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What It Takes

What It Takes

iCrazy Interrupted

By Callie Oettinger | Published: February 20, 2015

(This first ran August 10, 2012. It’s making a repeat appearance this week as a reminder to unplug and clear the head while clearing the snow on the ground.)

The headline stared out from the magazine rack in the check-out line. Beyond the guess-which-celebrity-has-the-worst-beach-body headlines was:

Panic. Depression. Psychosis.
How Connection Addiction Is Rewiring Our Brains

It was splashed across the top of Newsweek.

* * *

In January, my husband and I bundled up our kids and headed skiing. The lodge where we ate lunch was the only place to plug-in during the day.

The first day I was a wreck. I needed to get online.

“You’re on vacation,” my husband reminded me. “People know you’re gone. It’s ok.”

That wasn’t the point. I needed to know what was going on. What was I missing out on?

And then it started to pass.

And by the end of the trip, I realized my head was clearing.

And I knew why.

The things missing during vacation—those things that ate up much of my usual day-to-day life—were e-mail and the Internet.

* * *

I found iCrazy by Tony Dokoupil sandwiched between pieces  about Tom Cruise and Syria. It opened with the example of Jason Russell, the man behind the documentary “Kony 2012,” who went from little social presence to overload—to stripping down on a street corner, slapping the pavement and ranting.

* * * (more…)

Posted in What It Takes

What It Takes

What It Takes

The Story Bell Curve

By Shawn Coyne | Published: February 13, 2015

[Join to read more of Shawn’s Stuff]

If you were to somehow plot all of the Stories that have ever been told, what would it look like?

Here's a Story from about 30,000 to 32,000 years ago.

Here’s what I think:

It would look a lot like other natural phenomena such as the distribution of height in human beings, or blood type or women’s shoe sizes. The graph would look like a bell curve, in statistics what’s called a normal distribution (or Gaussian distribution).

I think that makes sense because Stories are as natural to human beings as air or water. (more…)

Posted in What It Takes

What It Takes

What It Takes

Do It

By Callie Oettinger | Published: February 6, 2015

Do It, Harper Lee

This past week, the Crazy Train rolled through, packed with reports about Harper Lee and another book.

Had the media storm that followed been an actual snow storm, it would have been the first this season to have been predicted with 100% accuracy.

As Winston Churchill put it, “A lie gets halfway around the world before Truth has a chance to get its pants on.” In this Global Village of ours, I doubt if Truth was even out of bed by the time all the rumors were on their second circuit around the pond.

I don’t know Lee or her family and friends, or her publisher or her lawyer, so I’ll let them sort out the rumors.

There is one thing I’m having a hard time dropping, though—the opinion that she shouldn’t publish. By publishing now, this thinking goes, she might risk tarnishing her legacy—and To Kill A Mockingbird thus lose its “classic” label.

Assuming she wasn’t “manipulated” into releasing the book as some have opined, why shouldn’t she publish? It’s her life and her work.

Yes, it might be that the new release won’t be as good as the first. And, perhaps we’ll find that To Kill A Mockingbird benefited more from a genius editor than a talented writer.

But, we also might find ourselves reading another book confirming Lee to be the literary force that so many of us have believed her to be. We might find ourselves reading the seed of what grew into the now-classic. We might find ourselves reading the next Great American Novel. And, we might find, as the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board wrote, that the new release “does nothing more than inspire readers to pick up Mockingbird for the first time or again.” And that is, as the Editorial Board also wrote, “enough of a gift.”

Is it really worth playing it safe?

No. It isn’t.

You might flop, but if we’re so fickle that we change opinions of your earlier work—or if your first release was a flop and then we use it as the marker to decide if your future work is worth our time—we don’t deserve you. (more…)

Posted in What It Takes
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