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Scott Lax Blog

Libraries

Finn at the library (photo by Lydia)
One of the best things about living in our village is that we're a few blocks from our local library. Finn loves the library and never wants to leave. Here he's made friends with a stuffed gorilla and is examine the toy train tracks. Right after this he made some friends and, well, we closed down the joint (at 6 PM), but not before we stocked up on videos and books. I borrowed biographies of Hemingway and of Thomas Jefferson and his later years.  Read More 

Two Years Finn in the World

Finn turned two today. He's given my world so much meaning. I'm too exhausted to post more because the day has been about Finn and work and Finn's birthday. I love you, my son.
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Milestone

Finn's first haircut, just before his second birthday (tomorrow). He loved it. Lydia and big brother Angus took him, and there were no tears. (Good thing they didn't take me.)

Finn in Snow

The snow lover
Finn loves snow. He wants to go out in in, no matter how much there is, no matter how cold it is. He never wants to come in, so when I sense it's been too long, I scoop him up and bring him in. Here he's covered in snow, having fallen in it and laughed and laughed. He's a snow toddler, which is wonderful for me, as I like being out in the snow, as well. I think this is something a child is born with; he does have a good deal of Norwegian heritage, so maybe that's it. Whatever it is, he can't get enough of it, he has so much fun in it.  Read More 

Merry Christmas

Christmas wonder
Last week we took Finn to see Santa and real reindeer. He wanted to get in the pen with the reindeer, which would make sense; they come from the country of two of his great-grandparents, Norway. This week we took him to see our local "Holly Hall," where here he is lost in the world of the magic of a train set and its village. And so, in these difficult days, with so much heartache in the country over innocence lost, there is innocence and wonder still. Merry Christmas from our family to yours.  Read More 

Why You Might Consider Writing by Hand (now and then)

My son, Finn, loves to write. His loops and lines are wonderful.
I can’t imagine my life without some measure of writing by hand. While I use my laptop and smart phone nearly everyday for professional and writing purposes – emails, Internet research for stories, fiction, nonfiction, corporate communications and blogging – there are things that a computer will never be able to do that writing by hand accomplishes, at least for me.

I write with pen and ink on paper daily in a journal: for To Do lists, note-taking, for ideas and prose; and with a pencil in a calendar. (An eraser works well as a delete button.) Here are three reasons I think writing by hand is important for those who can do it.

The first is that it connects me directly to the paper, to an ancient medium that’s been used for about 5,000 years. (Does that make writing by hand part of what it means to be human? My archeologist and sociologist friends might be able to answer that.) There’s no uniform font, no spell-check, no automatic formatting. I’m more careful when I write by hand, both with what I write and how I write it – and by that I mean how I physically write it, how it looks, what message it sends. If the words are hurried and messy, and actually look tired, stressed or rushed, that’s pretty much an indicator of my state of mind at the time of writing. If my words are reasonably neat and legible, it tends to mean my thinking and physical state was calmer. A page in a journal becomes a time capsule of my physical and emotional state, as well as of the meaning of the words. (For more on this, you can study handwriting analysis – or graphology – a tool used by many organizations and individuals.)

The second reason is that I tend to remember certain things better when I write them by hand. Notes, dates in a calendar, spur-of-the-moment journal entries: these writings become more of a part of me than if I type them and file them in the on my computer and in the cloud – which is, after all, not a cloud at all, but a series of gigantic servers that someone else controls. There’s something gratifying and secure about knowing that only I see the notebook or calendar I’m using, unless I share it with someone.

The occasions when I’ve used a computer calendar are about the only times I’ve forgotten what day it is. When I use a paper calendar, I tend to see the whole picture, and to remember a given day or week, as well as my appointments. Most importantly, I feel more directly connected.

The third is the human connection of writing by hand and sharing it. There is nothing like sending or getting a hand-written card or letter. The implicit thought and care and time and effort that goes into a letter or card written by hand often says a more than the words themselves. Writing by hand gives you a chance to think about what you want to say; conversely, it may tell you something about how the writer feels about you. Emails, as most of us know, can be the products of short-term rage, or desire, or other extreme emotions…and are all sent at the speed of light. Once they’re sent, they’re sent. Ask General Petraeus. (He would probably admit his bad judgment in such cases.) Or Donald Trump. (He would not, but that’s Donald.)

If you’ve written by hand lately – or even if you haven’t, try it – see if you can compare it to the cursive you wrote when you were in school. If it’s deteriorated – and for modern people, that’s often the case – don’t despair. It’s a skill you can usually get back, like riding a bike or getting off the couch to change a channel on the TV. And like getting off the couch, it takes a little bit more effort. But it’s worth it, at least for me. Try it and see for yourself.  Read More 

A WRITER'S JOURNEY

What could Finn be looking at? What else; who else? His mommy.
I'll be posting soon about my upcoming writing class in the Chagrin Valley -- in the heart of the Village of Chagrin Falls. It's a new venue for me, but I'm back to teaching part-time after a respite of two-and-a half-years. The class begins in January.

The reason I took this break is pictured to the side of this post. Finn Scott. And the look on his face is what I hope to teach my students: how to look at the world with wonder, with awe, with innocence...and then write about it in a new way, taking into account all the baggage they have gathered along the way. Those two things seem opposite, don't they?

With Finn, so much is new. I look at the world through his eyes. Through my own, too, and therein lies the conflict and paradox of a writer's journey. How do you meld the two visions together. F. Scott Fitzgerald said, "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function."

This is true of any good writing. This is what I will try to teach my students. This is what any decent writer must, should struggle with.  Read More 

PORTRAIT OF THE WRITER AS A TODDLER (part two)

Finn put himself on the shelf...completely his idea.
This is the absolutely true story of what Finn did the other night. I went upstairs for a few minutes. Lydia and Finn were downstairs. I heard a fairly usual sound: books falling on the floor. Finn likes to de-shelve and re-shelve books. I heard Lydia call up the stairs: "You have to see this!" I came downstairs and Finn had put himself, completely of his own volition, on the one of the shelves of books. Scroll down to read who Finn de-shelved: literally some of the greatest writers in the English language (not to mention in Spanish and French).  Read More 

THE BOOKS

Finn put himself in very good company
Here's the partial list of the authors Finn took off the shelf that he put himself on:
William Styron, Scott Smith, Ann Hood, Pablo Neruda, William Gaines, Joseph Conrad, Larry Brown, Ron Powers, Cormac McCarthy, Roald Dahl, Peter Mayle, and W. Somerset Maugham.

PORTRAIT OF THE WRITER AS A TODDLER

photo by Lydia
Lately Finn's been jumping on my lap when I get home and writing: a series of loops and swirls and lines that I've no doubt will someday surpass mine.