Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Choosing to Write in Oil or Watercolor

It’s spring in Delaware. Azaleas and primrose in bloom, warm days and cool nights. In celebration of their beautiful garden, some friends recently hosted a large party under a big white tent. They seated me at a table filled with people whose passion is painting pictures.

A few of these people were retired, painting as a serious hobby. Some were studying painting. Others were making a living at it, their work represented in galleries. I found it especially interesting that when asked, “What kind of painting do you do,” the answer was never “abstract” or "landscape" or “figurative,” etc. It was always “oil” or “watercolor.”

One of the oil painters said to a watercolorist, “I could never do that. I prefer the freedom to paint over my mistakes.”

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Come the Volcano

In the past week, two things happened at about the same time, but very far apart in geography and scale. First, an Icelandic volcano with an unpronounceable name began spewing ash into the atmosphere. Nearly at the same time, my wife’s Kindle died.

Two disparate events. Yet I am tempted to connect some dots.

The volcano you know about as well as I. Downwind in Iceland, the landscape looked like something out of Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic novel, The Road. Farther downwind, air traffic in much of Europe ground to a halt, many billions of dollars worth of infrastructure rendered useless.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

E-telling on the iPad

Does the iPad change everything? Of course not. By now we should have learned that NOTHING ever changes EVERYTHING. But I’ve been playing with this device for a day now, and I can say with confidence that it does this: it expands possibilities for the storyteller.

To begin studying this issue, everyone should view the remarkable video created by Penguin, entitled iPad Imagineering. From the perspective of a book publishing fan, I found it heartening. It deserves to go viral. Too often book publishers have run scared from new technology, then ventured in one toe at a time, as if the water were too hot for their metabolism.

Not Penguin, not now. Here is a publisher acting, rather than reacting. Here is a publisher asserting that it will have a role in the new paradigm, a role it will seize itself, which is how all business gets done in growing markets, where nobody hands you anything — where, as Jack Welch famously said, you eat your own lunch or someone else will.