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The Future of Print

"Books will evolve online and off, and the definition of what counts as one will expand; the sense of the book as a fundamental channel of culture, flowing from past to future, will endure. People may no longer try to pass on wisdom to their sons and daughters through slave-written scrolls, as Cicero did in de Officiis, or even in print. It may even be that Voltaire was right, and that none of them will ever write anything more wise than what was set down 2,000 years ago. But it will not be for want effort, or of opportunity, or of an audience of future readers ready to seek out wisdom in the books that they leave behind."

- "The future of the book" (via The Economist)

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Security is a Superstition

"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing."

– Helen Keller

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Don't Be Loquacious

"To be loquacious is to use a lot of words to say very little or to use big words when you could use little ones. Don’t use multisyllabic, Latinate words like 'loquacious' when you can use nice, monosyllabic words like the Anglo-Saxon word 'word' . . .

It’s important for your words to be grounded in truth—in what Henry James called 'felt life'—that form should always be tethered to content. Or, to put this another way: as writers, your love of language and form, even if that’s the place you start from (and that’s where many of the best writers start from), should nonetheless generate a search for the meaning your form wants to say.

Saying something well is only worthwhile when you have something to say."

– Gregory Wolfe, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Creative Writers According to St. Augustine

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Aesthetics and Fragmentation

"Any system that sees aesthetics as irrelevant, that separates the artist from his product, that fragments the work of the individual, or creates by committee, or makes mincemeat of the creative process will, in the long run, diminish not only the product but the maker as well."

– Paul Rand

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How Words Feed the Soul

Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It’s like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can’t stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.

– Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

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Forget Your Generalized Audience

Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.

– John Steinbeck, interview in The Paris Review

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