I’m finishing a book at the moment, and I recently discovered that I hate a chapter title. Hate it. Loathe it. Despise it. Hate hate hate it. Were it alive, I would kill it, then do everything in my power to bring it back to life, just so I could kill it again.
At this past residency in Vermont, a few faculty members were sitting around before a meeting, talking about nothing in particular, and then one of us, for whatever reason that made sense in the moment, was describing a scene in
I once met a newly-retired cereal executive who asked me what I did for a living. I said I was a writer. He said, hey, what a coincidence, he was thinking of becoming a writer. “Hey, what a coincidence,” I
I’ve long thought that the two most difficult parts of writing are sitting down and standing up. The reasons for the difficulty-in-getting-yourself-to-sit-down-to-write part are myriad, as anyone who has ever tried to write can attest. The standing-up part, though, might
A friend was becoming famous. He was, like most of my friends, a writer, and his writing was appearing in more and more prestigious places and gaining more and more attention. He deserved success. I can say that now. But
Goddard College MFAW faculty Richard Panek: When I think about giving thanks, I don’t think about what or whom I’m thanking. The feeling is more a sense of general gratitude, even relief; it’s a reminder to myself to be aware of what’s good—an exercise that has become more poignant in recent days.
When my younger son was in high school, my wife and I realized we would need to hire a tutor for his French class. Sometimes I would overhear their lesson, and I would think: He’s hopeless. I didn’t mean that word
By Richard Panek The middle finger of Galileo’s right hand is a satisfying sight. Not because the resemblance to an obscene gesture is unmistakable (though that’s pretty amusing). And not because such a gesture might suggest that in the end a scientist who suffered
By Richard Panek Two years ago I wrote an essay for another website, lastwordonnothing.com, that I called “Love Story,” and for the opening I paraphrased the opening of the novel of the same name: “What can you say about a fifty-seven-year-old book that
By Richard Panek You’d think a wall panel in the Galileo gallery in the Galileo wing of the Galileo Museum would be a good place to get an accurate context for Galileo’s historical significance. You’d be wrong: “These astronomical discoveries
By Richard Panek The doctor was sitting in a chair next to the window, gazing out. His features gave nothing away, save serious thought. I watched him from my hospital bed, trying to discern meaning in his own effort to
Tonight the 2015 Major League Baseball season opens at Chicago’s Wrigley Field with a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the host Chicago Cubs. This essay originally appeared a year ago on The Last Word on Nothing, a science writers’ collective, in
By Richard Panek How could it happen? Was it the wrath of God or the malice of Poland? Was the crew drunk or was the Vasa wrongly built? The town was alive with rumours. I’ll bet it was. On August
(This essay was the author’s faculty reading at a recent MFAW-VT residency. It commemorates an event that happened 51 years ago this week.) By Richard Panek I was watching the Beatles on “Ed Sullivan” recently when I got to thinking
By Richard Panek The 16-year-old student has an idea, but she doesn’t have the maths to support it. She does, however, have a drawing. She submits it to her tutor. He examines it, then delivers his verdict. “This is not