohibitions.
If suddenly everyone in the English-speaking world started saying him wants instead of he wants, sometime in the next century him would be correct, sanctioned by every grammar authority alive.
Just as the winners write the history books, the most powerful group of English language users write the grammar books.
Every student of grammar needs to understand that underlying all discussions of grammar propriety is a struggle over who gets to call the shots-whose English is the official English.
Doing so is no more a grammar error than using numerals instead of words to write 100.
A great deal of modern-day grammar confusion stems from people not understanding the role of style guides.
From cocktail parties to kitchen tables, these seemingly fascinating bits of grammar trivia have been repeated over and over, in some cases for centuries.

The orginal article.

Summary of “5 Things Only Serious Writers Do”

There are five fundamental things that set serious writers apart from the rest.
She reminded me that serious writers don’t wait for the muse to visit them before they start, and this is echoed by many famous writers I’ve spoken with over the years.
The power of simply starting is an incredible psychological tool for serious writers.
All serious writers know that small, incremental steps are the only path to achieving great work, and that you can’t edit a blank page.
All serious writers know that every inspired or brilliant page is typically preceded by a dozen shitty ones.
The award-winning creator, producer, and host of the megahit Lore podcast, TV show, and book series, Aaron Mahnke, came on the podcast to discuss his writing regimen and share some advice for serious writers.
All serious writers meet their deadlines with ease, and they don’t sweat it because they have the tools at hand to keep the cursor moving until the job is done.
Only serious writers have the ability to focus on what’s important and tune out what’s not.

The orginal article.

Summary of “No, you probably don’t have a book in you”

When people talk about “Having a book in them,” or when people tell others they should write a book, what they really mean is I bet someone, but probably not me because I already heard it, would pay money to hear this story.
A book has a beginning, middle, and an end that keeps the reader invested for the five, six, ten hours it can take to read a book, because if it gets boring in the middle, most people stop reading.
Writing a book that people will pay money for or take a trip to the library to read, requires an awareness few storytellers have.
A publisher doesn’t really want book two until they see how book number one is selling.
Publishers take a financial risk on a book, because no one knows how a book is going to sell until it’s on shelves, and very successful authors help pay the bills for the less successful books.
No one deserves to be published just because they completed a book.
Writing a book that someone else wants to read is running your fastest marathon.
Just be careful when well-meaning, though wholly uninformed, people say you should write a book.

The orginal article.

Summary of “What is the Morally Appropriate Language in Which to Think and Write?”

At a book reading in Kolkata, about a week after my first novel, The God of Small Things, was published, a member of the audience stood up and asked, in a tone that was distinctly hostile: “Has any writer ever written a masterpiece in an alien language? In a language other than his mother tongue?” I hadn’t claimed to have written a masterpiece, but nevertheless I understood his anger toward a me, a writer who lived in India, wrote in English, and who had attracted an absurd amount of attention.
The correct answer to that question today would of course be “Algorithms.” Artificial Intelligence, we are told, can write masterpieces in any language and translate them into masterpieces in other languages.
As the era that we know, and think we vaguely understand, comes to a close, perhaps we, even the most privileged among us, are just a group of redundant humans gathered here with an arcane interest in language generated by fellow redundants.
To reify language in the way both men had renders language speechless.
What was-is-the politically correct, culturally apposite, and morally appropriate language in which I ought to think and write? It occurred to me that my mother was actually an alien, with fewer arms than Kali perhaps but many more tongues.
“What was-is-the politically correct, culturally apposite, and morally appropriate language in which I ought to think and write?”.
Regardless of which language The Ministry was written in, this particular narrative about these particular people in this particular universe would had to be imagined in several languages.
Each of those translators has to grapple with a language that is infused with many languages including, if I may coin a word, many kinds of Englishes and translate it into another language that is infused with many languages.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Kurt Vonnegut Offers 8 Tips on How to Write Good Short Stories”

You can’t talk about American literature in the second half of the 20th century without talking about Kurt Vonnegut.
He worked wonders with the short story, a form in whose heyday he began his writing career, but he also had a knack for what would become the most social media-friendly of all forms, the list.
Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.
In the short lecture above Vonnegut gets more technical, sketching out the shapes that stories, short or long, can take.
In one possible story the protagonist begins slightly happier than average, gets into trouble, and then gets out of it again.
Vonnegut first explored the idea of story shapes in his master’s thesis, rejected by the University of Chicago “Because it was so simple and looked like too much fun.” Clearly that didn’t stop him from continuing to think about and experiment with those shapes all throughout his career.
He assigned term papers that can still teach you how to read like a writer, he appeared on television dispensing advice to aspirants to the craft, and he even published articles on how to write with style.
Nobody could, or should try to, write just like Kurt Vonnegut, but all of us who write at all could do well to give our craft the kind of thought he did.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Iris Murdoch on Storytelling, Why Art Is Essential for Democracy, and the Key to Good Writing – Brain Pickings”

“One of the functions of art,” Ursula K. Le Guin observed in contemplating art, storytelling, and the power of language to transform and redeem, “Is to give people the words to know their own experience Storytelling is a tool for knowing who we are and what we want.” Because self-knowledge is the most difficult of the arts of living, because understanding ourselves is a prerequisite for understanding anybody else, and because we can hardly fathom the reality of another without first plumbing our own depths, art is what makes us not only human but humane.
Literary writing is an art, an aspect of an art form.
“Art is mimesis and good art is, to use another Platonic term, anamnesis,”memory” of what we did not know we knew Art “holds the mirror up to nature.
There is always more bad art around than good art, and more people like bad art than like good art.
Good art is good for people precisely because it is not fantasy but imagination.
Beauty in art is the formal imaginative exhibition of something true, and criticism must remain free to work at a level where it can judge truth in art Training in an art is largely training in how to discover a touchstone of truth; and there is an analogous training in criticism.
A quarter century after Hannah Arendt penned her timeless treatise on how dictatorships use isolation as a weapon of oppression, Murdoch considers this singular virtue of “merciful objectivity” at the heart of art – the selfsame virtue of which totalitarian regimes bereave society by persecuting art and artists.
Complement this particular portion with Rebecca West on storytelling as a survival mechanism, Pablo Neruda’s touching account of what a childhood encounter taught him about why we make art, and Jeanette Winterson on how art redeems our inner lives, then revisit Iris Murdoch on causality, chance, and how love gives meaning to our existence and her devastatingly beautiful love letters.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Can Economists and Humanists Ever Be Friends?”

In my part of South London, a street that was once economically rather eclectic was becoming increasingly homogeneous, with new arrivals drawn entirely from finance and its ancillary professions.
Finance has ingenuity, expertise, and dazzling possibilities for earning and losing money, but none of these are quite the same thing as wisdom.
He regrets the chasm between finance and the rest of society, and he sets out to bridge it with a warmhearted and engaging set of stories in which he pairs fundamental principles of finance with parallel examples from the humanities.
“Viewing finance through the prism of the humanities will help us to restore humanity to finance,” he writes, making a claim very similar to that made in “Cents and Sensibility.”
Desai takes us on a journey through the fundamentals of finance, from asset pricing to risk and risk management, via options, mergers, debt, and bankruptcy.
Desai explores the intellectual crevasse between the money people and the rest of us in his final chapter, called, trenchantly, “Why Everyone Hates Finance.” One explanation is “The asshole theory of finance”: that finance isn’t inherently bad and neither are the people it attracts, but “Finance fuels ego and ambition in an unusually powerful way.” The underlying reason is that finance is full of “Attribution errors,” in which people view their successes as deserved and their failures as bad luck.
What’s more, he says, “The ‘discipline of the market’ shrouds all of finance in a meritocratic haze.” And so people who succeed in finance “Are susceptible to developing massively outsized egos and appetites.”
The gap between economics, finance, and the rest of society would be difficult to fix even if everyone wanted to do so, and it isn’t obvious that everyone does.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The roots of writing lie in hopes and dreams, not in accounting”

Every week seems to bring fresh news of a dimmer future for writing, whether it’s thanks to AI-curated, voice-operated information interfaces or in the hopes pinned on emojis as a universal writing system.
In China, for example, the earliest writing samples, which were divination texts carved into bone and turtle shell, date to approximately 1320 BCE, but archaeologists don’t know whether there was also administrative, propagandistic or literary writing happening at the same time.
All the existing examples of Mesoamerican writing are engravings on rock or murals; writing on other materials, such as palm leaf, were either lost to decay or destroyed by the Spanish conquerors.
Before phonetic writing there was iconography, and early writing itself featured leaders, rulers, prisoner-taking, and conquests.
Even in Mesopotamia, a phonetic cuneiform script was used for a few hundred years for accounting before writing was used for overtly political purposes.
As far as the reductive argument that accountants invented writing in Mesopotamia, it’s true that writing came from counting, but temple priests get the credit more than accountants do.
The French anthropologist Pierre Déléage studies the invention of writing in many cultural contexts, and distinguishes ‘unbound’ forms of writing from ‘bound’ ones.
The deep history of your poetic form, your contracts and your epitaph might lie in scrawls on a cave wall or lists of royal ancestors, some of them divine, but the achievement of unbound writing stems from the needs and prerogatives of government, in the end.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Drawn from life: why have novelists stopped making things up?”

“L’autofiction, c’est comme le rêve; un rêve n’est pas la vie, un livre n’est pas la vie.” Serge Doubrovsky, the French writer and theorist whose 1977 novel Fils is widely credited as the first work of “Autofiction”, provides not a definition but an elaboration: autofiction is as a dream; a dream is not life, a book is not life.
By contrast, for White the liberties that writers of fiction can take with truth – compressing events, creating composite characters – are a way of freeing them from the charge of lying by, paradoxically, making things up.
It’s not an unusual stance for such a writer to take, and nor does it contradict analyses that approach the question from a slightly different angle, such as that of the short story writer Lucia Berlin, who told the New Yorker: “Somehow there must occur the most imperceptible alteration of reality. A transformation, not a distortion of the truth. The story itself becomes the truth, not just for the writer but for the reader. In any good piece of writing it is not an identification with a situation, but this recognition of truth that is thrilling.”
Long have aspiring fiction writers been told to write what they know, only to find themselves criticised for lacking imagination.
Later, she writes humorously of being usurped as an object of interest when men in the street stop her to ask about the workings of her e-bike; dutifully, she provides an explanation of its speed and motor, ruefully realising she has become a minor character in her life.
One felt, Cusk stood accused of selling her life and her brain, and her subsequent trilogy, in which the writer effaces herself and thrusts forward others’ words, can stand as a response to that accusation.
The critic Jonathan Gibbs recently wrote of his reservations about the reception of autofiction as a new form that knocks previous forms aside, and sends us to “a place where to write a good old-fashioned novel, with rounded characters, and realist description, and manufactured plots, is, oh dear me yes, something that is beyond the bounds of tastefulness. As if to write a traditional novel is akin to producing ‘likable’ characters”.
Perhaps the writers of autofiction, he wonders, simply want to move on from that somewhat refined style, and “To push the novel towards the speculative, the philosophic, the contingent: the novel as scattered notes, Wittgenstein with characters”.

The orginal article.