Start with one page

I start with very short pieces, usually no more than a handwritten page. I try to focus on something specific: a person, a moment, a place. I do what I ask my students to do when I teach creative writing. I explain to them that such fragments are the first steps to take before constructing a story. I think a writer should observe the real world before imagining a nonexistent one.

In Other Words, Jhumpa Lahiri. pg 61

Many of the exercises Jhumpa describes for learning how to write in Italian can be used for improving your writing in English.

Start small. Start by filling one page.

Beppe Furino – The Timeless Water Carrier


Every team needs this player.

State side we call them defensive midfielders, or holding midfielders. Back in my U-10 parks and recreation soccer days we called them stoppers.

In Italy they’re called the Mediano, the water carrier.

John Foot describes the Italian interpretation of this player in his book Winning at all Costs: A Scandalous history of Italian Soccer:

In order for the skillful players to have the space with which to work, somebody had to get the ball, and give it to them. The playmakers couldn’t be expected to do the running that was needed, the dirty work, the pressing. Every team had at least two players of this type, if not three.

Winning at all Costs: A Scandalous history of Italian Soccer, John Foot. pg 146, 147

Juventus of course, had whom many consider to be the greatest mediani of all – Beppe Furino.

Beppe, to the right, in the black and white Juventus stripes

Juventus specialized in mediani, and the greatest of all was Beppe Furino in the 1970s and 1980s. Little Furino, from Palermo in Sicily, ran himself into the ground in order to get the ball to a succession of playmakers such as Franco Causio, Liam Brady and Michel Platini. Yet Furino was not a one-dimensional player. Team-mate Marco Tardelli called him ‘the most tactically intelligent player I have ever seen. He was always close to the ball.’

Winning at all Costs: A Scandalous history of Italian Soccer, John Foot. pg 148

A mediano doesn’t revel in personal glory. But their trophy cabinets are flush with silver.

The life of a mediano was thus a melancholic one. They were always destined to be the supporting act, straight men, water carriers. They could never be stars and would remain forever in the shadow of their more skillful colleagues. Furino won a record eight titles with Juventus in the 1970s and 1980s, but is rarely mentioned in accounts of those years.

Winning at all Costs: A Scandalous history of Italian Soccer, John Foot. pg 148

Beppe Furino and water carriers like him are tactical survivors. No matter the era, they remain relevant.

4-Panel Friday: Johnny Appleseed



I’m only now starting to dig into Paul Buhle and Noah Van Sciver’s Johnny Appleseed.

Johnny Appleseed was the original American hipster. He traveled across the United States on foot. He kept a rockin’ beard. And he lived with minimal possessions.

His ideas and legend spread. Not by an instant digital network, but through conversations, tall tales, and the written word.

Autumn through the eyes of Cartoonists


I’m on a quest to document Autumn.

These cartoonists helped me out:


This piece came from an Ivan Brunetti exercise in his book Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice.

Hey, a single leaf on a naked tree still counts as Autumn.


The late Richard Thompson is still underrated.

I must be reading the wrong articles because his name isn’t mentioned enough amongst the great cartoonists.

He also cleared up for us why they tie trees up…

From: Cul de Sac: This Exit


Only John Porcellino could’ve captured Thoreau at Walden properly in comic form.


What have these cartoonists taught us?

The place to enjoy Autumn is outside.

Walt Whitman: Great are the Myths pt.5

Great are yourself and myself,

We are just as good and bad as the oldest and youngest

or any,

What the best and worst did we could do,

What they felt..do we not feel it in ourselves?

What they wished..do we not wish the same?

Was Walt Whitman a stoic?

Parts of this poem make it seem so. I need to research his biography to learn more.

Follow up soon…

From: Leaves of Grass 150th Anniversary Edition (Penguin Classics), pg.156,157

Sheila Heti: Story Machine

From the Paris Review’s video series – My First Time

Sheila’s original ambition was to become a playwright. She started writing stories after being kicked out/quitting theater school.

To master the writing process, Sheila would sit and write 6 or 7 stories in a row, as fast as she could type. Her thought was if she wrote hundreds of stories, then 20 or 30 would be good, exactly how they were written.

Sheila is all about lists.

She’d write down lists of titles of all the fables she could find. For the title of her first book, she wrote down hundres of titles to generate ideas.

She’d also sketch out book covers with the titles in them, to help visualize the finished book.

Parting words:

I have to work harder than any other writer in the world. I just wanted so badly to figure this out. To figure out how to write.

Sheila Heti

4-Panel Friday: The Explorers Guild Volume 1


The Explorers Guild is unique.

It’s structure, pages of prose intertwined with pages of comics, is a format I’ve never seen before.

Most of the comic’s layouts follow this 4 panel design. Illustrator Rick Ross‘s (No. Not that Rick Ross) draftsmanship scales this restraint, bringing the characters to life. The actions and emotions of the characters are believable, despite the limitations.

Check it out here.