I tried to throw a flash mob for Parks and Rec after they went on hiatus.
Nobody showed up.
We filmed it anyway!
Watch it two ways! Funny or Die
Oh, hey. The Hunger Games Subway Commercial parody is now on Funny or Die. So, vote funny if you laugh!
It’s Tuesday and time for a new episode of the TMI Minute.
Written by Joe Neuburger and I.
Performed by Afton Quast, Anthony Fanelli, and Rachel Butera
A friend of mine, Briana Hansen, is vlogging her National Novel Writing Month journey. I’m being supportive, as you should be if someone you know is doing it. It’s tough. It’s hard. You need a support structure.
I have the added benefit of having done it myself.
My journey is atypical. The way I write is different from others (everyone’s writing is different). I write novels by hand and I don’t set pen to paper unless I know what the story is, who the characters are, and where it’s going. I spend most of my waking moments planning.
So, when someone says, write a novel in a month, it’s easy. If I have one ready.
My NaNoWriMo experience was a class assignment in college. I finished in 8 days. The whole class hated me. Everyone finished by the end of the month. So, from someone who wrote 55,000 words in 8 days, let me tell you how I did it.
1. Stop worrying
55,000 words is not a novel. These days, a novel is between 75,000 and 100,000. So, writing the NaNoWriMo’s requisite 50,000 is not a whole novel: it’s the bones and muscles without the flesh and clothing. Don’t worry so much about what it looks like. When you reach your goal, set it aside. You can always come back to it later, flesh it out, and dress it up. This is not a polished product. That’s what revision is for.
2. Just go.
Don’t check your word count every ten minutes. Don’t look at the clock every hour. This is a marathon. It’s going to take time. If you’re on a roll, but you’ve already written for your two hours, keep going. Why stop? When you do stop, stop in the middle so you can pick up where you left off and get right back into your flow.
3. There’s no such thing as writer’s block. Unless there is.
There will be a time (maybe more than once) when you sit down with your hands over the keys and you have no idea what comes next. The truth behind writer’s block is that it’s self-doubt rearing it’s ugly head. If you want to do it in 8 days, you turn off your inner editor and squash self-doubt with the power of will (not really; you squash it with the power of blind, speeding momentum). When self-doubt threatens your word count, sit it down and give it a talking to.
Trust your characters. Trust your plot. Trust everything.
Trust that you can always change it later.
4. Ride the wave
Coming from someone who’s written five of them and knowing people who have written more, writing a novel is an emotional roller coaster. Briana is still in the honeymoon period. She’s in love with the idea, she’s in love with the process, she’s in love with everything around it.
There will come a time when you hate it with such utter contempt you can remember why you decided to do it in the first place.
This is natural. Ride the wave. It WILL drag you down, but don’t worry. You’ll get through it. The process of writing a book looks a lot like the hero’s journey. You have a time when the walls are closing in, you have your own dark night of the soul about your project. Remember, at the end, you get to bring your holy grail back to the villagers. And, you’re never the same after you finish.
Don’t do this alone. Seriously. Even if it’s just one friend, get a support structure in place. Writing a book is like being in a relationship: sometimes, you need someone you can vent to.
That’s what I got for all you NaNoWriMo kids. I wish I could have joined you this round, but time does not allow me to.
What are your tips for NaNoWriMo? Tell me about your journey in the comments! And, if you are going through it alone, check out Briana’s vlog and comment.
Why do I keep posting these? Because I write it! Don’t miss the TMI Minute every Tuesday!
Here’s a new episode of the show I write and produce with Joe Neuburger and Julian Clark.
I unapologetically have no time to watch TV when it airs. So, it’s rather surprising that I was able to watch Agents of SHIELD last night.
But, if you know me, perhaps not that surprising. Because I love Agent Coulson. I had a small twinge of jealousy during Avengers when he said there was a cellist in Portland. I nearly ripped my theatre seat out of the ground when Loki stabbed him in the back. I hung on through the movie, thinking, “No body, no death,” the reality of action movies, but the movie ended.
And, seemingly, Coulson ended with it.
Now, as anyone knows, Coulson is back and as quippy as ever. And he comes bearing conspiracy.
The pilot episode explains Coulson’s reappearance as Nick Fury faking our favorite agent’s death to get the Avengers to work as a team. This hypothesis is icky. If Coulson’s death was a fake, it’s ultimately meaningless, considering everything that Coulson stands for. However, Maria Hill and Doc Shepard (Firefly guy) hang on Coulson’s resurrection a little too long. So long, in fact, that we know there’s something rotten in the state of Strategic Homeland Initiative, Enforcement and Logistics Division.
The general agreement is that Agent Phil Coulson of Agents of SHIELD is a life model decoy. I’m not placing my bets on that, but it’s certainly possible.
Any way, the thing that I really wanted to talk about was the definition of heroism. io9.com posed this in their biggest unanswered questions about Agents of SHIELD:
Are all superheroes essentially psychotic?
This seems to be one major theme of the episode — Michael gets superpowers and uses them to help people, just like the Avengers. But he resists doing the whole “costumed hero” thing when Skye suggests it… until he starts to go insane due to the tech in his arm. Then he suddenly starts talking about being a hero, and his mean factory foreman being “the bad guy.” And he tells the nice doctor lady that this is his origin story. So… is the whole idea of being called to heroism just a form of psychosis? Is it essentially sociopathic? At the end of the episode, though, Michael says “it matters who I am,” and Agent Coulson turns that around into a thing where Michael’s real chance for heroism is self-sacrifice — saving the people in the train station from his own spontaneous combustion. (And then luckily, it doesn’t come to that, thanks to Fitzsimmons.)
This is an interesting idea and, while I won’t bet on the true nature of the current Phil Coulson, I would wager that Agents of SHIELD will be addressing a lot of the stigma around heroism. The tagline, after all, is “Not all heroes are super.”
Part of my love of Phil Coulson is this weird grey area he exists in. He’s definitely a hero. In Avengers, he’s the hero that the super-powered aspires to be. He faces a “god” because it’s the right thing to do. At the same time, Coulson absolutely loves his job. Is he just following orders?
Anyway, I would purpose some major unanswered questions of my own:
Will Phil Coulson be in the next Avengers movie?
You can’t just ignore the fact that Coulson is back. While the Marvel cinematic universe just got a little bigger, it’s still very insular. Coulson was the go-to guy on ALL the heroes. He was Thor’s contact, the first man on the job when Tony Stark started suiting up, and even saved Pepper a few times in the first Iron Man film. Not to mention JARVIS could have out with the big secret within 20 seconds of half-assed hacking.
How will the heroes react to it?
They don’t need Coulson anymore. But, if they stick with the cover story that Nick Fury is a liar, well, that’s not real great for team cohesiveness.
Where are the super-powered?
A lot of people wanted the Michael character to be Luke Cage. And, that’s not a bad tactic, introducing Marvel characters less likely to get their own movies into the television universe. However, my thought is that we won’t see any super powers. We’ll be seeing how people in a world with the superpowered deal with not having them. And, that’s pretty much how the series has been billed. Maybe we’ll get these characters later, but I doubt we’ll see supers in the first season outside of artificial ones.
What does this mean for the cinematic universe?
In the comics, all of the Marvel heroes exist in the same universe. X-men, Avengers, Spider-man, they’re all kicking it around in the same world. With 20th Century Fox holding on to X-men and Sony with the iron grip on Spider-man, who knows when these properties will be back together on-screen. Stop celebrating the Batman/Superman movie, give me Spider-man/Human Torch or Wolverine vs. Hulk. One can only hope that competing companies will play nice for the sake of Marvel’s success. But realistically, Coulson might have to die again to make that happen.
I wrote some of this!
I wrote and helped shoot this one.
I have a problem.
I’m not sure if it’s a generational thing. I mean, I’m friends with people from many generations, and it doesn’t strike me as a generational thing. Here it is:
Why doesn’t everyone use Google (or, God forbid, “The Google”)?
There seems to be a subset of humanity that actively refuses to embrace technology. And the thing that really gets me is that technology is supposed to make our lives easier. If it isn’t helping you, don’t use it.
Perhaps this has something to do with our gadget-obsessed society. It’s enough to own the bright, shiny toy. You don’t need to know how to use it. As long as you have it, your position in society is assured. We’ve replaced technological knowledge for the appearance of technological knowledge. “I have a smartphone, but I don’t know how to use it.”
I was so excited when Apple announced the iPad, because it was like someone announcing a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Here was a handheld device (okay, maybe not palm size, but still reasonable) that had an almost guaranteed connection to the Internet. The Internet. The most complete compiling of human information so far. You want it? You can find it. Science fiction became science fact. Grab your towels.
Another thing about the iPad is that it has nearly limitless potential. Want to use it as a gaming device? Go for it. How about a medical aid for nurses and doctors? It can do that, too. I’ve been asked what an iPad does, which baffles me. You can use it as a musical instrument. You can use it to send text messages or talk on Skype. You can use it to create graphs and set up visual aids for meetings. You can use it to scan credit cards for your business. It can’t make you a cup of coffee, but it can tell you where to find some, and it get you one at Starbucks if you add money to the app.
The iPad, while a technological advancement, is also hailing back to the cave man. Here’s a stick. What does it do? It does whatever you can make it do.
Now, not everyone is ready for an iPad. I understand that. If it doesn’t somehow make life easier (again), you don’t need it.
I believe technology is the one of the foundations of human evolution. Before “I have a smartphone, and I don’t know how to use it” was “I have a rock, and I know how to use it.” Those must have been exciting times, when Caveman Jobs held an event with his turtleneck (made out of actual turtle?), and announced the rock. Maybe he was even responsible for the slingshot. Ridiculous scenario or not, human innovation cannot be denied as a major component of our development.
There’s this aspect of my personality that makes me undauntingly curious. If I want to know something, nothing will keep me from it. I will read the books, I will take the classes. If I had more time, I would study everything from Accounting to Yiddish Studies (yeah, it’s a thing) and everything in between. I understand on an intellectual level that not everyone shares this insatiable thirst for knowledge. Fortunately, I’m not related to any of those people. My parents, my siblings, my aunts, uncles, and more, all share my desire to learn.
The Internet is a portal into the garnering of information. (I don’t believe everything I read on the Internet; I’m just saying you can find factual pieces if you know where/how to look).
If I don’t know how to do something, my first instinct is to turn to Google.
Why doesn’t everyone do this?
You know another thing that’s great about Google? You can just type in your question, right into the box, and it gleans your meaning. How? They employ linguists who seem to have the ability to read minds. Their algorithms incorporate data from your history of searches. They look at the way other people have reacted who have performed similar searches. Google is trying to make your life easier. Embrace it.
I think these non-adopters are going to have a problem very shortly. Human technology is evolving alarmingly fast (not that you need to read any books on it). If you can’t keep up now, what happens when everyone is wearing Google Glass? What happens when we develop a way to store our thoughts instantaneously to the cloud?
Human evolution is so closely linked with our development of better tools, it’s possible the swift development of technology could lead to species directed evolution. Yes, our tools now could determine the future of the human race.
So, get on board. The spaceship is leaving without you.
P.S. I’m ready for my nanite injection, Mr. DeMille.
I finished writing a pilot.
It’s the first sitcom pilot I’ve written. My other scripts have all been either sci fi drama pilots or sitcom spec scripts. For those of you outside the TV writing sphere, a spec script is a script for a show that already exists.
It’s sort of weird to talk to writers about writing television shows. Some say it’s easier to write the spec, some say it’s easier to write original material. I don’t really see either as being particularly easier than the other. The hardest thing about writing a spec script (in my personal experience) is writing it for a show that will be relevant in two years. The shows I love (Up All Night, Community, Happy Endings) are all on the brink of death (don’t get me started). Or, they are overwhelming spec’d (everyone’s got their Modern Family script).
So, with this sitcom pilot out of the way, I find myself ready for a new project. More than ready. Chomping at the bit.
Since most of my experience is novel writing, that isn’t always the case. What normally happens is I start querying agents, then I sit around and wait for my rejection letters. But, that’s not really what happens in the screenwriting world. I mean, I could query agents, but that’s not the norm.
The norm is you make friends. Your friends introduce you to producers and agents or friends of producers and agents. Most people (though not all) sell something before they get an agent. So, basically, the answer is, save the file and move on. When you meet someone who can do something with it, whip it out.
It’s a body of work.
The next thing, though. It’s a sci fi drama. And it’s gonna be huge.
The pilot I completed was part of the Completing and Presenting Your Sitcom Pilot class at Second City. There will be an onstage reading of it on April 17th at 6:30pm at Second City Hollywood (there will be two shows read on that night).
What if JK Rowling got writer’s block after Harry Potter 4?
When Arthur Watkins, the main character from a wildly popular young adult series, appears to his author, M.L. Reeves, she has to figure out how to deal with her errant work of fiction while deadlines loom.
I have a dream. I don’t often talk about my dream publicly. I mean, my friends know. And my family knows. And I’m always striving, always working toward that goal. I think I have a sort of weird knock on wood mentality about my dream, like if I say it out loud, it won’t come true. It’s something that I have to keep on the inside, something that’s my own.
Before you think you know what it is, it’s not being a “writer.” Saying I want to be a writer is like saying I want to be biologically classified Homo sapien. I’ve had a problem with the word aspiring for a long time, especially as it pertains to writers. Are you writing? Yes. Are you actively pursuing a career as a writer? Yes. Than you’re a writer. If you label yourself as aspiring, my first assumption is that you’ve never actually finished writing anything that doesn’t begin with the words, “Dear Diary.”
In Hollywood, it’s weird. There’s a “who do you want to be” atmosphere that I finally reached the breaking point with.
So, here are some things I’ve learned about dreaming, straight from Hollywoodland.
1) Celebrate the victories
My dream is huge. It takes a lot of steps. Usually, when someone asks me what my dream is, I only tell them the current plateau I’m headed for. Like “head writer” or “created by.”
I have a problem taking compliments. When someone tells me they like something I’ve written, the dreamer in me reminds me that this isn’t the peak I’ve dreamed. This is a road sign to blow past. But, that’s not really the case. I’m working on celebrating these moments of compliment, because I know where they come from. Rather than answer with an I’m not there yet, I take them in stride and acknowledge and appreciate them.
2) Dreams are hard
When I told people I was moving to Los Angeles to pursue my dream, I got a lot of reactions. Most of them started with “You’re so brave.” I suppose that’s a compliment, but it struck me as odd. I didn’t think I was brave at all. I was simply doing that which was necessary to achieve what I wanted.
So, step two is to understand that some people find out that their dream is hard, and they stop going for it. There are other people that don’t acknowledge that part of their dream. There is no hard, there is only an obstacle that has to be surmounted. If you get stuck on the hard, you need to either reevaluate or quit.
3) Aspirations are misleading
So often, people want the simple answer. The question isn’t so much what as it is who. Who do you want to be?
I don’t have an answer for that. I want to be myself. I don’t want to compare myself to other people. So, Tina Fey? No. Tina Fey can be Tina Fey. I will not be better at being Tina Fey than Tina Fey is. Jane Espenson? Closer, but no. I would not make a very good Jane Espenson. (I love Jane Espenson and have the utmost respect for her.)
I understand why this is a question that people ask. It’s the same reason they have to take complex scientific theories on sci fi shows and distill them to clumsy analogies that are simple enough for a largely unscientific audience to understand.
Regardless, stop comparing me to other people. Our dreams might not be the same, and even if they were, everyone’s path is different.
4) Reputation is currency
I suppose this could be specific to my field, but I don’t think so. It’s a little bit karma, but mostly attitude. If you go out to meet people, get to know people, connect with people on a basic level, you will develop a reputation of being kind. I know myself enough that I am often considered aloof and disinterested. I’m not. I’m fully engaged, I just usually enter a receptive state.
Yes, I’m listening. But my face is apathetic. Understanding my aloofness, I have to remind my face to do things when I’m talking to people. Be aware of what you’re putting out there. People might talk about you. You don’t want them to say bad things.
That’s what I’ve learned so far. It’s a work in progress.
A recent post about Michael Bay’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has my childhood spinning in its proverbial grave. And, before you start accusing me of hipster nostalgia, you’ve got nothing on me. I watched the cartoon, had the toys, devoured the movies, got the Christmas ornament. I even read Ninja Turtles books. Checked them out from the library. Left it outside in the rain. That put the fear of God in me.
Anyway, that point is Michael Bay is RUINING ninja turtles. Michelle Fox! What in the…how would the…but the…
Okay, I’m going to stop myself right there.
It’s sort of interesting when these types of things happen, my mind runs to cover the eyes of some imaginary child that I don’t have, nor even want at this point in my life. It’s weird, this completely unjustified righteous indignation. And, while I do think, “It’s not even the same story. You’re changing everything. Can’t you just make that movie and leave my beloved non-alien, un-Michelle Fox Turtles alone?”
Clearly not. And it’s not really my business to say so. You see, I make a stand by not giving Hollywood my money. (In most cases, it matters not.)
But, it brings me to a weird point that probably doesn’t need to be made.
You’re not really ruining it.
While attempting a Harry Potter movie marathon last weekend, I came to a stunning realization. Those movies are DEPRESSING as HELL. As I made my way through the first three years of Harry Potter on DVD, I forgot the good times that Harry had at Hogwarts. I forgot J.K. Rowling’s sly wit and subtle humor. So much of that didn’t come out in the films. I had to stop because I knew Harry’s journey just grew darker and darker.
Did the director’s of Harry Potter ruin it?
No. I had so many fond memories of reading the books. And, fond memories of gathering with my friends to go to the midnight releases. I wonder what someone who has just seen the movies must think.
Back to the point:
In many ways, we don’t want pieces of our culture to die. We bow down to them and worship. It’s like the George Lucas tithe. Every ten years, we must give him more of our dollars and eat popcorn at his altar. This reluctance to try new things is killing the movie industry. (Let’s face it, it isn’t going anywhere soon.) Studios want to bet on the sure thing. And even if everyone is going out to watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in order to hate it, YOU’RE STILL SEEING IT.
If we want to maintain our culture, we should preserve it in our minds. I remember sneaking Star Wars on the basement VHS player. I remember my shock that Darth Vader was Luke’s father. I remember those episodes of Batman: The Animated Series that introduced me to every villain and left me with a fondness for boxy Batmobiles.
At some point, we have to let go of this notion of ruining. The world is progressing. It’s not easy to build a fandom from scratch, but kids do it every year. Do I love The Nanny because of it’s timeless Broadway references or because it was a part of my youth? Mostly because of the Cici/Niles repartee. Perhaps I over-inflate the brilliance of things because I have a developmental attachment to them.
Either way, we must face the facts: Batman is growing up, the Ninja Turtles are growing up, The Nanny will not come back on the air.
Accusing people of ruining things holds us back from progress. Stop being such a Raphael.
(By the way, I can’t wait for Jurassic Park 3D)
‘Twas the night before Rapture and all through the land; We hoped that the Mayans were wrong on their plan.
For some people said it would be over soon.
Many of us hope they’d just run out of room.
With holiday greetings still stacked on the shelves; We hoped to see light at the end of Two Thousand and Twelve.
With cable news glowing, lights upon the Christmas tree.
We tentatively watched and thought, “Well, I guess we’ll see.”
But everything became boring, no word of mass dead. I thought, ‘Geez, forget this. I’m going to bed.”
I shuffled upstairs and I turned out the light.
Too exhausted to think this could be my last night.
So many ways to go, zombie, asteroid, or drought.
I’m going to sleep, you guys figure it out.
For you see, if tomorrow, the world begins splitting.
You can bet bet the doomsday preppers are the first people I’m hitting.
If you’re looking for the social media stuff, it has moved over to Social Media for the Common Man. I will be updating that with both basic and advanced techniques for interacting on the web with your fellow man. You’re free to take or not take my advice. I will also take suggests in comments, on Twitter, on Facebook, and through email. Feel free to contact me.
I’m working three jobs and having a fairly good social life (much to my surprise), so updates may be sporadic.
Speaking of a “social life”, I had a ticket to ComicCon (#sdcc) on Sunday and guys…
Anyway, lately I’ve been contemplating Nerdom, my current status within the hierarchy of Nerdom (I mean, c’mon; I made the pilgrimage to Nerd-Mecca [on the Sabbath, no less]) and I wanted to point something out.
Nerds and hipsters are in a culture struggle. My real contemplation started when I pinned an infographic on Pinterest. At first, I thought it was a joke, but I got several responses to it.
Then, I tweeted something about Shark Week and soon found myself shoved into some hipster strewn corner of the Internet. It was like I was living on a Risk board. When did the hipsters take Shark Week?
In Nerds: How Dorks, Dweebs, Techies, and Trekkies Can Save America (and Why They Might Be Our Last Hope) David Anderegg says,
“Young adult urban hipsters embrace nerd/geek stereotypes and costumes because this is a way of distancing themselves from mainstream America.”
The thing about stereotypes is that you tend to brush against the walls of your stereotype no matter how atypical you try to be. But, one of the really great things about nerds is that they usually don’t care. Often times, a nerd will place practicality over appearance. That’s not to say that don’t care about cleanliness (stereotype) or attracting a mate (stereotype), they just have other things on their minds.
I wear glasses because my eyes aren’t so good. I prefer to wear jeans, a t-shirt with a pop culture reference, and a pair of Converse. I really like the way those shoes look paired with boot-cut jeans. I suppose that’s my costume, but it’s what I’m comfortable in.
I’ve been working with web technology since 7th grade. I love Apple products. I grew up surrounded by them (my dad had a Newton!). I have a lightsaber, I love television shows, mostly scifi dramas, and Joss Whedon is one of my heroes. Not ironically.
The hipster is extremely concerned about their appearance, which is interesting that the opposite intent often yields the same result.
However, the big difference between nerds and hipsters is enthusiasm. My ticket to ComicCon was too last minute for me to wear a costume (got the ticket Saturday night at 8, had to leave at 6am Sunday). I didn’t feel right throwing something together half-assed.
The thing I’m really getting to is: hipsters like things ironically. What does that mean? It means they’re either a) too afraid to admit they like something in actuality or b) they say they like something to sound outrageous or cool or hip.
Nerds don’t love things ironically. They squee. They freak out when they see Nathan Fillion. They work all year on a costume they wear once a year…and they don’t even get in the door.
Hipsters’ attitude and their tendency to disguise themselves as nerds may have led to nerd chic, but now it’s giving nerds a bad name.
The next time you see a hipster and mock them, stop and think.
Perhaps it’s only a nerd.
P.S. We’re f*&king taking back Shark Week.
Either that or they’re trying to make the geek inherit the Earth.
If you haven’t been paying attention, Google has released several press releases talking about Google Glass. While they didn’t take my suggestion for their slogan (It’s a Computer…for Your Face!), Glass is something we can all get excited about.
Google Glass is a technological apparatus you wear on your face like, well, glasses. It’s like Blu-tooth with the smartphone integrated into the system. A forward facing camera allows you to interact with the icons.
The thing I find thrilling about this is that it basically gives you a heads-up display (HUD). For those of you familiar with gaming, first person shooters especially, you’ll know what I’m talking about. For those of you who aren’t, the HUD is stuff that appears on the screen while you’re running around your virtual world, like a map identifying threats, your health indicator, and other various things you should be aware of, depending on the environment.
If you’ve seen Prometheus, they had this sort of interactive smart tech built into their helmets.
That sounds really cool, right? Gamers adapt to that within the virtual world, so, perhaps, that means people will be able to adapt in the real world and won’t be stuck running into a wall and not being able to turn around.
Hold the phone. If I’m so excited about that, what makes me think Google is trying to kill us all?
Not kill us, no. Cull us. You may have missed this article, too.
That’s right. Google Maps is now mapping interiors. You will be able to navigate inside buildings. This would definitely be integrated into the Google Glass display. It’d be like exploring a cave in Skyrim, except you don’t go in blind. It’s all laid out for you.
Partnered with this, I’m afraid Google is setting us up for an endgame. The early-adapters, the gamers, the nerds…they’ll have the upper hand. And, we know how this ends. The ones who are most prepared for the zombies are the ones that created them.
It’s the end of the world. You have your Google Glass, a 9mm, 50 rounds of ammunition, 3 health kits, standard shoes, shirt, jeans. Your objective?
It’s free roam. It’s open-ended. It’s adaptive.
And, you’re playing on hardcore mode.
Don’t forget to upgrade your weapons.
I titled this post so you would understand that this is opinion and what works for me. If, one day, I get published, then maybe I’ll retroactively change the title. Until then, if you’re looking for expert advice, I be not the one to which you should turn.
I mean, Gawd, look at that sentence. What does it even mean?
But, dear Internet user, perhaps writer, perhaps good friend of mine or family member, I want you to take this to heart with the force of my sincerity behind it.
The thing is: Not all of these writers are experts. You don’t need to listen to what they have to say. Even Chuck Wendig is full of shit sometimes. Only sometimes. He’s a good one to look at (plus, he has published books!).
I’m not often one to admit this, but writing is hard. There is no easy advice out there to help you write a book. There’s even less to help you get published. There isn’t a rule book, there isn’t a yellow brick road. The best you can hope for is reading about something that works for someone else and finding out that system works for you.
Here’s what works for me:
1) Write more better.
I got this one from A. Lee Martinez. It means write more and you will eventually get better. Or, writing more will eventually lead to better writing. I don’t know, but it means something.
There is a time to put aside a project that isn’t working and start something new. Don’t write one book and bank on that as the one that leads you to fame and fortune. Write more better.
2) Don’t expect fame and fortune.
Do you know how many authors are on the midlist? Do you even know what the midlist is? If you are a bestseller, congratulations! Honestly, good work! But, there are plenty of people who are published and still can’t quit their day job.
Be aware that your little book might not change the world. It might not get you published. It might not even get you an agent. But, if you follow the advice in point #1, maybe, eventually, you will land on something that resonates with enough people to get you published, agented, or off the midlist.
3) Finish it
You can’t keep it up forever. Slap an ending on that sucker, give it a round of revisions, and see where that leaves you. In the mean time, start thinking about something new.
You can always improve. Read good books, read bad books, read magazines, read YA, read Stephen King. Read something and see if you like that style. Read something that you hate, but make sure you identify why you hate it. Keep looking for improvements.
Your head is an echo chamber. Sometimes, the voices of doubt, confidence, paranoia, suspicion, and anxiety bounce around so much, you lose objectivity. Give it to outside eyes.
I went to a public group that involved reading your piece out loud. There are plenty of ways to do this. Someone you trust to tell you the truth, another writer, anything. You need someone to look at your work to answer at least one question:
“Is it a book?”
So, yeah. I guess writing is hard for the simple fact that it’s not easy. You have to work at it. You have to want to improve. You have to do the thing that works for you and, if it doesn’t work, try something else. There aren’t rules, so much as guidelines.
If you try to take a shortcut, you might be disappointed with where the path leads.
Good luck. Be aware. Be careful. I care about you and want you to succeed.
Don’t even try to pretend you don’t watch Hoarders. Your lip peels back in disgust at the sight of a house in such a state of disarray, it’s nearly physically painful. You placate yourself every minute or so, telling yourself, ‘I will never be like that’, but we might all be heading that way.
I live in a Culture of Collection. I have stacks of books collected around my house. As my shelves empty of books while my collection goes digital, I find other things to take their place. DVD’s, action figures, toys, *cough* an Iron Man helmet *cough*. My justification is and has always been: They look cool.
I read a post on the 90s today and suddenly, my hoarding fears rushed to the surface. I still have a crap load of Beanie Babies. Why? Dear, God, why? I didn’t even play with them when I had them. Here’s how it worked.
- Buy Beanie Baby
- Read poem
- Click on tag preserver
My cat got more use out of my Beanie Babies than I did. She killed them every night and left their rotting carcasses on the stairs for us to discover in the morning.
Keep in mind, this was so long ago, that cat is no longer alive.
Why do I still have them?
I’m on the path to hoarding. I can’t get rid of them. Every time I think of doing something with them, I remember how much I wanted them, how hard I tried to find them, and what a point of pride it was when I finally got Digger the Crab.
I’m not a sentimental person and, at some point, I will either decide to get rid of them or they will be in the way of something new. While I might have a tendency to collect things, I also have an OCD impulse that requires a certain balance of minimalism. Even I can have too many nerdy t-shirts (still haven’t reached the threshold on that one).
On some level, I have sympathy for hoarders. Objects are like pensieves; they contain memories, they seem to hold on to meaning. In reality, we’re the ones who have to remember the culture that we loved. We’re the ones who have to hold on to the memories. No object can arouse a full-fledged memory like a person can.
In the mean time, does anybody know what to do with a crap-ton of Beanie Babies?
From a distance, I am a hipster. I’m comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt with a pop culture reference. I’ve worn glasses since 9th grade, square cut frames because I don’t look so good in round/frameless. I don’t wear Converse All-Stars because I like the way they feel. I like the way they look, with a boot-cut pant leg draped across the laces, almost dragging, but not quite. Man, you pull a pair of Converse out of the washing machine and they are bright white just like the day you bought them, they look great (in the spirit of full disclosure, my attraction to Converse may be a result of my love of Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez [that's a Sandlot reference]).
I work part-time at a startup in social media and part-time as a barista at a Starbucks licensed cafe. I call myself a writer. I own a Macbook (since 2008); I have had an iPod since the original 2nd generation; I’ve had an iPad 2 since July; I’ve had an iPhone since my contract last expired. One of my favorite bands is from Europe (Within Temptation) and it’s likely you’ve never heard of them.
I fit the hipster image.
So, how can I claim to be different?
I enjoy things. I love Lady Gaga. Whenever Poker Face comes on the radio, I crank it up and sing along.
The Muppets was one of the most emotionally poignant movies I’ve seen this year.
I love reading non-fiction. I taught myself to play passable guitar so I could play (badly) and sing (equally badly).
I own a lightsaber replica, and it is awesome!
A big aspect of the hipster generation is their inability to find enjoyment in the things they do. They like obscure bands because they are obscure. They wear t-shirts “ironically”. They over-critisize every movie they see while maintaining an air of superiority. They read books to be seen, rather than books they want to read.
It’s a trap!
There are so many things available to our culture now, it’s ridiculous to waste time on stuff from which we don’t glean enjoyment.
Epicurus believed that pleasure is the greatest good. But the way to attain pleasure was to live modestly and to gain knowledge of the workings of the world and the limits of one’s desires. This led one to attain a state of tranquility (ataraxia) and freedom from fear, as well as absence of bodily pain (aponia). The combination of these two states is supposed to constitute happiness in its highest form. Although Epicureanism is a form of hedonism, insofar as it declares pleasure as the sole intrinsic good, its conception of absence of pain as the greatest pleasure and its advocacy of a simple life make it different from “hedonism” as it is commonly understood.
It propounded an ethic of individual pleasure as the sole or chief good in life. Hence, Epicurus advocated living in such a way as to derive the greatest amount of pleasure possible during one’s lifetime, yet doing so moderately in order to avoid the suffering incurred by overindulgence in such pleasure.
I’m not promoting hedonism, but it’s not a bad thing to enjoy yourself every now and again. Every hipster I’ve ever interacted with is always the same on that level: they never talk about something they legitimately enjoyed to the point where I wonder if they enjoy anything.
I’m not making any great leaps here. Take advantage of the small pleasures in life. Look for things you enjoy rather than irritate.
Be like this guy:
No one hates hula hoops.
Humans like patterns. We like to think that things repeat, and we love to feel clever. There are quite a few wonderful things that have come out of this idea. Writing. Science. Mathematics.
These things are supposed to help us identify the patterns of the universe and make us feel special and clever.
Then, things take a turn for the strange and bizarre.
Items of Interest: Ep. 17
Everyone loves a good conspiracy theory. I love a good conspiracy. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe all…many (most) of them. Like:
1. The government is covering up evidence of a UFO landing.
The event that kick-started more than a half century of conspiracy theories surrounding unidentified flying objects (UFOs). Something did crash at Roswell, New Mexico, sometime before July 7, 1947 and – at first – the US authorities stated explicitly that this was a flying saucer or disk – as shown by the splash story on that day’s Roswell Daily Record, pictured. Numerous witnesses reported seeing metallic debris scattered over a wide area and at least one reported seeing a blazing craft crossing the sky shortly before it crashed. In recent years, witnesses have added significant new details, including claims of a large military operation dedicated to recovering alien craft and aliens themselves, at as many as 11 crash sites, and alleged witness intimidation. In 1989, former mortician Glenn Dennis claimed that he was involved in alien autopsies which were carried out at the Roswell air force base.
2. The Apollo moon landing was a hoax.
Nasa and possibly others intentionally deceived the public into believing the landings did occur by manufacturing, destroying, or tampering with evidence, including photos, telemetry tapes, transmissions, and rock samples; and that Nasa and possibly others continue to actively participate in the conspiracy to this day. Those who think that Nasa faked some or all of the landings base their theories on photographs from the lunar surface which they claim show camera crosshairs partially behind rocks, a flag planted by Buzz Aldrin moving in a strange way, the lack of stars over the lunar landscape and shadows falling in different direction. Many commentators have published detailed rebuttals to the hoax claims, and these theories have been generally discounted but belief in them – particularly on the web – persists.
3. The Philadelphia experiment.
During an experiment at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in October 1943, the US Navy destroyer Eldridge was rendered invisible. According to some accounts, the scientists on the experiment found a way to bend light around an object but that the experiment went wrong and Eldridge was transported through space and time, reappearing at sea. Several sailors, it is said, were badly hurt when the experiment went wrong and some were melded into the ship’s superstructure. The US Navy has denied that the experiment ever took place.
I approach these with a healthy dose of what-if. It’s fun to play with these ideas, morph their conclusions, twist around their concepts to the rationality breaking-point. Aliens? Moon landing? Teleportation? Well, if it isn’t the basis for a new novel.
But, by far, my favorite conspiracy theory is the “Paul is Dead” theory, not only in the scope of crazy, but in the realm of “does it matter?”.
You’ve probably heard what I initially did. The whole Abbey Road cover, Paul is the only one crossing the street without shoes, which means that he’s dead. I thought that was sort of it.
Alas, no, my friend.
I stumbled across this website.
It’s well researched. But, I can’t help but think maybe someone put too much thought into it. Maybe it’s true. Maybe there’s only one Beatle left in the world.
Not that it matters. Our lives are being manipulated by men in a room in suits while they drink from snifters and smoke cigars, and, at any moment, we will be thrown into martial law. *cue Twilight Zone music*