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Honestly, this news feels like Amazon is desperately trying to force a hit, blockbuster-level series by throwing infinite amounts of money at it.

Perhaps the biggest problem is Amazon has their sights set on one of the most successful shows in history. Maybe Amazon has a recipe for success with this series. But spending that much money on a show feels like a huge risk. And even though Amazon has plenty of money to blow from all those Amazon Prime memberships we pay for to make sure we get packs of fake mustaches sent to us in at least two days, this still seems like a precarious endeavor for them to take on.

Comment Now! If focuses our attention on what might be true. Chapter 63 of the Tao Te Ching, one of the foundational works of Taoism, is a bullet list of what appear to be paradoxes:. Practice non-action. Work without doing. Taste the tasteless.

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Magnify the small, increase the few. Reward the bitterness with care. Never has perfect writing advice been so cleverly hidden in plain view. I could break each of these lines down into entire chapters of writing advice until I had a novel about writing a novel. The more you dwell on them, the more depth and truth leaks out, which is how paradoxes often work. The chapter goes on…. Make your plots easy to understand, for all their twists and turns. Distill them to their pure meanings. But find details and elegance in the smallest of descriptions — the song of porcelain on porcelain as a teacup is lifted from a saucer, the brush of hair on a bare shoulder.

Taste the tasteless: give the reader a sense of what it is to be there, even in pitch black. And do this all by embracing the strenuous effort of sitting still, alone with your thoughts, doing nothing, which is by far the most herculean thing anyone does these days. Most of all, reward the bitterness with care. Bring tension to your story and within your characters. Which leads me to the Tweet that inspired this blog post.

It was a tip from my friend Wesley Chu, who has advice for anyone contemplating writing a novel:. Hey guys, protip. If you don't think you can write a book, you're probably right. Occasionally a good paradox cloaks itself in tautology. What Wesley is saying here appears true by its very construction. Writing is an act of doing.

You must sit down and put words together. I never thought I could write a book. For twenty years I tried to write a novel and gave up every single time. Twenty years! I probably left fifty or sixty book ideas to die barely completed. I wrote my first novel in a flurry of self-discovery and self-doubt. The more the novel grew, the more the weight of my inadequacy mounted.

It was like that tractor pull device that slides up over the roof as the truck makes progress … the very act of progress serving as an impediment to progress. With every novel written, the way of writing novels grows more cloudy. The doubts only increase.

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Finishing a novel often feels just as mysterious to me as starting a new one. How had I done that? So it seems Wesley is wrong. It would seem that Wesley is wrong in another way: In my experience, the people with the most talent have the most crippling self-doubts. The people with the least talent are the most confident. Talent in art grows by absorbing great art, and there is no way to be a student of art without being humbled by the self-made comparisons.

We will never be as good as the things we admire. When I see people say as Wesley does here that self-doubt should be the end of trying, a part of me wants to shout and rebel. It wants to rise up and say Fuck That Noise!

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The people with doubts are the very people who should be writing! They are the only people who should be writing! No one should ever write but without confidence! And here is where simple truth leads to paradox and back to truth, because Wesley Chu is of course right in every possible way.


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What changed for me — and ended twenty years of failure — was a writing conference in Charlottesville Virginia. At the time, I was reviewing books because I was incapable of writing them. I was full of admiration. One of the writers at the conference that I admired was Charles Todd, which is actually a writing duo of mother and son, Caroline and Charles Todd. I attended a panel they were on, and at one point, a member of the audience asked how they could go about writing their first novel.

You stop dreaming of writing a novel. And you write! My hair was blown back. I sat down and wrote my first novel. In a week. Seven days. Twenty years of failure gone, poof, just like that. I concentrated on doing it. I want the reluctant greatness in every artist to be expressed and tested on the open market. I want those with doubts to fill worlds with characters who are consumed by their doubts.

The more qualified you are. The more you have something worth saying. Live there, grow there, learn there. But at some point, stop thinking. Chapter 63 of the Tao Te Ching, and everything you need to know on writing a novel, ends with this:. In the universe the difficult things are done as if they are easy.

In the universe great acts are made up of small deeds. The sage does not attempt anything very big, And thus achieves greatness.

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Easy promises make for little trust. Taking things lightly results in great difficulty. Because the sage always confronts difficulties, He never experiences them. The universe is full of some very cool stuff: neutron stars that weigh a ton a teaspoon; supermassive black holes that grip even light in their iron fists; infinitesimal neutrinos that stream right through solid steel; all the bizarre flora and fauna found right here on planet Earth.

It might be the ultimate in egoism, but of all the known things in the universe, the most amazing is surely the lump of goo inside our skulls. That lump of goo knows about neutron stars, black holes, neutrinos, and a middling number of the flora and fauna here on planet Earth.

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It even knows a little about itself. That lump of goo has worked out mathematical truths, moral half-truths, and philosophical ambiguities. And from the mud beneath our feet, it extracted all the stuff used to make our great cities, our cars and jets and rockets, and the wires and wireless signals that are turning these disparate lumps of goo into one great hivemind of creativity, knowledge, and sometimes … cruelty.


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There can be no argument that our brains are the coolest things ever, because there can be no such argument without those brains. They are the substrate of all argument and discussion. End of discussion. I made a dash for the garage as soon as the van pulled to a stop. Behind large wooden doors turned gray by the beating sun was a musty room that smelled of fish and sea salt and rust.

But all I cared about what was on the trailer. The doors leading out the back of the garage were held in place by a timber resting in two metal brackets.

Lifting this out and jumping back as the timber crashed to the concrete, I would throw open the doors and let in the North Carolina sunshine. Two weeks of summer vacation on Figure Eight Island. I grabbed the hitch of the small trailer and wrestled the sailboat back toward the sound. Most of my two weeks would be spent sailing in circles, pretending that I was sailing around the world.

At nine or ten years old, setting the mast of a little Sunfish sailing skiff was like raising a flag over Iwo Jima without any buddies to throw their back into it. Trial and error. Invariably, I made a mistake or two.