Truly profound essay written in 1952

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you know what kindness really is you must lose things, feel the future dissolve in a moment like salt in a weakened broth.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

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The 9-Minute Novelist: How to Write a Novel in Just Minutes a Day
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Writing a novel is a complicated equation involving a lot of variables and moving parts — not the least of which are the authors themselves. In fact, the process of writing a novel is so arduous and soaked in magical thinking that many writers struggle to explain the process coherently, and about the only thing anyone seems to agree on is that writing a novel requires an author. While artificial intelligence has certainly come a long way, you still need a human being to get a great work of fiction. And if you ask that human being about the most important aspect of their writing process, they’re likely to say “time.”

In fact, “not enough time to write” is probably the number-one complaint of most writers when asked. Between jobs, school, families, chores and everything else that comes along with a busy life, it often takes a superhuman effort to find time to write, much less write a fully fledged 80,000-word book. Much less 80,000 words that make some kind of sense.

Except that’s actually a fallacy. Because all you need to write a novel is nine minutes a day.

FAMOUS FAST NOVELS

It’s common knowledge that every year a bunch of perfectly mad writers challenges themselves to write 50,000 words in one month — and plenty of them succeed. There are also loads of examples of well-regarded published novels that didn’t take long to write:

  • On the Road by Jack Kerouac: Three weeks.
  • The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne: Two and a half days [4].
  • The Gambler by Fyodor Dostoyevsky: 26 days.
  • I, the Jury by Mickey Spillane: Nine days.

You get the drift — great novels don’t need thousands of man-hours. Of course, there are caveats. Kerouac spent months on the road making notes and experiencing the things he synthesized into fiction. Dostoyevsky was broke and desperate and agreed to deliver a novel by a specified date or lose the rights to future works, providing inspiration. But the fact remains that if John Boyne can write a novel in less than 72 hours, you can write a novel in short daily segments.

STRIP IT DOWN

None of that means the struggle to find writing time isn’t real. We have only so much mental, emotional and spiritual energy — all three of which are required to write something true and beautiful.

Most often, the real problem isn’t so much time, but how we use it. This is one of those situations in which Perfect is the enemy of Good; we’re often stymied by the desire for a “perfect” writing environment — the right spot, with the right implements, in the right mood, with the right music, sipping the right cup of tea, basically the right everythingincluding the right amount of time.

But very few things in life can be perfect. The first step toward writing a novel in nine minutes a day is to think objectively about where your writing time actually goes. For the majority of us, much of it probably isn’t actually spent writing. We search the internet and do on-the-spot research, we review yesterday’s pages, we procrastinate. Sometimes that’s part of the process, of course — but sometimes it’s just wasting time. Chances are if you strip away all the rituals and the idea that everything has to be optimal before you can concentrate, you’ll find that much of what you think you need isn’t really necessary to the process.

After all, aside from those novels that were written super fast, many great works have been penned under terrible conditions. Jean Genet wrote Our Lady of the Flowers while in prison, mainly so he’d have something to, uh, entertain himself with. Peter Brett drafted his debut epic fantasy, The Warded Man, on the subway commuting to and from work. And William Carlos Williams wrote most of his poems in-between seeing patients while working as a doctor.

Like them (and countless other writers who are typing “The End” on novels every day while working under imperfect conditions), you don’t need a perfect nook or endless free time. You just need those nine minutes.    Read More…

Sometimes between the sun and us, I can a see this filter, almost like a glowing. As if the world were cast in a fragrant haze of bougainvillea and rose. A saffron sunrise. A malbec night. The moon circulating, all the time drawing us closer together as if the world were rushing into the singularity of us. This is all I will ever see again, in the morning, the evening, night, fall, and spring. The red castle haunts the periphery of my every moment. Could it ever be the same?

–Between the Sun and Us, Nicholas Andriani
Coming 2019

Our story is never-ending.

That to say, I will always love you.

Aware of this dream state which is my tendency to romanticize the past. Regardless of the truth, of fact — all those details are less real than the world I remember. Our twirling through the markets on the jackknife edge of recklessly falling into one another. A hopeless, twisting, deep down belly falling. Weightless in the Sierra Nevada.

To Ingvild, the one who never was but always will. My forthcoming novel is in part an apology to you. For everything.

The Dying of Baal

In ancient Syria it was said
if the paid mourners did not wail
and play their flutes,
the fire snake of grief,
the demon Bhalak, would stir
and scorch the bereft
from the inside out.

I bury one hand in the dirt.
With the other I throw dust
over my head. I am barefoot.
I do not eat. My bloodless hair
I pluck and tear: Syria is dead
and all the professional
mourners have fled.

Oh Syria! With the god of Storm
and Dew now thunder-mute
in Homs, Aleppo, Damascus and Palmyra,
without the rip of shirt and flesh,
un-memoried, the thousand silences,
thick and slow, stand on the banks
of the Orontes, a living mist,
wordless as the dead.

I thrust one hand into my chest.
With the other I scratch black scars
in a lost language of Body:
some, any, every, no.
The earth burns my feet.
My blistered tongue swells
with seared and serpent breath. 

Helen Wing is a poet and fiction writer currently living in Beirut. She has worked as a poet-in-residence in schools in China, the UK, and the EU and runs creative writing workshops for performance and poetry book publishing projects. Her work has been published in UK, US, China, and Lebanon.

This is one of the most polarizing and hauntingly beautiful films I have ever seen. A movie so emotionally packed that audiences promptly fall into one of two camps: the hopeless romantics, absolutely smitten or the average consumer, completely repulsed.

After the death of his father, Stefan returns to Paris, distraught and manic, locking himself within his mother’s apartment but not before falling hopelessly in love with the neighbor, Stephanie, equally manic, vastly apathetic. A hilariously emotional romp ensues as our lead, Stefan, finds himself struggling to distinguish dreams from reality. Meanwhile the audience is privy to Stefan’s dreams, as director, Michel Gondry distinguishes fantasy from reality through a series of fantastical stop-motion segments –utilizing claymation, cardboard cutouts, and an arsenal of craft supplies.

I can’t think of a more genuinely haunting display of one man’s falling into love and, unrequited as it is, slipping into insanity. Like peeking through the blinds of a most private scene we’re at once enthralled and heartbroken. For at the heart of Gondry’s project is the question, What is reality? And furthermore, What am I doing here? It’s a clash of the self. A feud between id, ego, and the superego.

Gondry represents that ethereal space just one-step ahead such auteurs as Wes Anderson. Yet, a relatable charm permeates his body of work –out to support the underdog, regardless of the outcome, which, as we see with Stefan –we find ourselves at once swollen with empathy yet also remorseful as our heroes explore the outer limits of sanity.

If you’re one of the lucky few to sit through the entirety of the film, it must be encouraged to consider your emotions immediately after for this is a film meant to inspire in-depth introspection, leaving the audience with one burning question, Is this reality? Don’t be so sure!

from Quo Vadis Fan Profile: Nicholas

An absolute pleasure to be interviewed by none other than Quo Vadis. I’ve been using their notebooks/journals for years now –*particularly for my literary endeavors.

QV: Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
NA: I’m a multi-genre novelist and explorer. A has-been archaeologist who exchanged trowel for pen. A Texas native, Kansas City transplant with a passion for the Middle East.

You can browse my body of work, read short stories and essays from the road, as well as stay up to date on future novels by subscribing to my website at nicholasandriani.com

You can also follow along on Instagram @nicholasandriani and Twitter @nickandriani

QV: How and when did you first discover Quo Vadis products?
NA: Back in 2012 I moved to the Middle East for work and as a parting gift from a buddy received a pocket Habana, this one became something of a trophy. Actually, this is the very pad that revealed my passion for writing (and painting). I’ve been been devoted to Quo Vadis ever since.

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*READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

Nicholas Andriani

I’m going to be extremely honest in this one…

It all began in the Spring of 2011 when the East caught fire and revolution spread across North Africa and the Middle East. Something in that moment struck a chord and I before I knew it, I was on a one-way flight to Morocco.

There I nurtured a desire to understand our world and a burning passion, not only to see and share in the rich complexities of life but to explore our past in hopes of answering such questions as, How did we get here? and, Where are we headed?

Since then I’ve traveled across the regions of Arabia, Europe, and the United States working as an archaeologist, journalist, ditch digger, butcher, cheesemonger, and a variety of odd jobs.

Now returned I’m seeking a formal education at the local community college in hopes of having a greater impact on our world.

I currently…

View original post 141 more words

I’m going to be extremely honest in this one…

It all began in the Spring of 2011 when the East caught fire and revolution spread across North Africa and the Middle East. Something in that moment struck a chord and I before I knew it, I was on a one-way flight to Morocco.

There I nurtured a desire to understand our world and a burning passion, not only to see and share in the rich complexities of life but to explore our past in hopes of answering such questions as, How did we get here? and, Where are we headed?

 

Since then I’ve traveled across the regions of Arabia, Europe, and the United States working as an archaeologist, journalist, ditch digger, butcher, cheesemonger, and a variety of odd jobs.

Now returned I’m seeking a formal education at the local community college in hopes of having a greater impact on our world.

I currently work 60+ hrs/wk and, after the subtraction of rent and investments in start-ups, I’m struggling to achieve the funds needed to return to school and complete my degree.

My wishes are simple: to complete my education so that I may pursue a career in Elementary Education and Comparative Literature

I feel nothing but excitement for the future of humanity, of this extraordinary planet, and it would be an immense honor to have your support along the way.

Thank you for your time and please feel free to reach out at any moment should you have any questions or like to discuss my intentions.

–Nicholas Andriani

Student Grant

$5.00

P.S. This in no way will prevent the progress of my novel work! Which is going along quite well and I thank you for the continued readership and support as I work towards publishing

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There comes a point in every person’s life where one’s identity comes into play. Questions like, Who am I? and for some the deeply moving, What am I?

Not only provocative but deeply

i love english literature

1. The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Synopsis:

The Road follows a father and son, journeying together for many months across a desolate, post-apocalyptic landscape, some years after a great, unexplained disaster. Civilisation has been destroyed, and most species have become extinct. The sun is obscured by deep, dark clouds and plants don’t grow. Humanity consists largely of groups of cannibals, their food-source captives, and refugee-travellers who scavenge for food. Ash covers everything; it is in the atmosphere, it obscures the sun and moon, and the two travellers breathe through improvised masks.

The boy’s mother was overwhelmed by the desperate and hopeless situation and has committed suicide some time before the story begins. Her explanation, offered was that they all would be raped, killed and eaten, and that there was no hope left for a different fate. The father is skilled with firearms and knowledgeable about machinery, woodcraft, and human biology…

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“So from populist demagogues, we will learn the indispensability of democracy. And from isolationists, we will learn the need for global solidarity. And from tribalists, we will learn the beauty of cosmopolitanism and the beauty of diversity.”

Author Elif Shafak presents a stimulating call to action, urging PEOPLE, all people, we the people, the collective, the hive mind, who actually have control and authority than we realize, to stand outside our comfort zone. To defend the weak. To life untethered by tribe, whether its “American” or “Arab: “Black” or “White:” “Muslim” or “Buddhist:” “Young” or “Old.”

More than ever we must resist the temptation to follow leaders who are unwilling to acknowledge these very truths.

I hope you find her lecture as moving as I do and please share your thoughts. Would you agree with Elif?

الْأُرْدُنّAl-‘Urdunn, Aqabah

Sun Blazing, the Red Sea, still, cool with Spring. I sit over Cafe Salaam, coffee, freshly roasted with cardamom and a handful of roasted nuts, wedged between an abundance of potted sage and a crumbling banister.

Open my sketchbook and look into the valley…

…Al-Sharif Al Hussein Bin Ali Mosque — open air markets winding and knotted, where camel heads swing from butcheries and parrots are sold hand over fist — all common fare. Beyond the mosque, the water opens in an uninterrupted display of coral and sunset pink, shipwrecks spot the depths like freckles between Egypt and Jordan.

al-Aqaba sketch

Could there be a better rooftop for writers and their manuscripts on a romantic getaway?

NAH!

Let’s hear it, tell me about your favorite rooftop experience. Where? Why?

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travel blog morocco zellij tile nicholas andriani

be confident — not sad sap, sipping quietly in corner bar.

be, act, speak with intention.

be finished, shop your novel. 

be-gin and finish the next one.

be published, and write freely.

be mindful and in tune with your environment

be kind

be gentle

be better.

be 29

be.

Just be – be OK with that. 


I wish you prosperity. I wish you health and wellness. I wish you success, and that all those dreams and whimsies come to find you.

How are your goals for 2018 coming along?

Hello my dear friends!

It has been a long time. I imagine we’ve all put a number of fresh miles below our feet and hearts. With 2018 behind us and new roads ahead. I look forward to catching up in the New Year and to hearing from all of you. As always, thank you for your indispensable, inexhaustible kindness and for gifting me with your time, which I know, is a rare and precious commodity in this age of distraction.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

My gratitude is boundless.

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I would love to have your opinion on my newest project Roama: Stories of Humanity. an interactive website of like-minded, worldly souls swapping stories, music, recipes, photography and poetry from people all across the world — special attention given to cultures often misrepresented and overlooked.

When my house flooded in 2017 — just after I prematurely quit my job to pursue these goals — I quickly learned the sobering reality of Real Life, whatever it is, and it’s been quite difficult to get back to the art, to the passion and to re-stabilize. Right now I work exclusively from an old iPhone, and an even older tablet! I am launching this campaign to invest in a computer and to fully launch my newest dream and I ask, if you feel at all moved or inspired by my work, be it the novels, the photography, writings, poetry or some deep-rooted kindred connection (I feel it too!), please consider making a contribution. Help me bring these dreams to the light of day.

Thank you so much for being a part of my life and for taking your time to connect with me. Please feel free to reach out, i’d love to hear from you!

Cheers and happy roamings,
Nicholas

Roama: Stories of Humanity

an interactive website of like-minded, worldly souls swapping stories, music, recipes, photography and poetry from people all across the world -- special attention given to cultures often misrepresented and overlooked.

$5.00

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It was 2012.

While the rest of humanity prepared for the Mayan Apocalypse, I was in the process of selling off ALL my belongings, the profits of which went towards a one-way ticket to Africa and a few months of vagabonding to, you know, “figure out my life.” While researching my first stop –a little known Kingdom called Morocco!– I came across an article about this peculiar dish called tagine. Growing up in an international family I’m naturally obsessed with global cuisine and this is my absolute favorite.

Even the name is sexy.

Say it with me, “Tah-Jeen.”

See! Don’t you feel more exotic?

No plans of visiting a Moroccan bazaar? A quick jaunt to Sur La Table will seal the gap between your grill and Marrakech as we travel together, in our shared craving for the exotic.

Oh, look at you with that shiny new Tagine. Welcome to a new you. Hi there. Here’s the thing. This is my favorite disk. Well, that I have personally made. so IMO, buying a tagine is a tremendous investment. Not only will you impress others but your abilities will be forever evolving. As this is one of the worlds most enchanting dishes.

But it was in the Kingdom itself that I had my first tagine. A friend of mine knew of a place, in a village way up in the Atlas Mountains, a day drive from Marrakech. The kind of place with rickety plastic tables, and shredded tarpaulins as tablecloths. Yet, where dining over the tagine was no less than a ceremony. It was dimly lit, in this crag on the mountain, in the banks of a river carrying icemelt from the previous winter.

We ordered the lamb which came out sizzling on a bed of onions, carrots and garlic surrounded by green olives, dates, and preserved lemons in a rich oily sauce. This being my first meal in 21 hours I dug in eagerly. It may be cliche but this truly was a surreal experience, chowing down, pouring mint tea late into the night.

The next evening I found myself lost in the ancient markets, stumbling down cobbled alleys and seeking to end the craving, like some junkie, shuffling for my next fix and finally with feverish delight slipping through the corridor of an invite-only restaurant: where belly dancers, in sheer skirts and charming bras, were swaying about as clouds of hookah smoke billowed about to the tunes of a hypnotic flute.

…good memories. #takemeback.

Now, back in the states, I’ve had to learn to master the dish for those frequent cravings. This is the most true, and most manageable recipe i’ve found online.

Image and recipe by the Ethnic Spoon

tagine-chicken-1

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup onion chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 Roma tomato cored and diced
  • 1/4 cup peas frozen
  • 3 carrots sliced
  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • 1 tsp curry
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 Tb fresh parsley chopped
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt (paleo diet: sea salt)
  • 3 lbs chicken whole roaster cut into pieces
  • 1 lb potatoes (paleo diet: sweet potatoes)

FOR FULL RECIPE & INSTRUCTIONS CHECK OUT The Ethnic Spoon. I absolutely love Analida’s blog and recipes. They’re among my go-to websites.

Et Voila! Have you come across any dishes abroad that left a huge impression?

N. Andriani

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It was during my long and dusty sojourn in the Middle East when I first saw them. Buried deep in this old collapsed village, on the far end of town where the market spills into a sea of sand and slate. My boots had worn thin, literally, threadbare the cheap rubber soles were no thicker than a sheet of paper and I was due to return to the excavation any minute. Pressed for time I went to the tattered edge of an old cobblers shop and there they were, hanging in pairs of two, from the vaulted ceiling down to the cobbles like lattice.

The Turkish Yemeni

Now, i’m not the most fashion-driven or even fashionable guy, but the effortless, dare I say, timeless cool of these utilitarian shoes embedded deep within my heart. So much so that I refused to wear anything else –weather climbing, hiking, excavating or swimming the coral banks of the Red Sea (true!).

But it wasn’t until I returned to America that their spell had fully settled in. When I was heartbroken to find my home country a desert for yemenis…

Then in 2012 I met the Sabah Dealer.

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Rhythmic swells reverberate trough my lungs. The back streets of Valencia.

Back street Europe.

Romani enclaves and gypsy parts of town.

We’ll sit here in the Plaça de la Virgen with our stiff sangria, smartly bashful in red-faced delerium.

For it is Spring and the blossoms have begun to sing.

A nod to blanco nerium.

Did you know that every week I draw a name from my mailing list and send out a personalized gift?

Sign up and you could be next.

Who knows, if i’m in Morocco maybe i’ll send you a crystal from the Sahara. If in California, a shell. Or if i’m home in my lonely Middle West i’ll send you a book based on our friendship. Or some local chocolates. Mhmmm.. chocolate.

c Flash poems and much, much more.

So, what are you waiting for?

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