All posts filed under: create

Writerly Advice from Best-Selling Author Scott Turow

You must treat your art as you would any other job: Show up everyday! This might be the number one golden writerly advice. We repeat it to ourselves; stamp it in capital letters above our desk. And no matter how many times and versions we hear the same advice, it is never enough. On Tuesday I attended a master class by the best-selling author and attorney Scott Turow at Israel’s Bar Ilan University. Turow mostly writes crime and mystery novels. His books have been translated to over 40 languages and sold more than 30 million copies. Also a successful, practicing lawyer, he writes about what he knows (golden advice two). His first publication was a non-fiction book as a first year Harvard Law student: One L: The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School. And yes, he wrote it while studying at Harvard Law and it became a best seller. In his lecture Turow touched on many topics from the writing life to the doom Amazon has brought on the publishing industry to the …

Ragnar Kjartansson’s Art Made Me Cry

Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota By James Wright Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly, Asleep on the black trunk, Blowing like a leaf in green shadow. Down the ravine behind the empty house, The cowbells follow one another Into the distances of the afternoon. To my right, In a field of sunlight between two pines, The droppings of last year’s horses Blaze up into golden stones. I lean back, as the evening darkens and comes on. A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home. I have wasted my life. What do grown-ups do all day? I often thought about this question as a child. Adults’ homebound tasks like sorting out the mail or talking on the phone to strangers seemed so unimportant and boring. Then there was their mysterious life outside the house: magical, thrilling, and filled with adventurous trips. It rarely occurred to me that most adults work to sustain their lives. The way grown-ups spend their waking hours might not be the first thought to pop …

Georgia O’Keeffe at Tate Modern

The most scenic route to the Tate Modern is over the London Millennium Footbridge. The narrow bridge curves like a spine and wobbles over the Thames River. Leaving St. Paul’s Cathedral’s classical baroque dome behind, you walk towards the industrial block that is one of the largest modern art museums in the world. On the other side of the river, a declaration in large, block letters peers from the outer wall of the Tate and draws you into the museum: “ART CHANGES WE CHANGE.” I wondered about this announcement as I walked closer to the brown building that used to be a power station before its conversion into a museum. I was on my way to see the Georgia O’Keefe (1887 – 1986) retrospective. Did it mean to say that as art changes, it changes us? Or do we change independently? Would we not change if it wasn’t for art? Was this a statement about the power of art? Of change? Of cause-and-effect? Of the inevitability of time’s imprint? I thought, maybe the witty phrase wasn’t plastered on …

How to Possess Your Travels

Most people can’t help buy souvenirs and take photographs while on vacation. These two activities provide the simplest way remember the journey taken and take a piece of it home. Yet do they really enhance our experience? In an earlier post, I wrote how the impulse to document our lives with photos increases when we travel to beautiful places. The connection between buying souvenirs and taking photographs became clear to me as I sailed to the Manchones Reef on a small dive boat in Isla Mujeres, Mexico off the coast of Cancun. Not long ago, it was a tiny fisherman’s island. As Cancun turned into the decaying resort-town it is today, the island’s sand streets also gave way to paved roads and shabby hotels. Nevertheless, Isla Mujeres still remains a haven of calm in comparison to the degenerated concrete that is Cancun. So I jumped on the ferry and sailed straight to the island as soon as my flight landed. The plan was to get over my jetlag while relaxing on the beach. The only thing I wanted to “do” while over …

On the Obsession of Travel Photography

A few weeks ago, I ate dinner with Barbara—a woman also staying at Hostel La Candelaria in Valladolid in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. Valladolid is frequented by travelers and backpackers alike for its proximity to Chichen Itza, Ek Balam, and breathtaking cenotes–natural sinkholes–scattered about the Yucatan state. Barbara showed me Google photos of Rio Lagartos, a coastal town north of Valladolid where pink flamingos roam free. Even though she failed to recruit any other hostel dwellers to join her day-trip, she was determined to take the two-hour bus ride to the lagoon and photograph the flamingos. “I will go there and take photos of pink flamingos. And they’d better be there or else I will Photoshop them into the picture!” she said. I couldn’t be sure whether her priority was to actually see the flamingos or possess first-hand photos of them. I had previously written about the transformative effects of being filmed on the experience of diving. Barbara’s excitement to possess images of pink flamingos prompted a renewed contemplation over a subject that has long agitated me. As …

Meksiko, Francis Alÿs, ve Kardeşlik

Meksiko’daki Rufino Tamayo müzesinde sergilenen sanatçı Francis Alÿs’in “Relato de Una Negociación” adlı sergisinin beni bu kadar etkileyebileceğini hiç düşünemezdim. Aslında herkesin övgüyle söz ettiği Antropoloji müzesine gitme gayesiyle çıkmıştım dışarı. Antropoloji müzesi Pazar günleri halka açık olduğundan oldukça kalabalıktı.   Bilet gişesinin önündeki bir sanatsal protesto gözüme ilişti.  Sonradan tarih hocası olduğunu öğrendiğim Angelica, elime bir broşür iliştirirken, hükümetin ayrımcı öğretmen atama politikasını protesto eden 43 öğrencinin neredeyse bir yıldır “kayıp” olduğunu anlattı. Göstericiler, devletten bu kişilerin ölü ya da diri nerede olduğunu açıklamaları için hesap sormaktaydılar. “Bu müze benim de dahil olduğum INAH araştırma kurulumuna ait olduğu için burada protesto yapmamıza hala izin veriyorlar ama kimbilir yakında buna da karışırlar,” dedi. “Kilise varlıklı kesimle bir oldu, laik eğitim sistemimizi özelleştirmeye çalışıyor. Okullarda çocuklar yine rahiplerin eline kalacak, zaten sağlık sistemini de özelleştirdiler…” Yarım saat sohbet ettik. Türkiye’yi sordu. Yeni seçimlerden çıktığımızı, geleceğin belirsiz olduğunu söyledim. Tesadüf bu ya, aynı gün, 7 Haziran günü Meksika’da da yerel seçimler olmuştu. Ama ülkenin yarısı bile oy vermeye gitmemişti. Canım hiç antropoloji müzesi gezmek istemiyordu, rota değiştirip yolda …

A Smartphone Addiction Saga

Do you ever feel like you are less focused than you once used to be? Is your attention span shrinking? What do you do in those seemingly “dead” minutes while waiting for the bus or a friend to show up before a date? How do you spend those 15 minutes between awaking and actually getting out bed, those moments spent standing by the stove waiting for the soup to heat? My hand automatically reaches to my iPhone and wherever Facebook ushers me. There comes a sudden curiosity to Google “cooking with fresh turmeric” when I don’t even have turmeric—or hold that thought! Let me look up how to spell infinitesimal, because why not do that right now, in the middle of the street, as wait for a green light? Lately I notice that my concentration scattered. I check my email in the middle of writing an essay, answer Facebook messages half way into a book, and before I know it, I am reading about the latest adventures of ISIS or watching a TED video on …

The Impostor Blogger: On Self-Doubt and the Fraud Police

Before I quit my job and became an unemployed writer of unpublished texts, I used to work as associate editor to the Journal of Levantine Studies. As one of the founding members of the journal and having dedicated five years for its ongoing excellence, separating from my baby wasn’t as easy as slapping a resignation letter onto my boss’ desk. I mean that metaphorically; my ode of separation was sent via email. Since then, I continued to help the new team, answering questions on dealing with annoying authors or dilemmas regarding capitalization rules in Arabic transliterations. All simple and straightforward. The most recent question the editor-in-chief asked, however, caught me off guard. She explained that they were preparing to launch a new blog for the journal’s website and needed input. “As a blogger yourself, what do you think Nathalie?” she wrote in an email. Me? Blogger? Whaaat? If anything, I am the imitation blogger. A woman who writes stuff online without a clue. A blogger-impostor in disguise. “I don’t know anything about blogging!” I said to the screen. Thankfully no human lives behind …

When the Muses Block your Creativity

A few weeks ago, a Muse hit me on the head—not with a magical wand but with a book. It was on one of Tel Aviv’s few gloomy days. A grey wind blew outside my window, making the thought of any venture outside even more depressing than staying in. A writer’s block had occupied all corners of my keyboard. I must get out of the house, I told myself and hopped on my bike. I rode through Allenby, dodging low clouds and loud busses to arrive at Halper’s Books – one of Tel Aviv’s hidden gems for used books in English. I didn’t have a book in mind. One should approach used bookstores like an antiques store; you never know what you will find. At this point you are probably expecting me to reveal that I discovered a special edition of The Wasteland or Anne Karenina, soiled by coffee stains and breadcrumbs left from their previous owners. No. I bought almost-new copies of The Road (saw the movie but never read the book) and Alain …

“Fever to the Form”: Can Art help make sense of life?

I frequently find myself mulling over a song for hours and days, playing it on repeat until I can no longer hear it anymore. In most cases, the compulsion ends within a day or two and I can go back to my life again. But other times, madness takes over.Not too long ago, my obsession with Marcia’s song “A PELE QUE HÁ EM MIM” made me translate the entire song from Portuguese. (No, I don’t speak Portuguese). The song in question today happens to be in English so I didn’t embark on adventures in translation of languages unknown to me. Instead, Nick Mulvey’s “Fever to the Form” made me think about too many questions I could handle in 3 minutes 44 seconds. The obvious one was: What does “Fever to the Form” even mean? But let’s leave that aside for a moment and go back to Mexico. How art can help make sense of life One of my fondest memories of San Miguel de Allende, the Mexican town of artists, is from an Italian potluck dinner around …