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Andrew Sean Greer: On Writers Block
Andrew Sean Greer is an American novelist and short-story writer. The New York Times called his 2008 novel The Story of a Marriage “lyrical” and “inspired.” His first novel, 2001’s The Path of Minor Planets, was well received, and his second, 2004’s The Confessions of Max Tivoli, earned him comparisons to Proust and Nabokov from critic John Updike. His stories have appeared in Esquire, The Paris Review, The New Yorker, and other national publications. Born in Washington, D.C., Greer received his bachelor’s degree from Brown University and his master’s degree from the University of Montana. He currently resides in San Francisco. Greer was so well received as an undergrad that his classmates elected him the commencement speaker, for his own graduation.
Andrew Sean Greer: It’s hard to tell if I’ve had writer’s block because it seems to me that it’s when nothing comes, but, you know, every day you stare at that computer screen and I think it’s never going to happen today. How can I write three pages? And the hours pass and they haven’t shown up and then at the very end it always happens, so it’s willpower. You just keep going and make pages and then out of the pages you produce you can pick something because I overwrite incredibly. I write hundreds for, this book is 198 pages, but my cuts file is 400, so a lot of that is me not stopping. You know what I mean? So that’s, I think, how I must have gotten through it.
Question: Which of your characters is your favorite?
Andrew Sean Greer: Definitely I think it’s Max Tivoli because he loved to write the devil, you know, as someone said about Milton. You know, he’s a pretty unlikable character, but because he would talk in these Victorian flourishes and could be incredibly overdone and garish, but get away with it somehow because of the time setting, I just enjoyed that freedom. You don’t get to write like that ever. No writing program would let you get away with that, so it was great and you could be so cruel. I cut out most of the cruel stuff, but I loved writing it.
Question: What inspires you?
Andrew Sean Greer: What inspires me? Well, definitely for writing what inspires me is poetry, which I have next to me all the time because I think they’re doing what I’m doing, but much harder, more condensed. It’s the same job, but they’re more talented. All of them. So I just steal openly from them. I love it. And also, definitely bewildering situations. Not just people, but traveling a lot, I think that helps a lot in the job because a lot of the job is sitting in a room alone and you can’t do that and still write about people.
Question: Why do writers drink so much?
Andrew Sean Greer: Because it helps the writing. It does. You know, I’m lucky that I am not an addict, but when the end of the book comes and you want it to work and you want the emotion there, there’s nothing like sitting there with a bottle of whiskey, and I’m not that kind of guy at all, but it works. And I think because it’s a tough thing, there’s tougher things in life than being a novelist but you have such a struggle with yourself that it’s hard to explain. It seems like it should just write itself easily, but the doubt is so intense that a drink now and then can cure it and if you went the wrong way, it’s also a crutch too. Writers rely on things that work. The magic pen and paper in view and if a whiskey works once, you could not want to miss that.
Question: Do you ever recycle characters?
Andrew Sean Greer: I’m trying to think. I have
done it a little bit. Well, in Story of a Marriage there are a couple. You would have to be a true crazy dorky fan of Max Tivoli to see everything that I carried over, but it’s there. It was for my own fun that there are some of the minor characters from there. You know, and I considered trying to write Max Tivoli again in some kind of sequel, but it’s hard to imagine how I could do it, but maybe some day or maybe one of the other characters.
Insights on his characters, inspirations, advice, and why writers drink.
Building a personal connection with students can counteract some negative side effects of remote learning.
- Not being able to engage with students in-person due to the pandemic has presented several new challenges for educators, both technical and social. Digital tools have changed the way we all think about learning, but George Couros argues that more needs to be done to make up for what has been lost during "emergency remote teaching."
- One interesting way he has seen to bridge that gap and strengthen teacher-student and student-student relationships is through an event called Identity Day. Giving students the opportunity to share something they are passionate about makes them feel more connected and gets them involved in their education.
- "My hope is that we take these skills and these abilities we're developing through this process and we actually become so much better for our kids when we get back to our face-to-face setting," Couros says. He adds that while no one can predict the future, we can all do our part to adapt to it.
Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as possible.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.