Raymond Chandler relished finding names for his quirky characters, including Philip Marlowe, the pipe-smoking, chess-playing private eye — a literary kinsman to Sam Spade, Dashiell Hammett’s solitary sleuth — whom I first met in the pages of fiction as a teenager and whom I have known more than fifty years. Sometimes the names are dead giveaways about the morality or immorality of the character, sometimes they’re opaque, but I’ve always found them intriguing and an open invitation to try to solve the mystery myself.
If all Mead notebooks are this floppy, I won’t be buying them anymore. That’s the point of having a cardboard back — stiffness, so you can write on the pages without the surface flexing and warping like a bucking bronco. I’ve gotten some Office Depot brand notebooks at work which seem far superior — I’m likely going to buy some for myself once I’m done with this monstrosity. If I decide to stick it out till the last page.
Sad — Mead used to be my go-to notebook, whether the 8 1/2 x 11 size like this or the half-size ones for journals.
The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.
John Steinbeck, New York Times, 1969.
I do a considerable number of college lectures every year.[...] And frequently I will say something about the human condition that seems perfectly rational and proper to me, because I know we all share the same thoughts. Invariable, some feep in the audience will attempt to pillory me with the stunning accusation, “You only said that to shock!”
My response is always the same.
“You bet your ass, slushface. Of course I said it to shock you (or wrote it to shock you). I don’t know how you perceive my mission as a writer, but for me it is not a responsibility to reaffirm your concretized myths and provincial prejudices. It is not my job to lull you with a false sense of the rightness of the universe. This wonderful and terrible occupation of recreating the world in a different way, each time fresh and strange, is an act of revolutionary guerilla warfare. I stir up the soup. I inconvenience you. I make your nose run and your eyes water. I spend my life and miles of visceral material in a glorious and painful series of midnight raids against complacency. It is my lot to wake with anger every morning, to lie down at night even angrier. All in pursuit of one truth that lies at the core of every jot of fiction ever written: we are all in the same skin…but for the time it takes to read these stories I merely have the mouth. You see before you a child who never grew up, who does not know it’s socially unacceptable to ask, ‘Who farted?’”
From the introduction to Shatterday, by Harlan Ellison