The Pleasure and Difficulty of Writing

There’s a spectacularly stupid quote attributed to Hemingway that seems to be everywhere on the internet these days. It goes like this, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” It turns out that Hemingway probably never said this (although he may have said other spectacularly stupid things), although that has not stopped the quote appearing here and there on writing blogs with all the persistence of Japanese knotweed.  Read more

Tove Jansson on Men & Marriage

“All the reasons I don’t want to get married came up… The whole male solidarity and protective pedestal of privileges, their weaknesses, inviolable and fenced in by slogans, their inconsistency and charming disregard for the feelings of others proclaimed with no trace of nuance as they beat a big drum from morning to evening from the safety of their boys’ network of connections. I can’t afford it, I haven’t time to marry any of them! I’m no good at admiring and comforting. Of course I’m sorry for them and of course I like them, but I’ve no intention of devoting my whole life to a performance I’ve seen through…”

— Tove Jansson, quoted in Tove Jansson: Life, Art, Words

In Praise of the Moomins

I am writing this somewhere on the ferry between Stockholm and Turku; and as I look out of the window at the grey sea and the rocky little outcrops of Åland, I find it all seems strangely familiar, as if I have seen it somewhere before. And, in a way, I have; because these are the seas that I navigated again and again in my childhood imagination, in the company of Moominpappa and Moomintroll and Snufkin, whilst reading those incomparably strange and wonderful [amazon_link id=”0140306099″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]children’s books[/amazon_link] by Tove Jansson.

These are the seas with islands so small and remote and strange that they might seem like bits of fly-dirt on the map; seas where chilly and lonely Grokes pursue distant boats with paraffin lamps at the head of the mast, glowing in the night; tiny harbours where small, solitary creatures crawl secretly underneath the tarpaulins of tied-up boats, to fall asleep and dream. And it feels like a pilgrimage of sorts to come here, and to watch out at the cormorants scudding over the waves, and to look across the countless islands towards the distant horizon. Read more

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