“Show up, show up, show up,” Isabel Allende advised, “and after a while the muse shows up, too.” “Inspiration is for amateurs,” Chuck Close famously proclaimed, “the rest of us just show up and get to work.” “When you work regularly,” Gretchen Rubin asserted, “inspiration strikes regularly.”But as prescriptive as we may get about the pursuit and attainment of inspiration, its very nature remains ever-elusive.
That’s precisely what Vladimir Nabokov addresses in an essay titled “Inspiration,” a fine addition to famous writers’ collected wisdom on writing, originally published in the Saturday Review on November 20, 1972, and found in Strong Opinions (public library) — the same fantastic volume that gave us the author’s rare BBC interview on literature and life.
The New Yorker relaunched its website today with a complete makeover, signaling the first step in the magazine’s new focus on the web.
Part of that initiative is the magazine’s decision to open up its archives to the general public for the rest of the summer. Until the website puts up its metered paywall sometime in the fall, the New Yorker editors will be releasing curated collections of stories periodically.
We pulled out a selection of our favorite stories from the archives that you should definitely check out while they’re free.
As soon as he opened his eyes, he felt it. A strange peace, a calm clarity. He stretched. Even his limbs were stronger and surer. He looked at his phone. Thirty-seven new text messages – and all while he was asleep. With one click, he deleted them. The empty screen buoyed him. Then he got up to bathe, determined to fold the day into the exact shape that he wanted.
The first half of 2014 has seen a number of impressive short story collections, from an always-exciting new book by Lydia Davis to The Office star B.J. Novak’s critically-acclaimed literary debut. But with so many good short stories in circulation, it can be hard to decide which to read, or at the very least, which to read first. If you consume collections the way many do—by sampling one entry at a time—it can be helpful