Waiting for the Weekend

Rybczynski, W. (1991). Waiting for the weekend. New York, N.Y., U.S.A.: Viking.

The days that make us happy make us wise. – John Masefield

Chesterton argued that a man compelled by lack of choice – or by social pressure – to pay golf in the afternoon, when he would rather be attending to some solitary hobby,w as not so different from the slave who might have several hours of leisure while his overseer slept but who had to her easy to work at a moment’s notice. Neither could be said to be the master of his leisure. They had free time, but not freedom. 17

fatigue at work appears to be the function of a great many associated factors such as working conditions (lighting, ventilation, noise), the degree of worker involvement, and the nature of the work, particularly if it is monotonous. 58

leisure was also a way of asserting status in a public way – hence the popularity of such pastimes such as fox hunting and shooting, which by law and custom were unavailable to ordinary people. 102

Chesterton maintained that the truest form of leisure was the freedom to do nothing. This was precisely the choice that the worker who kept Saint Monday made. This invoked not only taking a particular day off but also the idea that it was the individual who was the master of his – and more rarely, her – leisure. 118

So-called short Saturdays began with the Typographichical Union, which represented workers in printing and in the newspaper and book trades. 134

Even Sunday was not a compulsory holiday; not until the early 1990s was legislation passed limiting the length of the workweek to six days. 149

Solitary readings the ideal vehicle for individual pleasure. The reader can do something  or nothing. He can pick up one book or another. He sets the pace, reading uninterruptedly or leafing through a book at random, letting his imagination free to make what connections it will. Reading requires long periods of calm 191

Watching television, on the other hand, is focused, structured and scheduled. Commercial breaks occur at preordained intervals. If the attention is distracted, the story line is lost; one cannot move in and out at will. Freedom, a key ingredient of leisure, is missing. 193

The capacity to be alone is a valuable character trait, often associated with creative individuals. But it may have a broader application. Anthony Storr, a psychiatrist who has written about the importance of solitude in the development of creativity, maintains that any balanced person will find the meaning of his life not only in his interpersonal relationships with family and friends but also in the solitary pursuit of personal interests. 209

Leisure has always been partly a refuge from labor. The weekend, too is a retreat from work, but in a different way: a retreat from the abstract and the universal to the local and the particular. 232

On Writing Well

Zinsser, W. (1980). On writing well: An informal guide to writing nonfiction (2d ed.). New York: Harper and Row.

I urge people to write in the first person: to use “I” and “me” and “we” and “us”. They put up a fight. 22

Don’t say you were a bit confused and sort of tired and a little depressed and somewhat annoyed. Be confused. Be tired. Be depressed. Be annoyed. Don’t hedge your prose with little timidities. Good writing is lean and confident. 70

Describing how a process works is valuable for two reasons. It forces you to make sure you know how it works. Then it forces you to take the reader through the same sequence of ideas and deductions that made the process clear to you. 149

I stop reading writers who say “You see”. 232

By reading other writers you also plug yourself into a longer tradition that enriches you. 236

Writing is related to character. If your values are sound, your writing will be sound. It all begins with intuition Figure out what you want to do and how you want to do it, and work your way with humanity and integrity to the completed article. Then you’ll have something to sell. 260

Take your talent as far as you can and guard it with you life … Writing well means believing in your writing and believing in yourself, taking risks, daring to be different, pushing yourself to excel. You will write only as well as you make yourself write. 302