Pride and Prejudice - The STORY GRID edition - Annotated by SHAWN COYNE

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ARCHIVES OF November, 2011

Writing Wednesdays

Writing Wednesdays

Stuff That Works

By Steven Pressfield | Published: November 30, 2011

I was in Israel for most of the past month, doing research for a book. That’s why I haven’t been able to deliver a new Writing Wednesday each week. My apologies!

The sojourn in the Holy Land produced mucho grist for future WWs, however. But we can bang one post out immediately: Product Recommendations.

Stuff I took with me that actually worked.

H4n

The ZOOM H4n recorder: Two Thumbs Up!

I offer the following consumer report (with NO connections, financial or otherwise, to any product recommended or reviled below) for my fellow aspiring journalist/novelist globetrotters …

1. SwissGear IBEX laptop backpack.

I had noticed, doing book signings at West Point, that the cadets all had black Victorinix rucksacks that they carried their books in. My friend Lisa Corsiglia turned me on to the civilian version. I bought one ($99.99 at Best Buy) just for the Israel trip and it was great. The interior is divided into layered pockets, one on top of the other. One has a sleeve for a laptop (or a sweater or windbreaker), then four more pockets of decreasing sizes. Perfect for recording gear, cameras, passports, iPads, water bottles. I used it every day and it was a joy to work with.

2. Zoom H4n digital recorder.

I knew I was going to be doing a ton of interviewing, so I wanted something pro-level for sound quality, reliability and ease of use. My friend Mike Sita, who’s a video and sound editor, ordered this for me for $299 from B&H Photo on Ninth Avenue in NY. It worked great the whole way. The device takes memory cards—1G to 16G—which I found to be ideal. A 4G card records about an hour and can be swapped out in two or three minutes.

Two disadvantages to the H4n: it’s hand-sized, too bulky to stick in a shirt pocket for walk-and-talks—and if it has a mike jack, I couldn’t find it. For outdoor interviews I had to use a mini-recorder with a lavalier mike.

(more…)

Posted in Writing Wednesdays
14 Comments

War Stories

War Stories

A Letter from Lawrence of Arabia

By Steven Pressfield | Published: November 28, 2011

The piece below comes not from Seven Pillars of Wisdom or from the David Lean movie or from Michael Korda’s wonderful new book, Hero. It’s from a letter written by T.E. Lawrence during the WWI revolt in the Arabian desert, when he led what the British called “Bedouin irregulars” against the Turks.

Lawrence

Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif from the movie "Lawrence of Arabia"

Alas, I can’t recall the date of the letter or the circumstances of its writing or even the person it was written to. I cut it out and saved it as an example of vivid, immediate, riveting prose.

I used to copy these two paragraphs over and over on my ancient Smith-Corona, trying to teach myself the rhythm and punch of the thing.

Given the carnage of the scene described, we might expect the writer to be appalled or moved to pity. Not Lawrence, or at least not Lawrence in this moment. He seems to be having the time of his life. (more…)

Posted in War Stories
9 Comments

What It Takes

What It Takes

Third Party Validation Revisited

By Shawn Coyne | Published: November 25, 2011

“Third Party Validation” first ran March 4, 2011. It’s back again for the long Thanksgiving weekend.

There’s an old joke.

An extended family lives in a valley. One night a torrential rain comes over the mountain. Flash flooding…the works. The mother and children prepare to seek shelter. Dad decides to ride it out and do his best to save the family home.  Mom and the kids try to get Grandma into the car, but she won’t budge.  She just repeats “The Lord will provide…the Lord will provide.”

The storm worsens.  The water rises past the first floor and Dad and Grandma make their way to the roof.  A man in a canoe comes along and offers assistance.  Dad gets in the canoe and leans back to help Grandma on board, but she won’t move.  The canoe lurches forward. Dad screams that he’ll be back…  Grandma continues to chant “The Lord will provide…”

Dad comes back an hour later in a speedboat.  The water is half way up the second floor.  Grandma still won’t leave… “The Lord will provide…”

Another hour passes and Dad has commandeered a helicopter.  Grandma is clinging to the chimney.  He lowers a rope ladder to her but she refuses to grab and climb it.  The last thing Dad hears is “The Lord will provide,” as Grandma slips into the deluge.

Grandma makes her way to the Pearly Gates.  Grim faced and saddened, she asks Saint Peter why the Lord failed her.

“Look lady…we sent a canoe, a speed boat and a helicopter.  Whaddya want from us!”

We’ve all been that old lady.  We want the spotlight, to be seen by others as special, indispensible, worthy even of supernatural intervention. In these times first party validation—self-validation—just doesn’t cut it. The old “I’d never want to belong to a club that would have me as a member,” riff.  And as Dean Martin would say, ‘You’re nobody ‘til somebody loves you.’ (more…)

Posted in What It Takes
5 Comments
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