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Andrew Sean Greer: Where to Write
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.
Question: Is it easier to write in New York or San Francisco?
Andrew Sean Greer: That’s hard. I was so young when I was in New York. I certainly wrote a lot. But last time I was here I found it really distracting. It was hard to stay indoors because I wanted to be out all the time. I think the most important thing is to just get a ritual down wherever you are.
Question: What is your writing process?
Andrew Sean Greer: The process. Well, there’s two parts to it. There’s the long-term process of a novel and then there’s the daily stuff. You know, it’s like planning for a marathon. You set up your training schedule, you know, you have your idea and I plot it out, I make a huge outline of it and then I work every day about 9:00 to 2:00 or 3:00. I have to get three pages done every day and there’s usually a point about 150 pages in where everything falls apart, where all the plans are for naught. The book has become something else and I have a nervous breakdown and then I submit to what the book has become and I keep going and that’s a terrible and then a great time. No one likes to be around me during that.
Question: What is your advice to young writers?
Andrew Sean Greer: It’s so hard to know what to tell people. I mean, I really think it’s just what everyone says, it’s a willpower kind of a game because the weirdest part in graduate school was that the most talented writers were not the ones that became writers, it was dogged ones and that’s actually talent too, I guess. Is just being willing to go every day and stay there until the pages appear every day. I tell this to my students too. I’m, like, I know you can write a short story overnight, but that’s not the job. It’s not a long-term skill. You need to write a short story over a month, every month, and I think that’s it.
Question: Was graduate school the right decision?
Andrew Sean Greer: It was. I don’t think it’s the right decision for everyone. You know, I was coming from New York, I couldn’t afford anything. I was having a hard time figuring how to be a writer here and going to Montana was a very attractive, completely different plan and it worked out great for me, but I’m not sure it helped my writing, you know. Because you have a committee of people who are also young like you and don’t really know how to do it well either, so it’s a funny committee to be submitting your work to. You have to really know, be confident in what you’re doing because I wasn’t writing like anyone else there and that was hard for me to figure out and it’s destructive to a novel for sure because you meet every week with part of a novel. Really what
you should tell a novelist is keep going until you finish the draft. Don’t show it to anyone.
Question: Do trees enable writing?
Andrew Sean Greer: Oh, in Montana? Yeah, it was great, but then also, it was pretty cold, dark winters. I guess that helps novel writing too historically, but it also helps drinking, you know, at those times, but maybe that helps a novel too. But I love it. I go every year and stay for a long time. I love going to writers’ colonies in pastoral settings where there’s nothing to do, but either walk around or read a book or work on your book and they all seem helpful.
Question: What’s your favorite writers colony?
Andrew Sean Greer: In New Hampshire, the McDowell colony. I’m going there in a month. Yeah, can’t wait. Because you work all day and produce so much work and it doesn’t feel like work. It just feels like when you start out writing and you just want to write all the time and you’re just so excited about everything you’re doing. It feels like that again and it’s hard to recreate because a lot of times it feels like a job like you’re building something really huge.
Greer describes his process, and the joys of a writer's colony
Are we genetically inclined for superstition or just fearful of the truth?
- From secret societies to faked moon landings, one thing that humanity seems to have an endless supply of is conspiracy theories. In this compilation, physicist Michio Kaku, science communicator Bill Nye, psychologist Sarah Rose Cavanagh, skeptic Michael Shermer, and actor and playwright John Cameron Mitchell consider the nature of truth and why some groups believe the things they do.
- "I think there's a gene for superstition, a gene for hearsay, a gene for magic, a gene for magical thinking," argues Kaku. The theoretical physicist says that science goes against "natural thinking," and that the superstition gene persists because, one out of ten times, it actually worked and saved us.
- Other theories shared include the idea of cognitive dissonance, the dangerous power of fear to inhibit critical thinking, and Hollywood's romanticization of conspiracies. Because conspiracy theories are so diverse and multifaceted, combating them has not been an easy task for science.
A growing body of research suggests COVID-19 can cause serious neurological problems.
- The new study seeks to track the health of 50,000 people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
- The study aims to explore whether the disease causes cognitive impairment and other conditions.
- Recent research suggests that COVID-19 can, directly or indirectly, cause brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage and other neurological problems.
Brain images of a patient with acute demyelinating encephalomyelitis.
COVID-19 and the brain<p>A growing body of research reveals alarming neurological complications among COVID-19 patients. On Wednesday, for example, researchers from University College London published a <a href="https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/doi/10.1093/brain/awaa240/5868408" target="_blank">study</a> in the journal Brain that describes how some patients have suffered temporary brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage, and other neurological problems concurrent with COVID-19.</p><p>Some patients suffered brain inflammation as a result of a rare disease called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, which can cause numbness, seizures, and confusion. One patient in the study even hallucinated monkeys and lions in her home.</p>
Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images<p>A separate study published in the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7198407/" target="_blank">Journal of Clinical Neuroscience</a> notes that some COVID-19 patients have also suffered neurological complications like impaired consciousness and acute cerebrovascular disease. The study notes that past viruses like MERS and SARS also seemed to cause neurological problems.</p><p>A troubling finding among this growing body of research is that some patients seem to suffer neurological damage even when respiratory symptoms aren't obvious. Additionally, scientists aren't sure whether damage from the disease will be permanent.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Given that the disease has only been around for a matter of months, we might not yet know what long-term damage COVID-19 can cause," Dr. Ross Paterson, joint first author of the University College London study, said in a <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-07/ucl-iid070620.php" target="_blank">press release</a>. "Doctors needs to be aware of possible neurological effects, as early diagnosis can improve patient outcomes."</p><p>If you've been diagnosed with COVID-19 and want to enroll in the study, visit <a href="https://www.cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study" target="_blank">cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study</a>.</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>
Coronavirus layoffs are a glimpse into our automated future. We need to build better education opportunities now so Americans can find work in the economy of tomorrow.
- Outplacement is an underperforming $5 billion dollar industry. A new non-profit coalition by SkillUp intends to disrupt it.
- More and more Americans will be laid off in years to come due to automation. Those people need to reorient their career paths and reskill in a way that protects their long-term livelihood.
- SkillUp brings together technology and service providers, education and training providers, hiring employers, worker outreach, and philanthropies to help people land in-demand jobs in high-growth industries.
Source: McKinsey Global Institute analysis [PDF]<p>Work in understanding the skills at the heart of the new digital economy is leading to novel assessments that allow individuals to prove mastery to faithfully represent their abilities—but also to give weight and stackability to the emerging ecosystem of micro-credentials that make education more seamless across time and education providers. And we are seeing the beginnings of a renewal in the liberal arts, focused on building human skills in affordable ways that are accessible to many more individuals and far more effective.</p><p>Amidst these dark times, there is much opportunity to refresh the nation's education and training solutions to support the success of individuals and society writ large.</p>