Tag Archives: writing

Shokunin – dedicate your life to mastering your skill

You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret to success…and is the key to being regarded honorably. – Jiro Dreams of Sushi

 

Last night we watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi on Netflix Instant, and we both fell in love with Jiro. For his amazing work and his intense focus on being a Shokunin (show-koo-nin).

I wouldn’t say he is eccentric. He just works relentlessly every day. That’s how Shokunin are. The way of the Shokunin is to repeat the same thing every day. They just want to work. They aren’t trying to be special.

And in the words of Jiro, once you choose your occupation you must immerse yourself in it and fall in love. Which I think is important. This is not for any job you happen to fall into, it is a chosen profession. And if you are lucky enough to get that choice then dive in and become a Shokunin.

That’s what I want to do. I dream of working that hard, every day, and never stopping. No retirement, no vacations, just a simple dedication to something I love. For years I have built up the discipline and focus needed to be so resolute.

And I’m at the point in my life where I get to make that choice. I have taken a year off work to find my occupation. The whole time living off savings and dedicating myself to writing. Every day I wake up and write, take a break, and write some more. And I’m proud to say in the last year I’ve never taken a weekend or holiday. I’ve gone on vacations and written during them.

I’m proud of that dedication, but I know I’m no Shokunin. To meet that standard I will have to persevere for another 9 years.

 

Shokunin. (source: hayashida)

 

The Japanese word shokunin is defined by both Japanese and Japanese-English dictionaries as ‘craftsman’ or ‘artisan,’ but such a literal description does not fully express the deeper meaning.  The Japanese apprentice is taught that shokunin means not only having technical skills, but also implies an attitude and social consciousness. … The shokunin has a social obligation to work his/her best for the general welfare of the people.  This obligation is both spiritual and material, in that no matter what it is, the shokunin’s responsibility is to fulfill the requirement.” – Tasio Odate

Getting used to Fall

A beautiful piece on the new season by Gina Dostler - Autumn Alignment:

I feel the coolness gently touch my face as it drifts through the window screen, and I know summer is coming to its end.

And though Indian summer hides in wait for its call to jump out and play its games with hot days and cool nights, my watermelon patch is privy to the cycle and has stopped flowering, concentrating the last bit of growth on the remaining fruit.

The autumnal equinox – Sept. 22 this year – indicates when fall begins, a time when day and night hang in balance, a side-by-side alignment of our world and the sun before our section of the hemisphere starts tipping away for longer nights and shorter, cooler days.

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My Manifesto – the Zeitgeist of sustainability

This will be the fifth manifesto I’ve written. And every one of them has had a noble goal and ambitious hopes. I like to shoot for the stars and see where I end up.

My goal is to be the Zeitgeist of sustainability.

Zeitgeist - “the spirit of the times” or “the spirit of the age.”

- the defining spirit of a particular period as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time.

I want to create a spirit of sustainability that spreads across this country. An idea that people can believe in and feel proud of. And this goes beyond Republican or Democratic differences. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Texan in a drought or a New Englander in a Prius. We can all agree on sustainability.

But we don’t agree and that’s the problem. There are too many messages out there and each one points in a different direction. Leaving us in a state of confusion, unsure of what to do but wanting to do something.

And I know this is true. I talk to many people and all of them want to do something. They agree with the principles of sustainability, but none of them agree on global warming, climate change, organic, energy, etc.

And they don’t need to. It’s all for the same cause. We just need to keep the focus on sustainability. That is where the Zeitgeist comes into play. A German word that is almost mystical in how it happens – millions of people coming together because they feel the same way about something. It doesn’t happen often, especially without war, but it is happening here.

We just need someone to write about it. To say what everyone is thinking and make it so well known that it becomes the new way to do things.

That is my job and I have spent years studying and learning about sustainability. I’ve been to the White House for discussions and into people’s garbage. Surprisingly, the whole thing breaks down into four topics:

  • Overcoming obesity
  • Living zero waste
  • Strong local economies
  • Clean air

The first one, obesity, is the most important of them all. It is impossible to be healthy and pollute the planet. And that’s the message I want to convey. This isn’t about sacrifice and loss, nor hard choices and spending money. All that is noise pollution and marketing.

The truth is that when you improve your life, you improve the planet. And this blog will teach you how to do so. With all the relevant facts and personal stories – plus the bigger picture to let you know you are affecting the world.

And all you have to do is make your life better.

Help curb excessive exclamations – resist the urge to use an exclamation point

There is only one exclamation point in Ernest Hemingway’s - The Old Man and the Sea - published in 1951.

There were eight exclamation points in Anthony Burgess’ – A Clockwork Orange - published in 1962.

But four novels published in the 21st century each have 250 or more exclamation points, with one using 439. And this highlights the growing trend to use, or overuse, the punctuation mark in writing.

Jeff Umbro, from Quartz, searched “more than 1 million books published between 1970 and 2008, and found that the frequency of exclamation marks has soared.”

He asks that we clamp down on this, and I agree. Resist the urge to exclaim and instead write with style.

Take the advice of William Zinsser from his classic, On Writing Well:

Don’t use it unless you must to achieve a certain effect. It has a gushy aura – the breathless excitement of a debutante commenting on an event that was exciting only to her…construct your sentences so that the order of the words will put the emphasis where you want it. Also resist using it to notify the reader that you are making a joke or being ironic. Readers are annoyed by your reminder that this was a comical moment. They are also robbed of the pleasure of making the discovery themselves. Humor is best achieved by understatement, and there’s nothing subtle about an exclamation point.

 

Follow the classics. (source: Alexandre Dulaunoy)

For the first time, Korean Buddhism available to Western world

Never before has the buddhism of Korea been available to the West, until now. Scholars across America have united to translate a 13-volume anthology covering 1,700 years – and the entire guide is available online, free with a creative commons license.

View all thirteen volumes here (scroll to bottom).

More about this work, from the Preface:

Buddhism has a 1,700 year history in Korea and the tradition continues to thrive still today on the peninsula. The thirteen volumes of this anthology collect the panoply of Korean Buddhist writing from the Three Kingdoms period (ca. 57 C.E.-668) through the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910). These writings include commentaries on scriptures as well as philosophical and disciplinary texts by the most influential scholiasts of the tradition.

 

Read the press release - UCLA scholars bring Korean Buddhist works to English-speaking world

 

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Beethoven drank buckets of black coffee – Creativity advice from 90 artists

It’s nice to have creative friends, especially when you hit a creative block. You can call them up and ask them for advice. That’s exactly what Alex Cornell did and he turned it into BreakThrough! 90 Ways to Spark Your Imagination.

Each one is a personal thought from an artist, writer, or musician – like the one below from Alexi Murdoch. Browse the book on Amazon or visit Brain Pickings for more quotes.

From Alexi Murdoch:

Beethoven drank buckets of strong, black coffee. Beethoven was creatively prodigious. (He also went deaf and, perhaps, mad.) Sound syllogism here? I’d like to think so.

The idea that creativity is some abundantly available resource waiting simply for the right application of ingenuity to extract, refine, and pipe it into the grid seems so axiomatic at this cultural juncture that the very distinction between creativity and productivity has been effectively erased.

And so it is that, when faced with a decreased flow in productivity, we ask not what it might be that’s interfering with our creative process, but rather what device might be quickly employed to raise production levels. This is standard, myopic, symptomatology-over-pathology response, typical of a pressurized environment of dislocated self-entitlement.

At the risk of going off brief here, can I just ask: What’s wrong with creative block? Might it not just be that periods — even extended ones — of productive hiatus are essential mechanisms of gestation designed to help us attain higher standards in our pursuit of creative excellence?

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Tumblr blog – celebrities reading poetry

It’s that subject no one wants to study in English class. It’s that aisle in the bookstore that’s always empty. It’s that stuff that star-crossed lovers spout at each other through open windows.

Explains the author of this Tumblr, called SpeakCelebrity. Offering that poetry isn’t scary, “it’s exciting, and comforting, and new, and old, and it can be clear-cut or all jumbled up, but most of all, it’s human.”

I couldn’t agree more and it’s a delight to browse through the celebrities:

  • Al Pacino reading – “Sonnet 150″ by William Shakespeare
  • Meryl Streep – “In Vain” by Emily Dickinson
  • Morgan Freeman – “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley
  • Ralph Fiennes – “Ode to the Sea” by Pablo Neruda
  • Benedict Cumberbatch – “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll
  • Johnny Depp – “The Girl of the Ghetto” by Jim Morrison

My favorite so far is Benedict Cumberbatch – Sherlock Holmes in the BBC series – and Johnny Depp. Both invite you into the poem and let you forget the world around you.

Dig-in and enjoy - SpeakCelebrity.

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Have you seen Sneakers? – The classic spy thriller starring Robert Redford

I can’t imagine a better way to introduce the movie, Sneakers:

It’s hard for me to choose a favorite Sneakers character—there so many great ones. Even the movie’s secondary players are rendered in just enough detail to give them dimension: I love the pretentiousness of Janek, the mathematician who builds the decryption device; the unctuousness (want a cappuccino?) of Dick Gordon, the mustachioed Cosmo crony; and the boorishness of Dr. Werner Brandes, played to the hilt by the always excellent Stephen Tobolowsky.

But even that does not go far enough. Robert Redford plays his role superbly, rivaling and surpassing George Clooney in Oceans Eleven. Then there is the blind man who solves puzzles, River Phoenix as the shy computer genius, Sidney Poitier as a former-CIA agent, and who can forget Dan Aykroyd’s conspiracy theories?

If this interests you a little, if you like Oceans Eleven and caper films, or delight in well written, directed, and acted films then I demand you go see this movie . You won’t be disappointed. If you are, come back and yell at me, I’m that confident of success.

Sneakers is a true delight and you will be an admirer within the first quietly suspenseful minutes.

And if you’re obsession goes a bit deeper, here is Slate’s compulsive coverage of the movie’s 20th anniversary:

And, listen them discuss it in the Gabfest (the 2nd topic).

Why we write — What is 1X57 about?

1X57 is a daily publication about sustainability, and all the related topics. The primary subjects are zero waste, farmers markets, and clean energy. Beyond that is an array of fun topics like: do-it-yourself (DIY), crafts, sports, art, and creativity.

We talk about all of them and, of course: reduce, reuse, recycle.

5-6 pieces a day are published. A few are opinion pieces written from an expert point-of-view following research, experiments, and field tests. Comments, criticisms, and queries for help are welcome.

The remaining content is blend of support pieces and fun stories. The support pieces are studies, other experts and their opinions, and facts that support each opinion piece. They are designed to give you a broader perspective while also bringing together the best knowledge available.

The fun stories shake things up and are thrown in purely because they are interesting. Anything from short shorts to amazing surf artwork. It’s a little of the playful with the serious.

These are the topics we are passionate about, and would normally be gabbing to our friends about. This publication is the perfect way to share our obsession and invite you to become our friend. Enjoy!

 

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WordPress upgrades to ‘intelligent proofreading’ for spelling, grammar, and style suggestions

I have to say this is pretty amazing. The WordPress blogging platform now offers artificial intelligence for proofreading, and we’re not talking any old spell checker.

Here is what this “intelligent proofreading” covers:

  • Bias language
  • Clichés
  • Complex phrases
  • Diacritical marks
  • Double negatives
  • Hidden verbs
  • Jargon phrases
  • Passive voice
  • Phrases to avoid
  • Redundant phrases

 

I bet this already exist in MS Word or Apple Pages, but I’ve never seen this on the web. It is taking my editing to a whole new level…in color:

The proofreading feature checks spelling, misused words, grammar, and style. You can tell the type of error by its color.

  • Misused words and spelling errors are red
  • Grammar mistakes are green
  • Style suggestions are blue

 

For anyone who self-publishes on the web this is “just what the doctor ordered.” There is only so many times you can proofread your own content.

A little research shows that this feature is available using the JetPack plugin and comes from the technology After the Deadline which was purchased by WordPress.

 

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