Top 50 Things of 2014

Here’s a list of my favorite people, new ideas, oft-repeated quotes, sticky thoughts, bookmarked articles and more that I fell in love with this year:

  1. Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow: “You think with your body, not only your brain.”
  2. Jonathan Franzen on social media, technology, the internet, and being a writer: “As a writer, I’m trying to pay attention to stuff the people aren’t paying attention to.  I’m trying to monitor my own soul as carefully as I can and find ways to express what I find there.”
  3. Robert Anton Wilson:  “The ultimate weapon isn’t this plague out in Vegas, or any new super H-bomb. The ultimate weapon has always existed. Every man, every woman, and every child owns it. It’s the ability to say No and take the consequences.”
  4. William Deresiewicz in “The End of Solitude“:  “Loneliness is not the absence of company, it is grief over that absence.”
  5. Reading my first graphic novel, Charles Burns’ Blackhole.
  6. Jonathan Franzen’s How To Be Alone made me want to be a better writer.
  7. Michael A. Singer’s The Untethered Soul blew my mind:  “You are not the voice of the mind — you are the one who hears it.”
  8. My favorite new word of the year — Zibaldone.
  9. Discovering Austin Kleon via Maria Popova.  Stole the idea for this post from him.
  10. Austin Kleon from Show Your Work:  “Share what you love, and the people who love the same things will find you.”
  11. Austin Kleon from Steal Like an Artist:  “There’s only stuff worth stealing and stuff that’s not worth stealing.”
  12. Austin Kleon from Steal Like an Artist again”:  “Chew on one thinker — writer, artist, activist, role model — you really love.  Study everything there is to know about that thinker.  Then find 3 people that thinker loved and find out everything about them.  Repeat this as many times as you can.”
  13. Austin Kleon from Steal Like an Artist one more time:  “Google everything.  I mean everything.  Google your dreams, Google your problems.  Don’t ask a question before you Google it.  You’ll either find the answer or you’ll come up with a better question.  Don’t worry about doing research.  Just search.”
  14. Failure + Commitment = Inspiration?
  15. Learned the most this year from What Should We Be Worried About?
  16. Discovering artist Lynda Barry via Austin Kleon.
  17. Reading my first e-book, Paula Fox’s Desperate Characters.
  18. Falling in love with Netflix and shows like Community, The Good Wife, and Portlandia (I love that theme song).
  19. Discovering Kenneth Goldsmith via Austin Kleon:  “Pointing at the best information trumps creating the best information.”
  20. Maria Popova on creative work:  “The real work is how not to hang your self-worth, your sense of success and merits, the fullness of your heart, and the stability of your soul on those numbers—on that constant positive reinforcement and external validation.”  Who was inspired by …
  21. Lewis Hyde on giving and art:  “Where there is no gift, there is no art.”
  22. David Sedaris on self-promotion: “The way to get:  don’t ask.”
  23. Discovering Adam Phillips in this interview:  “I would want a world in which there is less art and better relationships.”
  24. And Adam Phillips in this interview :  “…you can’t write differently, even if you want to. You just have to be able to notice when you are boring yourself.”
  25. Toni Morrison on racism.
  26. James Baldwin on racism.
  27. James Baldwin on heroes.
  28. James Baldwin on life and writing:  “Find a way to keep alive and write.”
  29. What is the emu doing on that street at night?
  30. The story of the North Pond Hermit.
  31. Discovering Heather Havrilesky a.k.a. Ask Polly.
  32. Learning how movies are made in Sidney Lumet’s Making Movies via Austin Kleon
  33. Darius Kazemi’s talk on creative work.
  34. Victoria Safford on hope.
  35. Discovering Clayton Cubitt via Austin Kleon:  “Find the thing in you that is different, that’s as sharp as a diamond and jagged as a razor. Hone that, because that’s the thing with which you’ll cut the world.”
  36. Loved and related to this piece on struggling as a writer by Michelle Dean: “… It feels like I am trying to soak the last bits of moisture in a well up with a disintegrating washcloth. Where once putting down the words was like bailing myself out of the rising groundwater, now it’s all reaching and struggle and hard work.”
  37. Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist.  If you’re confused about race, feminism, or gender, you should read it.  Read it even if you’re not confused.
  38. I wouldn’t have been as well-informed this year without The Dish.  This letter by a reader about being hit as a kid is powerful and extremely well-written.
  39. Bought my first book (for myself) in over 10 years a couple of weeks ago — David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.
  40. The best writing advice was from Steven Pressfield:  “Nobody wants to read your shit.”
  41. “Feelings aren’t facts, except they kind of are.” — @sosadtoday
  42. Seth Godin on trust:  “The digital asset that matters is trust.”
  43. Fran Lebowitz here: “No one earns a billion dollars. People earn $10 an hour, people steal a billion dollars.”
  44. Fran Lebowitz here:  “All contemplation of oneself is unpleasant — even contemplation of one’s ideas is fairly nerve-wracking — and that’s what writing is.”
  45. This piece on a word I use often, douche, is perfect.
  46. More men are sporting beards and I love it.  “Girls like Justin Bieber.  Women love beards.” — MMA Fighter Travis Browne.
  47. This Chris Rock interview.
  48. This article written by Chris Rock.
  49. Austin Kleon’s answer to my question.
  50. As I was compiling this list, I read this by Wasted Rita:  “If you are able to cut down last year into best or worst of lists, you didn’t do it right.”

All I can guarantee for next year on my blog is more links.

Happy New Year!

MM

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