Yuvi Zalkow is the author of A Brilliant Novel in the Works, the Failed Writer video series, and the host of Neurotic Tornado, a podcast series where Yuvi talks about “married life, emotional issues, creativity, writing, or whatever is worrying me that day.” These are his good things.
Good things to read.
The Razor’s Edge by Somerset Maugham. I love this novel. I love this storyteller. I don’t hear people talk about Maugham so much lately. Then again, I don’t get out so much lately. The book starts like this: “I have never begun a novel with more misgiving.” How could you not love him after that?
The Night, and the Rain, and the River. Full disclosure: I should tell you that I know the publisher and I know the editor and I know a few of the writers. But it is a hell of a good book with some wonderful stories in it. And I think that Laura Stanfill at Forest Avenue Press is an amazing bad ass with an amazing mission. Oh. While we’re disclosing things here — I should also tell you that I submitted a story to this collection that was ill-suited for this collection. And I got rejected. Did it bother me? Hell yes. (Though I won’t admit it to anyone. Not even you.) It is a lovely book. Buy it. Read it.
The last thing you wrote. Or I just mean that if you do any kind of writing, it is good to read it like a reader. I have a boatload of tricks I use to get into this headspace — read it aloud, get someone else to read it, get the computer to read it, read it to a mirror, read it naked, change the font. Anything. And I should clarify that when I say “the last thing you wrote”, I don’t actually mean I want to read the last thing YOU wrote. I’m sorry to admit it, you probably are a very good writer, but I’m just too worn out these days to read any more than what I’m already reading. Sorry. It’s not you, it’s me.
Good things to watch.
Ira Glass on Storytelling. Every year, I rewatch this set of four short videos from Ira Glass about storytelling. The others are easy to find from there. So much wisdom about storytelling from him. I’m always a sucker for someone using themselves as part of the story of what not to do.
The Wire. Wow, I love that series. It really is worth the hype and all the arrogant chatter from arrogant people about its greatness. I actually didn’t want to like it because I was so tired of people telling me how it was the best show ever. And it took me a few episodes to get into it, I couldn’t keep up with all the characters and all the story lines. And then, when my guard was down, a few episodes into it, I became one of those arrogant assholes chattering about its greatness. I miss Omar Little.
Anything with your partner/spouse/lover/bff/buddy/neighbor/nemesis. My wife and I are in a particularly busy phase right now. Both working more than full time. Two kids. Multiple side projects. We are wiped out at the end of the day. But we try to spend at least one night a week watching a TV show together (usually via Netflix). Some phases we go highbrow (The Wire), some phases we go less highbrow (Buffy), but it is so nice to watch a show (and maybe analyze it a little) with someone you like.
Good things to use.
Public transit. I fucking love public transit. It works nicely in Portland. The light rail is good for writing. Lately, though, my commute involves a bus, and I get carsick (bus-sick) if I write, or even if I read. So I listen to audiobooks (last one was The Golem and the Jinni, thanks to @macdrifter). I sometimes listen to podcasts too. Sometimes I even listen to my OWN podcast as I’m editing the thing, which is very narcissistic to admit, but I need to edit my arguments with my wife so that they are more digestible to our small and lovely audience.
Gin. I sure do like a gin martini. I love a gin martini. But when I’ve got Hendrick’s Gin, I like it so much that I don’t want to clutter the flavor with the vermouth or the olive, so I drink it straight. Though I try to only drink one or two shots’ worth of it, because I’ll get even dumber-sounding on my podcast after two drinks. And I can’t afford being dumber than usual.
Swim goggles. Not on land. That would be weird. But in a pool. I’ve just taken to swimming. Partly this is because my wife is making me exercise because I’m a miserable asshole when I work all day at my day job and all night at my writing. Sometimes, I’m an asshole even after exercising. But I love swimming in particular because it forces me to disconnect — from people, yes, but especially nice to disconnect from technology. (Please don’t send me info about waterproofing my iPhone — I don’t want to hear it.) It is quiet in there in the water. I can slow down my crazed thinking process. I can step back from the world in motion, though I realize that metaphor breaks down in a lot of ways, like how I’m more in motion in the pool than at my keyboard, or how swimming doesn’t really involve a ‘step’ back. I was never very good with metaphors or similes. They often break on me. Like a snow leopard in heat.
Connect with Yuvi on Twitter, @YuviZalkow.