On writing

on writing

There is a formula – but no, there isn’t. There is only the story. But what makes a story a story? That has been the question.

It seems to be like architecture: The story has a foundation and is made of building blocks.

Why am I telling this story? Know that answer and the rest is simple execution – except for the fact, of course, that nothing is simple.

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Why it’s called an album

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Once upon a time, people collected their photographs into albums – bound books with a heavy paper that could stand up to glue and provide a sturdy support for the collection. At some point, as records grew in popularity and we needed a convenient way to store them, someone came up with the idea of a record album – bound books of heavy envelopes, each with a hole in the middle so you could read the labels.

Record manufacturers saw the potential of producing their own collections: Three- and four-record sets by a single artist, or for classical lovers, a complete symphony in one set of records. (A 10-inch 78 rpm record could fit about three minutes of music or so, and a 12-inch record could handle a little more than four.)

I was pleased with myself the first time I looked at a photo album and an old record album and realized where the word “album” came from, having grown up in the era where an “album” was now a single (usually) 12-inch record, the engineers having figured out how to retain fidelity at a mere 33 1/3 revolutions per minute. And they still call them albums in a world where collections of a dozen or more songs take up tiny bits on a pocket device.