If you’re like me, you’re always looking for new ways to write more effectively. Not am I only under three contracts for three different books (yes, a wonderful problem to have) and thinking about a fourth, but I also write weekly for The Imaginative Conservative and The American Conservative.
And, when time permits, I review my favorite rock music at Progarchy. And, yes, like most folks, I have a novel in the works. We’ll see where that goes!
While writing is my passion, it’s still a lot of writing, to be certain.
My problem–and, yes, I have a problem–is that I let the internet distract me too much. I’ll be in the middle of writing something, and I immediately want to follow up on idea (any idea that strikes my fancy) through a google search, check my email, or tweet something important or absurd. Each time I allow myself to move away from my writing, it takes me close to 30 minutes or more to get back into my train of thought. And, then, of course, every temptation to look elsewhere returns with a vengeance. It’s a never ending process.
At the moment, my best laptop tool of choice is a program called Freedom–which allows me to shut down the internet (completely) for as long as I want. I can set it for an hour or more. It’s a great program.
When I really need just to write, though, I always turn to my Freewrite by Astrohaus. I’ve reviewed it elsewhere, but, suffice it to state here, it’s a progressively retro and perfectly crafted piece of technology. A computerized typewriter, if you will, without the social media and other distractions. When you type something, it is save directly to a Postbox account, available anytime and anywhere, ready for editing and submitting.
Yesterday, Astrohaus announced its followup product, the Freewrite Traveler. It’s the Freewrite, but with a much better battery life and immense portability. And, yes, I ordered one. In fact, I was order #29, and I’m rather proud of that. Granted, I won’t actually get the Traveler until its official release early next summer, but it will be worth the wait.
If you’re a writer–professionally or academically–this is, simply put, a must own. Just watch the video, and you’ll immediately see how much excellence these guys put into the product–from its design to its effectiveness. The thing is a thing of beauty, a wonder.
The Importance of Marcus Tullius Cicero
Brief timeline of Cicero
106B.C.: born in Arpinum
81: Cicero writes Topics for Speechesand begins his profession as an Advocate (lawyer)
79: Cicero marries
79-77: Tours Greece and Asia Minor
75: Becomes a Senator
63: Elected Consul; had to stop—and did—Cataline’s radical revolutionary movement
58-57: Cicero exiled to Greece
52-42: Cicero writes On the Law
45: Cicero writes On Good and Evil; The Nature of the Gods
44: Cicero writes On Duties
43: Triumvirs (the Second Triumvirate) massacred 300 Senators and 2,000 equites (representatives), including Cicero.
Importance of Cicero
- Most important figure of his day. Historians refer to the era of his life as “The Ciceronian Age.” He was, in essence, the embodiment of the Republic. As Russell Kirk has written, “With Cicero fell the Republic.” [Kirk, Roots, 107]
- Perhaps the greatest orator who ever lived. Gave 106 famous orations.
- Perhaps the greatest Latin prose stylist, ever. Several books and 900 of his letters survive.
- Arguments for the Natural Law, beauty, decorum, and republican government (the four issues are inseparable, one from another) are some of the best ever articulated. “True law is right reason in agreement with Nature. . . . it is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting; it summons to duty by its commands, and averts from wrong-doing by its prohibitions. And it does not lay its commands or prohibitions upon good men in vain, although neither have any effect upon the wicked. It is a sin to try and alter this law, nor it is allowable to attempt to repeal a part of it, and it is impossible to abolish it entirely. We cannot be freed from its obligations by Senate or People, and we need not look outside ourselves for an expounder or interpreter of it. And there will not be different laws at Rome and at Athens, or different laws now and in the future, but one eternal and unchangeable law will be valid for all nations and for all times, and there will be one master and one rule, that is, God, over us all, for He is the author of this law, its promulgator, and its enforcing judge.”
- “A human being, [sic] was endowed by the supreme god with a grand status at the time of its creation. It alone of all types and varieties of animate creatures has a share in reason and thought, which all the others lack. What is there, not just in humans, but in all heaven and earth, more divine that reason? When it has matured and come to perfection, it is properly named wisdom. . . reason forms the first bond between human and god,” the Roman Republican Cicero wrote in On the Laws[Cicero, On the Laws, Book 1].
- The single most influential Roman on the Church fathers: Sts. Ambrose, Jerome, and Augustine.
- The single most influential Roman for the American Founding Fathers. One can trace the American conception of Natural Rights directly to Cicero’s understanding of the Natural Law. John Adams once admitted in his diary that he loved reciting Cicero’s orations as much as anything: “The Sweetness and Grandeur of his sounds, and the Harmony of his Numbers give Pleasure enough to reward the Reading if one understood none of his meaning. Besides, I find it a noble Exercise. It exercises my Lungs, raises my Spirits, opens my Porrs, quickens the Circulation, and so contributes to [my] Health” [Richard, Twelve Greeks and Romans, 187]. Charles Carroll of Carrollton considered him the greatest of ancients. After the person and teaching of Jesus Christ, he once wrote, give me the words of Cicero. He considered Cicero a constant companion in his life.
- Cicero considered himself a “New Academician,” allied with the Stoics, though he became increasingly stoic with age, especially in ethics, law, and metaphysics.
My department chair, Dr. Mark Kalthoff, graciously invited me to speak on my In Defense of Andrew Jackson book at Hillsdale College tonight. I had a great time. If you’re interested, here’s my lecture.
My thoughts on Ray Bradbury over at The American Conservative.
Bradbury’s talents also interested the governmental agency set up to destroy the U.S. Constitution in the name of protecting it, the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Demonstrating a level of buffoonery perhaps unprecedented in its history, the FBI opened an ongoing investigation of Bradbury, fearing his literature as subversive and, bizarrely, possibly communist. An informant told the FBI that Bradbury “was probably sympathetic with certain pro-Communist elements.” The evidence? At a meeting of screen writers, some members asked openly whether or not to ostracize members of the Communist Party as well as those who embraced the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution from their discussion. In a not atypical fit of passion, Bradbury stood and shouted at his fellow members, claiming them to be a lot of “Cowards and McCarthyites.”