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I had a professor once, an astounding political philosopher, who promised the whole class we would all be more interesting people if we did this one thing every day: read the New York Times.

I did this for that semester and barely had time to eat because of it. The New York Times is really long and Professor Fancy Pants forgot to mention the whole scanning-most-articles tactic. I read every word of every article. Like watching the sun rise, I kept waiting for that magical moment when I’d be more interesting. Still waiting.

Even today, I can’t bare to scan articles so I’ve limited my newspaper-buying love/budget to the Sunday paper. The thing is a tomb, great for squirreling away most of it to read throughout the week. I keep my sections in neat piles where else, but on the floor in the middle of the room. I understand some people consider piles clutter, but to me this is organization at its most intuitive. There’s no way I’ll forget to read the paper if I’m tripping over it everyday.

All this is to explain why I’ve only recently read The Joy of Quiet by Pico Iyer. The nature of this story makes it an odd one to read online, but who cares. It’s not to be missed.

I love what he has to stay about the value of disconnecting from the media, technology and other people’s ideas. It seems so simple, but it bears repeating.

Iyer has much to offer, but what he doesn’t share is how he writes. He mentions that he doesn’t go online until he finishes the day’s writing, but I wonder need to know if he types or drafts by hand. If he drafts by hand, how does he cope with the anxiety that a rain cloud will open up right over his manuscript? He seems to me like someone who would type, no?

I’m eight notepads into the first draft of a novel and extremely paranoid something is going to happen to my work. For now they’re bundled together and wrapped in four layers of plastic. At night, they go under the bed. When I travel, they weigh down my suitcase and take up half the space in my carry-on. This feels a little eccentric, but I can’t figure out an alternative short of scanning every page and my imaginary assistant refuses to do that for me. Should I fire her?

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