E. B. White on the Role and Responsibility of the Writer

Who am I writing for

My reading today has been this article on brainpickings.org about E.B. White’s view on the role and responsibilities of the writer.


As academic writers this is an important aspect of our work, whether we are writing a thesis, a journal article, a blog or Tweeting. This 1969 quote from E.G. White is informative for all of us in the web age:

‘A writer should concern himself with whatever absorbs his [her] fancy, stirs his [her] heart, and unlimbers his [her] typewriter.

I feel no obligation to deal with politics. I do feel a responsibility to society because of going into print: a writer has the duty to be good, not lousy; true, not false; lively, not dull; accurate, not full of error. He [She] should tend to lift people up, not lower them down. Writers do not merely reflect and interpret life, they inform and shape life.

A question to ask ourselves are have I REALLY considered who I am writing for and why?

Psychologist Barry Schwartz on What Motivates Us to Work, Why Incentives Fail, and How Our Ideas About Human Nature Shape Who We Become | Brain Pickings


Sent from my iPad

Acclimatising to Australian bats…

I have just got a handle on the jet lag, thank goodness, so sleep deprivation is now reduced to being woken at 5.30 a.m. by our kookaburra alarm clock.   Our ‘studio in the garden’ is bordered by a creek lined with eucalyptus trees full of bats. At dusk they take off and fly very fast in a hoard across the property with a ‘whooshing’ noise. I remember on a visit here once being in the swimming pool floating on my back when this happened.  What a sight!  When they had passed the dark night sky came back into view to display the Milky Way.  All of this certainly demonstrates God’s marvellous natural creation.  

The road trip to emigrating to Mullumbimby

We have finally reached our destination as British emigrants to Mullumbimby in New South Wales, Australia.  Our first sighting of the road to Mullumbimby on this major life-changing trip.

Chinny’ is mentioned in just about every house advert as a way of getting a higher house price ‘And finally, this home has the best views of the iconic Mount Chincogan’.  Any house seller unfortunate enough not to be able to see Chinny from any window has to drop their house price dreams by $100,000 😱

On our way from Melbourne to Mullumbimby we passed through several interesting places, including Coffs Harbour.  After Melbourne’s extensive cafe lifestyle we found substantial grub quite difficult to source so we became quite experienced at seeking out the local Soldiers, Sailors and Airforce, RSLs or Bowling Clubs.  The winner for the best one was the Catholic Club (‘The King of Clubs’) in Campbelltown. The worst was Coffs Harbour. Their breaded calamari needed to be tasted to be believed. Still it was tea time on a Sunday evening and we did win a couple of games of Keno to balance things out 😃

Happy New (writing) year….

Yesterday I did the unthinkable and tidied out my side of the study. All those journal articles I printed out last year to read and never did (all those trees!). Memorabilia from conferences attended last year. Old pens. Uncountable new, unused folders and files. In the black bag and put into the bin. Try not to think about the waste. Just think about the writing production line.

First thing this morning I read Joanna Penn’s automatic email on her highly productive 2014 and goals for 2015. She left management consultancy to become a dystopia novel writer and has branched into non-fiction, motivational speaking and training. Her productivity is impressive but her blogs are more so. Thank you, Joanna, for caring about others’ needs. I know you do this partly for marketing your ‘products’ from your writing but you must also care about others otherwise you wouldn’t do it. Find her here.

Next Steps
Joanna talks about her next steps:

‘Essentially, the model is: trust emergence and continue to feed the muse in order to write (which for me involves travel and research), turn those ideas into books, turn that one book into multiple products, distribute globally and reach readers through marketing, and then repeat.’

Talk about a simple but effective set of goals set up in one statement. Masterly.

As ever, my goals can’t be constructed without setting up a digital tool to accommodate the preparation process. Today’s download is the Microsoft Excel app to construct the writing plan for 2015. Let’s see how it turns out.


One day you’re top talent, the next day…you need help..is coaching helpful?

Many moons ago I went to work in a UK Job centre sitting at a desk in a sort of showroom of presentation boards with cards showing brief details of jobs and giving a reference number. The jobseeker would write down the number and come to a desk where I or my colleagues would interview them then ring the employer for an interview if there was a match. It often struck me how older workers would arrive in their first week of unemployment smartly dressed and raring to go. But as the weeks progressed, their dress, demeanour and spirit declined. Then they would stop coming and I would wonder what had happened to them. I would have a vague sense of guilt that I had not helped them. Seeing up to 50 people a day on what was colloquially known as ‘the front line’ didn’t make it easy to spend the time that someone in that position needed to support them and help them help themselves.

Today I saw an article about such people at management level.

Coaching to help the derailled..

It’s entitled ‘Coaching unemployed managers and professionals through the trauma of unemployment: Derailed or undaunted?’ By David E Gray of University of Greenwich, Yiannis Gabriel of University of Bath (always worth a read) and Harshita Goregaokar, University of Surrey, all UK.

Also check out Suzanne Ross’ work on derailed talent.

What are you saying in those e-communication silences?

My colleague, Professor Dalvir Samra-Fredericks is an ethnomethodologist who researches those small communicative moments when we say so much about ourselves and each other when communicating. I saw this today which reminded me of two things. Firstly, that ethnomethodologists can usefully study digital communication and, secondly, that silence is an important aspect of this. For my own research it also made me wonder about digital gamification processes….so much to study…

this is an interesting article that considers digital ethnomethodology and silences..