Bach’s melodies — to me the most beautiful melodies in music — emerge from a tightly constructed foundation. Some people find them cold because of their perfection. But all fine works of music, dance, painting and literature are born not from vague inspiration but — as I see it in my mind’s eye — from a design as clean and spare as a house frame of New Hampshire birch. Children’s picture books are a short literary form like the sonnet. The soundness of their structure is therefore crucial — more important than in longer and more leisurely  forms of writing.

Children’s author Rosemary Wells

The Well-Tempered Children’s Book

Essay published in Worlds of Childhood: The Art and Craft of Writing for Children

edited by William Zinsser

The Hays Code and Creativity


Thought-provoking article by David Denby in The New Yorker that tracks how movie censorship in the 1930s led to more creativity on the part of writers and directors:


The “morals” embedded in the [Hays] Code were foolish and hypocritical, yet these semi-inane standards had an extraordinary effect. Producers, directors, and writers were forced to create sex without sex, to produce sexual tension by working around the prohibitions, extending every manner of preliminary to sex. In effect, censorship created plot, and in the process yielded one of the greatest of American film genres: thirties romantic comedy, including the dizzier versions celebrated as screwball comedy. Sex became play—even, at best, a springlike flourishing of fantasy and grace, expressed, most romantically, in the movies of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, in which sex became dance and was transmuted into endless variations on the themes of seduction, submission, revolt, and happiness.

If sexual frankness disappeared, tawdriness went with it, and the old fables of domination were replaced by a new creation: the couple, two people matched in beauty and talent who enjoy each other’s company more than anything else in the world.

The Hays Code and Creativity

Finding Stories Everywhere — Part 5

Chicago artist Theaster Gates Jr. bought a derelict bank in Chicago for $1 and turned it into an arts center within three years.Here’s more:

Under the new moniker Stony Island Arts Bank, the building is now home to art installations, artists, scholars, and archives on art history, architecture, and black culture. It also houses the Rebuild Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by Gates to invest culture in underdeveloped neighborhoods.

A true (and inspiring) story that could generate all kinds of  ideas for fictional stories and/or travel itineraries…



Finding Stories Everywhere — Part 5

Finding Stories Everywhere Part 4

Screenshot 2015-11-09 20.44.59

Looking for a cool job for your protagonist — something that stands out among all the detectives, spies, magazine editors and (if you’re a fan of cozy retro mysteries) curates?

Try this on for size:

Satellite Archaeologist.

Dr. Sarah H. Parcak, described by the New York Times as a pioneering “satellite archaeologist,” just won a million-dollar prize from TED for a project of her choice.

Satellites can now be used to armies of looters, which is fascinating enough, you’d think. But this story also covers terrorism, ancient artifacts and ebay.

Read the article, then watch her TED video.

Don’t everybody go to your laptops at once…

Finding Stories Everywhere Part 4