The Learning Curve

I have these lists.

And, they’re long.

One is Things I Learned in School. This list is finite. It’s not getting any longer, mainly because I’m not in school anymore. The non-academics are on there, too. Like how to become a cool kid (never actually learned that one, but it might be on your list).

Then, there’s Things I Didn’t Learn in School. This one’s infinite, and I discover more things on it every day.

I unfurled a different list this weekend: Things I Should Have Learned in School. Like, say, how to write a query letter. Or, how to get published. Or, how not to look like a crazy writer in front of a group of agents after you spent the last 12 hours in a caffeine-induced heightened state of awareness while pounding out 10,000 words.

Not that anything like that has ever happened to me…

So, what’s the problem? What’s the point?

I wouldn’t trade my education for anything. I took full advantage of the opportunities my school provided. However, one should never assume they are done learning. Every person in the world is a wealth of knowledge. Lately, I’ve felt like a brain slug, leeching off the intellect of people I know.

Is that a thing? Does it count as leeching if they give it to you freely?

On the flip side, do we gravitate towards each other? There must be a law in the Physics of Psychology (yeah, just made that up).

People with like interests and a passion to learn from each other attract. Whether by choice or how the world turns, it seems we all end up in the same place. iHop on Wednesday nights (wink).

So, here’s the lesson you can take away from today’s ramble:

If you want to be a writer, go to class. Go to conferences. Talk to other writers. Listen to what people have to say about the art. Read the blogs. And, keep writing the whole time. Knowing it all is overrated (and BS).

You can’t learn it all in school. You can never stop learning.

Throw it against the wall. See what sticks.

Bohemian Rhapsody just started on my stereo, so y’all know what I have to do.

A review of some kind of media

Storytelling is not confined to the Written Word. We should challenge ourselves to find and hail good storytelling regardless of medium.

And, no, that’s not just an excuse for not finishing a book this week.

So, here’s something else for your enjoyment.

Series Breakdown

(like there’s humor in a situation)

Hot in Cleveland

I remember seeing ads for this and thinking, “I should watch that.” But, like most series I mentally bookmark, I forgot about it. When it popped up on Netflix Instant Play, I had no excuse any more. Queue it up!

Three vapid LA women on their way to Paris are grounded in Cleveland, where they find life is not the same as it is on the West Coast. They buy a house that comes with a snarky caretaker.

I am a fan of Jane Leeves. I’ve seen every episode of Frazier, and I loved her as Daphne. All right, you guessed it, I love British accents no matter who’s “ew-ing” the U’s, but, hey, that’s good casting.

I’m not a Betty White follower, but concede that she is a great actress and has a knack for comedic timing. The relationship between Elka (White) and Joy (Leeves) is great.

You cannot go wrong with the cast. Wendie Malick and Valerie Bertinelli are playing roles they are perfect for.

Sean Hayes (Jack from Will & Grace) has a hand in the series as executive producer.

First Ten:

I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again. Hot in Cleveland took a 30 Rock concept (S1:Ep.20) and turned it into a series.

This is 100% okay. Hot in Cleveland coasts on concept for six episodes. I was starting to think “Okay, I get it. Just one more.” Man cannot live on concept alone.

Boom. Episode 7, everything is a well-oiled machine, and this series hit its stride. It’s nice to see a show that can make fun of the vapid and fast-paced culture of the coasts, as well as the detached and relaxed culture of Middle America. No one is safe.

I started watching season 2 and snorted coffee.

Season 2 begins in a courtroom with Wendie Malick’s voiceover, “In a situation comedy, there are two separate, but equally important, stories.” A Law & Order tribute? Yes. Yes, indeed. A million times yes.

TV Land, hats off to you. Good choice and well done. A hearty Midwesterner cheer for your continued success.

The Daily Stalk

Like everyone who gets a new technological toy, I posted about my (yet unnamed) iPad 2. It sleeps next to my bed, curled up in its smart cover. I’ve started using eye drops because I stare at it for long periods of time.

Melodramatic!

Yesterday morning, while sitting at work, I picked up my iPad and thought: “Time for the daily stalk.”

Finger paused on power button. What prompted such a negative connotation to the innocent thing I was about to do?

So, I subscribe to blogs. What’s the big deal?

By “subscribe”, I, of course, mean “am addicted to”. In my gushing “All Hail Apple” post, I mentioned a few of the feeds I subscribe to:

Kristen Lamb

Chuck Wendig

A. Lee Martinez

But, that was just the tip of the iceberg.

I’ve got Jenny Martin. Occasionally, I dig into this thing like a mole-inspired super villain, mining it for YA lit suggestions.

Rosemary Clement-Moore, who can make me simultaneously weep and laugh.

Pamela Skjolsvik. She’s got the cajones to write about death. I’m sucked in. How dare you make me think?

And even that’s just a smattering. I’m up to 14 subscriptions (and that’s not including Tumblr).

So, why “the daily stalk”?

Blogging is personal. It’s that thing that’s been bugging the writer, that little piece of irritant that’s stuck in the brain. Something that needs to be worked out. And, because I follow people with creative minds, it’s like seeing an aspect about them, learning something that they don’t have to explain, or describe, or tell you.

And, I feel a little guilty.

Everyone who reads this blog knows something about me. Without ever meeting me, you can form an opinion based on the content. What kind of music I like, what sort of books I enjoy, my personality type.

But, really, we don’t know anyone. Reading a blog is not spending time with someone. Getting to know someone through social media is sort of bogus. I mean, if I really wanted to know, I could just find out where you live, buy a pair of binoculars, and park across the street (well, hello, officer; what do you mean by ‘restraining order’?).

I’d rather sit down with you, face-to-face, and have a cup of coffee. Even if all we talk about is the weather.

Hi. I’m Kate Cornell. I’m a media consumer, obsessed with technology, and addicted to social media. When I sneeze, I always sneeze twice. I sometimes feel bad when I go to the coffee shop because I change my order every time, and I know the baristas try to make an effort to remember my drink. I love angry chick rock. I play the guitar…poorly, but passionately.

So, now you know.

I’m going to read one more post. Just one. I promise.

Items of Interest: Ep. 15

For the introvert, we sometimes think that, if it were possible, we could go out to the middle of nowhere and stay forever. If only we establish that precedent of self-sufficiency, we could rule our own piece of the planet.

No need to hope anymore.

Turn fantasy into reality.

Items of Interest: Ep. 15

Micronations

What is a micronation?

A micronation is a self-proclaimed sovereign state. They are often not interfered with by larger governments, but are not recognized as official independent states.

I know what you’re thinking.

Didn’t I see this on an episode of Family Guy?

Yes, but my point is still valid.

Sealand is probably the world’s most well known micronation. The site of Sealand is about 10 km off the coast of England, and was originally a World War II sea fort designed to deter German air raids. Eight shades of awesome.

In 1967, Paddy Roy Bates occupied the sea fort (then called Knock John) and used it to run an off-shore pirate radio station.He and his family have claimed it as an independent sovereign nation, including issuing passports. Bates claimed that the nation was granted de facto statehood when Germany sent a diplomat there, and a 1968 UK court ruling stated that because of its location in international waters, it is outside of British jurisdiction.

This is connected to what is perhaps the most fascinating event in Sealand’s history, which took place in 1978. While Bates was away, Alexander Achenbach, who refers to himself as the Prime Minister of Sealand, along with several German and Dutch compatriots, staged an armed takeover of the facility.

What? Sweet. Let’s fight over a platform. Look at that picture. Was this just a couple of adults playing King of the Hill?

They held Bates’s son, Michael, hostage for several days, later releasing him in the Netherlands. You know, because the Netherlands has the monopoly on the hostage release market. Bates raided Sealand from helicopters. He held Achenbach and the others as prisoners of war, and while the others were released, Achenbach was not. Since he held a Sealand passport, he was charged with treason against the micronation and was held unless he paid a hefty fine. When the British government would not help, Germany sent a diplomat to negotiate his release.

From time to time, rather extreme things like this have happened at Sealand, including an instance in 1990 in which a British ship was fired upon with rifles from Sealand for passing too close and “invading Sealand territory”.

Torrenting gurus The Pirate Bay attempted to buy it in reaction to harsher copyright restrictions in Sweden, its homebase.

If you’re going to go claim sovereignty, please put a little more thought into the name, by the way.

Micronations vary from the neighborhood crackpot to the uber-feminist (I didn’t link to the official site when I saw the “models are over 18” warning) to the guy exploiting the loophole

So, introverts, start looking for those loopholes. When my micronation invades yours…shoot, you’re going to be so surprised.

Hardly Working

I may have…accidentally…on purpose…inadvertently…quit my job.

That was the teaser.

Now for something completely different.

My final semester of college, I flipped my academic advisor (and group of friends) the bird and moved to New York City. NO REGRETS! Jiminy Cricket, I love that city. I participated in an internship program. The Great Lakes Colleges Association purchased an old hostel on 29th Street and 8th Ave. (I could practically spit on Madison Square Garden). Out of all the artistes participating in the program, the coffee-fetchers, the case carriers, the note-takers, I had something amazing.

An internship at Sony Pictures Television.

I was in a three-person department which consisted of the Development VP and Producer for Mini-Series and Made for TV Movies, her assistant, and lil ol’ me.

And this was no coffee-fetching internship. I was picking writers for projects. I was determining which rights to acquire. Script coverage, contacting agents, sitting in on budget meetings, editing scripts…my God, I’m almost shedding tears thinking about it.

Once the writers’ strike was over, the VP was on set while her assistant and I held down the fort at the New York office. I was watching dailies, seeing costuming. I only went out for coffee once, and the assistant apologized at least four times for asking me to do it.

I was in love. There’s something about that city. It doesn’t work for everyone, but when it gets inside you, you feel it. It whispers in your ear. It tugs on your heart. It lifts you up high and reminds you of every low. It makes you forget everything outside of itself.

In retrospect, I did some stupid stuff in that city.

I walked around by myself at two-o-clock in the morning just to feel the pace still burning through the streets when the world should be sleeping. Okay, I didn’t go to Central Park at night. I have seen almost every episode of Law and Order: SVU. I’m stupid, but not suicidal.

And, when walking through NYC at two-o-clock in the morning, I knew what I want to do with my life.

I want to produce content. Not just books, not just TV shows, not just movies. I want to tell stories, no matter what form that takes. I want to take these fantastic images in my head and hand them to someone else and say, “Look. Without me, this would not exist. What do you think?”

I know. All mad gab existential.

But, more than that, I want to be someone people can associate with quality storytelling. I want my name to be attached to a TV show, and a group of people take over a bar on premiere night so they can make up a series drinking game. I want to share other people’s stories that I find brilliant.

I want to determine what gets added to the cultural genetic structure.

Sounds crazy, no?

It’s not about the money. It’s not even about the reputation. It’s about the story. It’s about the culture. It’s about striving for a higher standard, raising the expectation, and achieving something amazing.

This past weekend, I took a step back and looked at Day Job. I adopted a British accent, stuck my finger in its face, and screamed, “You’re not helping me achieve my bloody goals!”

I told my boss I think I needed to explore my options. Because I have to keep moving forward. Stagnancy is going to kill me.

Wish me luck, pray for me, keep me in your thoughts, whatever.

Because I might be broke forever, but, at the end of everything, at least I can say I tried my hardest.

And, that counts for something.

Items of Interest: Ep. 14

Mind the gap.

No, not the warning in the Underground.

I’m talking about the generation gap. That’s right. Here it comes:

Items of Interest: Ep. 14

Generation C, the DIY Generation

Generation C is not your typical generation. It’s not defined by dates, birth year, decades. The “C” stands for Content. 

This phenomenon captures the avalanche of consumer generated ‘content’ that is building on the Web, adding tera-peta bytes of new text, images, audio and video on an ongoing basis. They’re using technical tools to create and publicize their own content. It’s easy. Blogging, social media, self-publishing, YouTube videos, Flickr. There are hundreds of ways for you to spread your content far and wide. You also have the opportunity to focus your content laser on the people who are interested in what you have to give.

The ultimate shouting into the void.

And, it’s not limited to content. The upcoming generation has taken a Do-It-Yourself approach to business. The entrepreneurial spirit has captured the young generation. Look at Google. The founders didn’t even meet each other until 1995 and now it’s one of the most influential companies in the world. Apple has changed from living in Microsoft’s shadow to a leader in technology.

What is bolstering this Do-It-Yourself spirit?

Technology. Need to make a bank deposit? Use a machine. Need to hang a shelf? Go to the hardware store and buy the materials. Need to rewire your house? I’m sure there’s a YouTube video on that somewhere…

But, wait! There’s more!

Most professional content industries (production studios, publishers, news corporations, recording studios) have gatekeepers. And, they have gatekeepers for a reason. There is value in the gatekeeper.

Let’s be honest. I can take a picture of a pier. Doesn’t mean it belongs on a poster or postcard. It’s just something I put up on my blog when I *cough* don’t have anything to write that day.

Just because I can record a song in GarageBand doesn’t mean I can cut an album (nor should I). You can list every successful content creator out there, but for every one success story, there are hundreds of failures. Why?

I’ll tell you.

In Creativity, Mihaly Csikszentmihaliyi tells us why being “creative” isn’t enough. You must know your domain and know the rules of it. What’s a domain?

Like Psychology or Literature. The category of “thing” you want to contribute to. 

Then, you need to be in a field, a place where people can judge if your innovation is novel and relevant enough to be added to the cultural knowledge base. While the Internet is used by millions of people, how many visitors do you get on your blog?

Think about it. There were nearly 290,000 books traditionally published in the US in 2009.

Which ones did you read? (What Oprah told you?)

I’m proud to be part of Generation C. I love hanging out on social media. I like blogging about things I find interesting.

But if I want to be added to the cultural knowledge base, there are a few gates I need to crash.

Read more about Generation C here.