Publishing, Brains, Scorsese & Lebowitz, TikTok, Poetry

A weekly selection of fine writing from Conked.


Update from Rand

It's been an interesting week. I've mentioned On Deck before. As part of the OD Writer Fellowship, I am in a writers' group of ten very smart writers. This week I shared the Prologue for my true crime novel with the group. Everyone gave incredibly insightful input and I have made a few edits as a result. It was always my experience as a Gartner analyst, that my research papers were significantly improved by rigorous peer review. I am glad to report that the peer review process is alive and well outside of the research and advisory scenario. The biggest take out from the group session for me was the divide in understanding of the complexity of South Africa. One of the group is South African and he got the overall setting and story immediately. For the others, the cultural, violence-prone nature and apartheid history was not so apparent. This true-crime book is focused on an international audience as it has a universal message. For example, while the book is set thirty years ago, it could very well play out in any number of towns in the US right now, today! Context setting will be paramount to ensure the book is relatable to as wide an audience as possible globally.

How I wrote a book and got it published

Mick Liubinskas | Substack | 05 FEBRUARY 2021

When Mick Liubinskas set out to write a book, he had no idea how long or involved the process would be. He achieved that goal in 2020 and shares what he learned along the way and what he would do differently now he has the benefit of experience. Working in tech and the father of two young daughters, he was acutely aware of the lack of gender diversity and realised he wanted to write a book aimed at teenage girls about building robots. He planned the book, researched the readership, created time in his life to write and tested the concept. Finding a publisher was the next big challenge. (3,901 words)

Brain’s ‘Background Noise’ May Hold Clues to Persistent Mysteries

Elizabeth Landau | Quanta Magazine | 8 FEBRUARY 2021

A presentation last year at a sleep research symposium hinted that brain 'noise', a neural activity that scientists may ignore, hold vital implications for how the brain itself works. Within that 'noise' are clues to the mysteries of how we age, sleep and more. Neuroscientists have spent years looking into changes in electrical noise as people age, and how scientists should examine their data. As the brain gets older, there is more white noise dominating and some connections to link it to memory decline. But aperiodic signals can also help measure the state of consciousness of a patient - key information for anaesthetists or those treating coma patients. (2,846 words)

Fran Lebowitz on Netflix is the most Netflix thing ever

Raf Richardson-Carillo | Literary Hub | 8 FEBRUARY 2021

Martin Scorsese and Fran Lebowitz have made a limited series together, Pretend It's a City. Intercut with film of theatre appearances they have conducted together, we rarely see Scorsese although he probably asked some questions to allow Lebowitz to share her anecdotes, most of life in Manhattan. With over fifty years spent living in the city, Lebowitz shares her observations and she is as much the city as the city is her. "She’s always here; she’s always been here." Although Scorsese presents this as seven episodes with themes and titles, part of the pleasure is you can watch this in any order if you wish, and still enjoy it as much. (537 words)

New in TikTok trends: A ten-year-old self-help book?

Walker Caplan | Literary Hub | 8 FEBRUARY 2021

TikTok users have created many trends, launching new artistic careers and introducing older art to a new following. Fleetwood Mac's Rumours album raced back into the Billboard's top 10 thanks to a viral video and a TikTok personality's fame resulted in a book deal. But this time the trend is quite old-school - a book on relationships first published in 2002. Since TikTok users have been sharing their love for Why Men Love Bitches: From Doormat to Dreamgirl—A Woman’s Guide to Holding Her Own in a Relationship, the book has re-entered the Sunday Times bestseller list and the hashtag #whymenlovebitches has been used over 9.5 million times on TikTok. (242 words)

When Talking About Poetry Online Goes Very Wrong

Wayne Miller | Literary Hub | 8 FEBRUARY 2021

Poet, editor and teacher Wayne Miller reflects on the Irish poet Ciaran Carson and his well-known phrase "Everything happens in a small back room". This small back room means spaces of intimacy where 'everything' occurs, whether it is creativity, companionship, conversation or music. Miller compares this to social media and how it can no longer be an intimate place, a small back room, as it gathers multitudes of poets together, all with disparate views and opinions. When someone is attacked on social media, it may be a form of performance and way to grow one's own visibility and brand. (3,643 words)


“A poet’s work … to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it from going to sleep.”

Salman Rushdie

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Rand Leeb-du Toit, Conkerer

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