Showing posts tagged writers

Getting away from it all

August is here and that means many of us escape to the sea or the country. For some this means a couple of weeks of relaxation and a way to restore the mind.

Others never want to live in a city, so for them being away from crowds is their chosen way of life. Here’s what best-selling author John le Carre has to say on the subject:

I hate the telephone. I can’t type. I ply my trade by hand. I live on a Cornish cliff and hate cities. Three days and nights in a city are about my maximum. I don’t see many people. I write and walk and swim and drink.”

and then, here’s another comment of his that we’d all do well to heed:

A good writer is an expert on nothing except himself. And on that subject, if he is wise, he holds his tongue.”

Behind the books
This is one of nine cookbooks I’ve written. Recipes alone are not what new cooks want. They need encouragement and humour, so this book contained stories and unexpected advice. Chapters included Disasters, The Art of Shopping, Is it worth the trouble? and my favourite, The Misunderstood Microwave.

I am still convinced that most people don’t know how to use a microwave oven. Check out the post coming up, to see something inventive and surprising: how to bake apples in the microwave instead of the one hour method in the oven.

A Feast in Fifteen Stories is no longer in print, but the good news is that you can pick up a used copy for 1p on Amazon UK (click here to find one http://amzn.to/1doHfwu).

If you want to find out more about me, and the other books I’ve written, please click on the picture and it will take you to my author page.

Coming up soon…… something exciting…….not about food.

Behind the books

This is one of nine cookbooks I’ve written. Recipes alone are not what new cooks want. They need encouragement and humour, so this book contained stories and unexpected advice. Chapters included Disasters, The Art of Shopping, Is it worth the trouble? and my favourite, The Misunderstood Microwave.

I am still convinced that most people don’t know how to use a microwave oven. Check out the post coming up, to see something inventive and surprising: how to bake apples in the microwave instead of the one hour method in the oven.

A Feast in Fifteen Stories is no longer in print, but the good news is that you can pick up a used copy for 1p on Amazon UK (click here to find one http://amzn.to/1doHfwu).

If you want to find out more about me, and the other books I’ve written, please click on the picture and it will take you to my author page.

Coming up soon…… something exciting…….not about food.



Nothing in this world is perfect

The cake in the picture is a sponge cake filled with whipped cream and topped with chocolate and little meringues. You’ve probably noticed that the one at the back on the left is broken. If I’d been taking this photo outside with a tripod, I’d have gone to find another one to replace the crushed one. But this was at a birthday tea for Son No. 2 and they couldn’t all wait to get stuck in.

Here are some thoughts for Sunday. First a quote about broken things:

There are so many fragile things, after all. People break so easily, and so do dreams and hearts.”

————

Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: it’s always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.”

Both of these are by Neil Gaiman.

———-

A typical agent in New York gets 400 query letters a month. Of those, they might ask to read 3-4 manuscripts, and of those, they might ask to represent one”.

Nicholas Sparks (American writer and screenwriter with 17 published novels).

Coffee, cake and a good read

Anthony Trollope said:

'What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book and a cup of coffee?'

Here are a few more interesting thoughts for Sunday:

'If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend the first four hours sharpening the axe.'

Abraham Lincoln

* * *

'You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness.'

Jonathan Safran Foer in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (via booknarcs)

* * *

'The trick is not becoming a writer. The trick is staying a writer.'

Harlan Ellison, Strange Wine (via wordpainting)

* * *

As some of you may know, I am a cook and a writer. The photo shows a ring of Chelsea buns I made last week. They have cinnamon and raisins inside a not very sweet dough, then a bit of icing drizzled over the top.

The writer part is working hard too. My new novel is in its last stages before publication.

Two ways of looking at the world

For those who are new to The Armchair Kitchen, you may be surprised to see that on Sundays I put up something about books or writing - either a review, or, as today, some quotations.

It’s easy to find aphorisms and quotes on the internet (specially tumblr). But perhaps we need to dig a bit deeper. This is a thought from Robert Frost, an American poet who died in 1963, having won four Pulitzer prizes and received the Congressional Gold Medal.

In three words I can sum up everything I know about life: it goes on.”

I tried to imagine why Frost had such an accepting view of life and then…… I went to Wikipedia and learned that his personal life was plagued with grief and loss. His father died when he was eleven, and though he had a happy marriage, his wife died in 1938, following the deaths of no less than four out of their six children. Yet he still came up with insights like this:

Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can’t, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it.”

————-

Victor Hugo, poet and author of the novel Les Miserables, died long before Frost was born, in 1885. I imagine it would have been good for the two of them to meet. Here are two thoughts from the French poet.

Sorrow is a fruit. God does not make it grow on limbs too weak to bear it.”

—————

Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.”

(all these quotes come via wordpainting).



Sunday thoughts on books and writing
“There is no shortage of wonderful writers. What we lack is a dependable mass of readers.”
Kurt Vonnegut (via theparisreview)
Here is another thought from the same writer:


 “I believe that reading and writing are the most nourishing forms of meditation anyone has so far found. By reading the writings of the most interesting minds in history, we meditate with our own minds and theirs as well. This to me is a miracle.” 
—  (via wordpainting)



Kurt Vonnegut was an American author who died in 2007. He served in the American forces during the 2nd World War and his experiences formed the basis for some of his fiction.
The photograph of the bookshelf comes from Stephen Abram. Please click on the picture to see more.

Sunday thoughts on books and writing

There is no shortage of wonderful writers. What we lack is a dependable mass of readers.”

Kurt Vonnegut (via theparisreview)

Here is another thought from the same writer:

I believe that reading and writing are the most nourishing forms of meditation anyone has so far found. By reading the writings of the most interesting minds in history, we meditate with our own minds and theirs as well. This to me is a miracle.
—  (via wordpainting)

Kurt Vonnegut was an American author who died in 2007. He served in the American forces during the 2nd World War and his experiences formed the basis for some of his fiction.

The photograph of the bookshelf comes from Stephen Abram. Please click on the picture to see more.



Today’s thoughts on writing

“A man once asked me … how I managed in my books to write such natural conversation between men when they were by themselves. Was I, by any chance, a member of a large, mixed family with a lot of male friends? I replied that, on the contrary, I was an only child and had practically never seen or spoken to any men of my own age till I was about twenty-five. “Well,” said the man, “I shouldn’t have expected a woman (meaning me) to have been able to make it so convincing.” I replied that I had coped with this difficult problem by making my men talk, as far as possible, like ordinary human beings. This aspect of the matter seemed to surprise the other speaker; he said no more, but took it away to chew it over. One of these days it may quite likely occur to him that women, as well as men, when left to themselves, talk very much like human beings also.”

Dorothy L. Sayers; Are Women Human? (via wordpainting

Dorothy Leigh Sayers (1893 – 1957) was a renowned English crime writer. But she also wrote plays and was a student of classical and modern languages. Who would have thought that a popular fiction writer could have translated Dante’s Divine Comedy? And what a pleasure it is to hear someone speaking out for women - all those years ago.


Sunday - thoughts on writing

The great crime writer Elmore Leonard died this week at the age of 87. During his long career he wrote nearly 50 novels, many of which were turned into films. In 2001 he gave an interview in which he offered 10 rules for ways to improve your writing. They have been reproduced many times but the one I like best is the last of these:
“Try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip”.
 
Another famous author has this to say about the writer as a person:

“The writer can grow as a person or he can shrink. … His curiosity, his reaction to life must not diminish. The fatal thing is to shrink, to be interested in less, sympathetic to less, desiccating to the point where life itself loses its flavor, and one’s passion for human understanding changes to weariness and distaste.” ― Norman Mailer.

This quote was reblogged from wordpainting:
The beautiful coasters come from Anthropologie, reblogged from tobeshelved

Sunday - thoughts on writing

The great crime writer Elmore Leonard died this week at the age of 87. During his long career he wrote nearly 50 novels, many of which were turned into films. In 2001 he gave an interview in which he offered 10 rules for ways to improve your writing. They have been reproduced many times but the one I like best is the last of these:

Try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip”.

 

Another famous author has this to say about the writer as a person:

“The writer can grow as a person or he can shrink. … His curiosity, his reaction to life must not diminish. The fatal thing is to shrink, to be interested in less, sympathetic to less, desiccating to the point where life itself loses its flavor, and one’s passion for human understanding changes to weariness and distaste.” ― Norman Mailer.

This quote was reblogged from wordpainting:

The beautiful coasters come from Anthropologie, reblogged from tobeshelved

(Reblogged from tobeshelved)

Don’t just scroll down

Books and writers

Many of my lovely followers are interested in pictures - especially pictures of food. Once a week I digress from the world of cooking and eating and feature books and writers. If, till now, you have quickly scrolled past these posts, do give the next one a minute or so.

Capital (coming up next) is quite simply the best novel I have read in months. It is clever because it is easy to read but hidden in the seamless prose is a story of life; not just one life, but the lives of several people living in one street. How many of us know what our neighbours are worrying about? And if we did, do we really care?

John Lanchester takes us into many different worlds, shakes us out of our complacency and makes us think about the concerns of others.

When was the last time you gave a moment’s thought to the traffic warden, the builder or the owner of the corner shop? This book will change how you think. I forgot to tell you, it’s also a cracking thriller.

Brighten up your day

Here is some news from the food writing scene.

Waitrose supermarket (probably the best in the UK) puts out an excellent food magazine. They have just appointed a new columnist, Pippa Middleton. Those who don’t read about royalty might like to know that Pippa is most famous for her pert little bottom, perfectly displayed when she was a bridesmaid at the wedding of her sister Kate to Prince William.
I don’t remember hearing that she knows a lot about food or writing. There are many others who do. The Guild of Food Writers has hundreds of members with experience and talent, but one can understand why Waitrose made this choice. It’s about celebrity boosting magazine sales. Who can blame them? It’s just hard on the writers who are trying to make a living.
*   *   *   *   *
Yotam Ottolenghi is a hugely successful deli and restaurant owner. Added to that he has sold 750,000 cookbooks and it’s rare for a London dinner party not to feature one of his recipes. Nowadays he runs his empire and is no longer hands-on in the cooking side of the business. But does he cook at home? According to him, his partner Karl does most of the cooking. They eat quite a few takeaways (Indian and Chinese) and “there’s quite a bit of running to one of the Ottolenghi shops to get a box of salad. Normally the fridge is relatively empty: during the week it’s just wine, preserved lemons and a lot of wilting celery and carrots.”
I’m beginning to think the guy has done too many interviews and is taking the reader for a ride.
*   *   *   *   *
Michael Pollan, writer of the excellent, concise Food Rules and the disturbing Omnivore’s Dilemma  was in London this week, promoting his latest book Cooked.
In an interview he was asked about the huge success of TV cookery shows such as Masterchef and The Great British Bake Off. Here is what he said:
“The success of these shows points to a curious paradox: the less we cook ourselves, the more we watch others cook on television. There are now millions of us who spend more time watching other people cook on tv than we spend cooking ourselves. I believe most of these shows discourage us from cooking by making it look incredibly difficult and scary - the flashing knives, fountains of flames and the ticking clock make cooking look like work best left to professionals.”
*   *   *   *   *
 (The photo was taken in London where the architecture is always full of surprises.)

Brighten up your day

Here is some news from the food writing scene.

Waitrose supermarket (probably the best in the UK) puts out an excellent food magazine. They have just appointed a new columnist, Pippa Middleton. Those who don’t read about royalty might like to know that Pippa is most famous for her pert little bottom, perfectly displayed when she was a bridesmaid at the wedding of her sister Kate to Prince William.

I don’t remember hearing that she knows a lot about food or writing. There are many others who do. The Guild of Food Writers has hundreds of members with experience and talent, but one can understand why Waitrose made this choice. It’s about celebrity boosting magazine sales. Who can blame them? It’s just hard on the writers who are trying to make a living.

*   *   *   *   *

Yotam Ottolenghi is a hugely successful deli and restaurant owner. Added to that he has sold 750,000 cookbooks and it’s rare for a London dinner party not to feature one of his recipes. Nowadays he runs his empire and is no longer hands-on in the cooking side of the business. But does he cook at home? According to him, his partner Karl does most of the cooking. They eat quite a few takeaways (Indian and Chinese) and “there’s quite a bit of running to one of the Ottolenghi shops to get a box of salad. Normally the fridge is relatively empty: during the week it’s just wine, preserved lemons and a lot of wilting celery and carrots.”

I’m beginning to think the guy has done too many interviews and is taking the reader for a ride.


*   *   *   *   *

Michael Pollan, writer of the excellent, concise Food Rules and the disturbing Omnivore’s Dilemma was in London this week, promoting his latest book Cooked.

In an interview he was asked about the huge success of TV cookery shows such as Masterchef and The Great British Bake Off. Here is what he said:

The success of these shows points to a curious paradox: the less we cook ourselves, the more we watch others cook on television. There are now millions of us who spend more time watching other people cook on tv than we spend cooking ourselves. I believe most of these shows discourage us from cooking by making it look incredibly difficult and scary - the flashing knives, fountains of flames and the ticking clock make cooking look like work best left to professionals.”

*   *   *   *   *

(The photo was taken in London where the architecture is always full of surprises.)

Sunday thoughts

If you’re in a sunny place (literally or in your mind) you are lucky. But how much can we do to control our destiny, what we achieve? Here are two thoughts:

Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives - choice, not chance, determines your destiny.” Aristotle
and now, one that is less demanding:

It’s not about being the best. It’s about being better than you were yesterday.”

(both of these come via the finder of many good things wordpainting)



Appreciation

Why do we writers do it – why do we agonise over thoughts on a page, getting the words right? There’s surely one answer: to make an impact on someone else.

The French Canadian author Yann Martel won the Booker Prize for his novel The Life of Pi. The book tells the story of a boy who is shipwrecked in the Pacific Ocean. He survives 227 days stranded on a boat with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Martel’s riveting tale has two possible conclusions: one real and one fanciful. I once heard him giving a talk in which he was asked which outcome he preferred.

Now someone else has joined the discussion. Out of the blue Martel received a letter from President Obama (see below). This must be the ultimate accolade when thinking about what effect one’s work has on others.

(By the way, the novel was rejected by at least five London publishing houses before being accepted by Knopf in Canada. It’s also about to be realeased as a spectacular film.)

If you want to read Martel’s own thoughts, go to http://www.powells.com/fromtheauthor/martel.html where he speaks of the influences and inspiration behind his work.

Doris Lessing on writing

"Writers are often asked, ‘How do you write? With a wordprocessor? an electric typewriter? a quill? longhand?’ But the essential question is, ‘Have you found a space, that empty space, which should surround you when you write?’ Into that space, which is like a form of listening, of attention, will come the words, the words your characters will speak, ideas - inspiration.

If a writer cannot find this space, then poems and stories may be stillborn.

When writers talk to each other, what they discuss is always to do with this imaginative space, this other time. ‘Have you found it? Are you holding it fast?’ “

(This quote comes from Doris Lessing On Not Winning the Nobel Prize (via wood s lot and wordpainting. The photo is a ‘space’ in Shetland, one of the Scottish islands).

"Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any."

These words are by Orson Scott Card (via peninhandwordsinheart)                    

The sculpture is outside the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.