While Issue 35: Better/Worse is still available for your reading pleasure (more issues will be re-distrubted to select locations in the coming weeks, BTW) we are hard at work on the next edition.
Expect announcements soon regarding an interactive element of Issue 36, and what questions it will raise for you in the process. I don’t want to give too much away, but I trust that soon enough you will understand why.
To tease, I can offer you this train of thought: Progress, freedom, opportunity—all that we ultimately crave in ourselves and for our cities—comes only once you unlock yourself.
The rest will remain our little secret.
-Ben
Image courtesy Wallcanvas.

While Issue 35: Better/Worse is still available for your reading pleasure (more issues will be re-distrubted to select locations in the coming weeks, BTW) we are hard at work on the next edition.

Expect announcements soon regarding an interactive element of Issue 36, and what questions it will raise for you in the process. I don’t want to give too much away, but I trust that soon enough you will understand why.

To tease, I can offer you this train of thought: Progress, freedom, opportunity—all that we ultimately crave in ourselves and for our cities—comes only once you unlock yourself.

The rest will remain our little secret.

-Ben

Image courtesy Wallcanvas.

Save the date!
Block Club and City Dining Cards, proud sponsors of this year’s Buffalo Small Press Book Fair, will be on hand for both days of this year’s event. If you haven’t been, you must check out their website and get a taste for something completely amazing.
Basically, if you like to read, to write, to hold and touch deliciously designed paper goods, if you like to call your collection a “library,” if you like to call your doodles “illustrations,” if you like to be around infinitely creative individuals who put their minds to work and made something original JUST FOR YOU, then you must come on down. I can’t say enough about it, clearly. :-)
See you there!
-Ben

Save the date!

Block Club and City Dining Cards, proud sponsors of this year’s Buffalo Small Press Book Fair, will be on hand for both days of this year’s event. If you haven’t been, you must check out their website and get a taste for something completely amazing.

Basically, if you like to read, to write, to hold and touch deliciously designed paper goods, if you like to call your collection a “library,” if you like to call your doodles “illustrations,” if you like to be around infinitely creative individuals who put their minds to work and made something original JUST FOR YOU, then you must come on down. I can’t say enough about it, clearly. :-)

See you there!

-Ben

I read a great interview this morning with John Krokidis, a young filmmaker who just made his first feature-length film, about the things he learned the first time around.
“Kill Your Darlings,” about poets Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs, comes out this month, and among many other plot points, considers the beats’ principle of destroying their best, or latest, work for new work.
This sacrifice at the alter bleeds into other fateful events in their lives, into all artists’ lives, asking the question: in what gut-wrenching ways is editing so inescapably necessary and unfair?
Knowing that you must get rid of what you love is the saddest thing about creating it, and yet we go on about our business knowing this is the inevitable—indeed, it is the truest—part of it. For Krokidis, though, it’s a lesson in saying goodbye not only to words, but people:

"At the end of the production, you throw the wrap party, and when you look at this crazy family you’ve created over the past few months, you almost feel like you should all go and get tribal tattoos together. You’re so close that you’re basically a gang — and as the director, you’re the leader of the gang! You’re all in it together, and you’ve bonded so much, and nothing can tear you apart … and then the next day, you wake up and everyone else is gone."

This is the nature of the beast. Shedding what doesn’t work only reveals what does, and this is a gift. Ultimately, when you’re back at the drawing board, or slicing things up at the cutting board, or just sitting there being bored, remembering this fuels the fire to make more work, knowing full well that some of it will be better, and some of it will be lost. Some beast.
-Ben
Image courtesy Sundance.

I read a great interview this morning with John Krokidis, a young filmmaker who just made his first feature-length film, about the things he learned the first time around.

Kill Your Darlings,” about poets Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs, comes out this month, and among many other plot points, considers the beats’ principle of destroying their best, or latest, work for new work.

This sacrifice at the alter bleeds into other fateful events in their lives, into all artists’ lives, asking the question: in what gut-wrenching ways is editing so inescapably necessary and unfair?

Knowing that you must get rid of what you love is the saddest thing about creating it, and yet we go on about our business knowing this is the inevitable—indeed, it is the truest—part of it. For Krokidis, though, it’s a lesson in saying goodbye not only to words, but people:

"At the end of the production, you throw the wrap party, and when you look at this crazy family you’ve created over the past few months, you almost feel like you should all go and get tribal tattoos together. You’re so close that you’re basically a gang — and as the director, you’re the leader of the gang! You’re all in it together, and you’ve bonded so much, and nothing can tear you apart … and then the next day, you wake up and everyone else is gone."

This is the nature of the beast. Shedding what doesn’t work only reveals what does, and this is a gift. Ultimately, when you’re back at the drawing board, or slicing things up at the cutting board, or just sitting there being bored, remembering this fuels the fire to make more work, knowing full well that some of it will be better, and some of it will be lost. Some beast.

-Ben

Image courtesy Sundance.

Mr. Leonard’s Rules

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Writer Elmore Leonard died this morning, and while I’m not a Leonardite (Elmorean?), I certainly appreciate the wealth of goods he provided the literary world. His genre was crime and mystery, but wrote a great deal more than that.

So I’m not a fan, or I’m not not a fan, but I’m not specifically, particular a fan, or audience, of his work, but I read carefully today the many posts and obituaries about the man. We had enough in common—he was a writer; I am a writer. He found solutions; I strive for them. He had taste; mine is coming into season.

It was a piece of Elmore’s journalistic endeavors that caught my widest eye, which makes enough sense. His 2001 essay in The New York Times is of particular interest, a list of 10 rules for good writing. Each is specific, dug up from likely a litany of troublesome trials at the typewriter. They might make a more logical impression on me if I knew to what sources these rules referenced, but they are nonetheless important to me. But then again, I can always pick up a new favorite author, can’t I?

Here are those rules. Take them, leave them, scorn them, but respect that a learned man wrote them:

Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Good Writing

  1.  Never open a book with weather.
  2.  Avoid prologues.
  3.  Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.
  4.  Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said” … he admonished gravely.
  5.  Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose. 
  6.  Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”
  7.  Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
  8.  Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
  9.  Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.
  10.  Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

-Ben

photo: Daniel Borris/The New York Times

A journalist learns to fib

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So I’ve never been much of a fiction writer. I have trouble committing to a world in which I’d see my characters and situations exist; too many options to narrow down. I’m more stimulated by nonfiction, where I trust  the parameters of truth and reality, and can use that to interpret it in a rich narrative.

(Fiction feels a little like a kid-tested, mom-approved lie, which is both enticing and scary to this journalist. Another reason to give it a whirl.) 

But I’ve dug in, alas, thanks to changes to the magazine! And I’m so happy I did.

When we added a fiction section to Block Club last year, we did so because we wanted to expand on the way we interpret our issues’ themes. If we were going for something a little more abstract, a little less expected, why not delve into fictional territory? Surely there would be new textures and landscapes in the land of the infinite, right?

I’d never edited short fiction, and while nervous at the prospect of taking on a new medium—especially where seasoned, professional creative writers were concerned—I quickly realized how accessible it is to my frame of mind, someone who’s always preferred the challenge of making nonfiction sound compelling, captivating, story-like.

I started a blog (my 938,103rd, approximately), and I dump it all there. It’s kept me on my toes creatively, reminding me that I can and should find other ways to use my writing skills. It’s helped me heal, express, shout, scream, laugh and connect. My hindsight-resolution for this year: Find a new medium and take it on, head-first.

Next week, some friends and I will host our first creative writing club meeting. Still working on a name, though I’m hoping Who’s Bringing Cookies sticks. All we intend to do is share our writing and talk about it. I mean, that’s just the best.

I’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, go write yourself a poem.

-Ben