Work Spaces.

by Dick Loftin.

I have always been interested in the places where creative people work. ¬†This came to me from a feed on StumbleUpon, so I’m not sure of the original source, but it is a great look into the world of 42 creative people.

Read it Here. 



“The Reading Pile.”

David McCullough working in his 'writing shed' with his Royal KMM typewriter. Photo from

David McCullough working in his ‘writing shed’ with his Royal KMM typewriter. Photo from

by Dick Loftin.

I have little and not-so-little piles of clippings, articles and interviews of writers I respect. When I need some inspiration, or simply want something to read just to relax a bit, I’ll get into the pile and pull something out. The other evening, I came across a Paris Review interview from 1999 with author David McCullough, arguably one of America’s greatest historians. Let me say here, that for me, he is America’s greatest historian. He rekindled my interest in history, in books and in writing. I hang on every word he says. He has written ten books since 1968. All of them on his 1940’s era Royal KMM typewriter and all of them are still in print.

Several years ago, Mr. McCullough gave a speech at the Harry Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri. My wife and I went up to hear him speak, and it was truly a wonderful experience. I had read his “John Adams” and Truman biographies, and through McCullough’s work, I learned more about writing, how to write, and what to write, and how history is really storytelling. The subjects of history were as alive then as we are now. We tend to look at historical figures as people from ‘the past,’ – it made me wonder – what about us? At some point, we are living in ‘the past’ right now. So, Jefferson, Adams, Washington, Lincoln became real to me, as living, breathing human beings any time I would read stories about them. Their stories are our stories.

In the Paris Review interview, David McCullough talks about his love of history, how he writes, how he does his research, rewriting and polishing and how important it is to read out loud what you have written. You have the ‘hear’ what you write.

It’s a terrific interview, doesn’t take much time to read and you’ll get a lot out of it. Enjoy.

Read the Paris Review interview with David McCullough from Fall 1999, Here.

“Here it comes… Keith Richards Writes a Book for Kids.”


Keith Richards’ new book “Gus and Me,” to be released in September. Image from

by Dick Loftin.

Rolling Stone Keith Richards has written another book. This one is for kids. Set for release on September 9, it tells the story about how as a boy, Keith discovered his love of music with the help of his granddad. It will be published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

Read the story from the Guardian, Here, and from the New York Times ‘Artbeat’ blog, Here.

Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin and her books.

by Dick Loftin.

Respected historian Doris Kearns Goodwin was profiled in a recent issue of the Wall Street Journal. There were pictures of her home, and her wall-to-wall books. She’s my kind of book lover; as she acquires more books, she simply adds on shelves to her home to store them. An excellent profile of a remarkable writer.

Read the January 17, 2014, piece from the Wall Street Journal, Here.

Two Compelling Reviews of “The Letters of Robert Frost, Volume 1, 1886-1920.”

'The Letters of Robert Frost, Volume 1, 1886-1920,' Harvard University Press

‘The Letters of Robert Frost, Volume 1, 1886-1920,’ Harvard University Press

by Dick Loftin.

Letters can be tricky. They are written in private, intended for no other eyes except the recipient, and can reveal our most unguarded and possibly reckless moments. So many of us have uncountable things we have said that we wish we could pull back into our mouths, only to have it slip out. Imagine how one can cut loose in a letter. Some letters would be thought of as important to history only to have them burned and left to smoke. Bess Truman and Martha Washington burned their personal letters, much to the dismay of historians and family members, but it brings to account the depth of privacy often laid out in letters. They can be tricky, they can be difficult, they can be a little too truthful. Why on earth would one want to have them published?

For years of my reading life I thought it wouldn’t be very interesting to read someone else’s mail. Why would I want to? They weren’t written for me. But it wasn’t until I read some of the letters of Robert Lowell that I became interested in this common form of communication. I have been reading the Letters of William Styron, and now I have grown to appreciate what letters are to literature and what they can reveal about the writer and the people they have written to. I realized I would have liked to have known Styron. Very much.

Now, ‘The Letters of Robert Frost, Volume 1, 1886-1920,’ have been published. This is a big book of over 800 pages. In these two reviews, from the Wall Street Journal and the New Yorker, the life of the poet takes shape in his struggle to get his writing career off the ground, while making his way around the people near him.

In the Journal review, Christian Wiman quotes a letter written by Frost from 1914. It discusses how important it is to write for the ear. How people, even while reading, are ‘listening’ at the same time. I have long held the view that we write for people to listen, and when I discuss writing with others, I always tell them to read their work out loud. By doing that, flow and structure will reveal itself, and you will find out quickly if what you have written makes any sense in the first place. Frost writes, “The ear is the only true writer and the only true reader.” This is as true a statement about the writing craft that I have found in some time.

Links for the Wall Street Journal review and the New Yorker are below. Enjoy.

Read the New Yorker review [February 10, 2014] by Dan Chaisson, Here.

Read the Wall Street Journal review [February 22-23, 2014] by Christian Wiman, Here.

Wikipedia profile of Robert Frost, Here.

Publishers page of ‘The Letters of Robert Frost,’ Harvard University Press, Here.

“Harper Lee Settles Lawsuit with Museum.”

Harper Lee. From USA Today.

Harper Lee. From USA Today.


by Dick Loftin.

Harper Lee, the author of “To Kill a Mockingbird” has settled a lawsuit with Old Courthouse Museum in Monroeville, Alabama over trademark issues. Monroeville is the author’s hometown and was the inspiration for the novel. The issue was over unlicensed merchandise trading on the “Mockingbird” name. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

Read the story from February 19, 2014, issue of USA Today, Here.


“Your E-Reader is Watching You.”

Nook E-Reader. Photo by Endpaper Review.

Nook E-Reader. Photo by Endpaper Review.


by Dick Loftin.

So, you sit down with your e-reader for a quiet night of rest and relaxation alone with a good book. Not so fast. You’re not alone. Your e-reader is watching you. An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal tracks the use of e-readers, what people are reading, and what the e-reader is saying about your reading habits. The takeaway for me was the growth in e-reader activity–or lack of it. 23% of readers read an e-book in 2012, 28% in 2013. That’s only 5% growth. That sounds a little light to me, since the story also says half the population in the U.S. owns an e-reader, including me, but I don’t use it much. Maybe e-readers still haven’t caught on yet. I think e-readers are tools of convenience. I think people are more likely to use an e-reader when traveling or when they know they will have some time to kill, waiting for a doctor’s appointment, for example. You can quickly change from poetry to fiction, depending on your mood. It will be interesting to see how it plays out in 2014.

“What Your I-pad Knows About You,” From the Wall Street Journal, February 19, 2014. Read it Here.