In almost every career there’s an ideal we strive for, someone or something that is the measure of success we most identify with. If you’re into basketball, Michael Jordan may have been your early inspiration. If you’re into politics then being the President could be your brass ring. If you’re into writing… well, that’s when things start to go off the rails.
Careers within an industry usually run through similar tracks with similar results, allowing us to model ourselves after another successful person in an attempt to build our own plan of attack. Writing, like the arts in general, has so many permutations, possibilities, and outliers, that one person’s success could be another person’s ruin.
My writing partner, Thersa Matsuura, and I were throwing around this question during one of our late night Skype sessions. What was our ideal writing career? Who do we look to, alive or dead, as the pinnacle of achievement in our field? The answer isn’t easy. You have to take into account genre, writing style, format (e.g. short story, novels, screenplays, etc.), and a whole host of other factors. Tough question to say the least.
In the end, we agreed there was no single person who encompassed all of what we desired, so we created an alternate path to the mountain top. [click to continue…]
For over 15 years of my life I’ve worn the Info Tech label stapled firmly to my forehead. Reactions to this identification (part of the classic America ritual “So, what do you do?”) have varied from nods of agreement to surprised expressions of “but you don’t act like a computer guy.” Trust me, I’ve been pegged for a Sales dude—in a nice way—so often that I think I should have been making commission on something this entire time.
The funny thing about labels is that we’re geared to slap them on everything and anything. We forego nuance and complexity instead pursing a tunnel-vision approach to our world.
You’re a Computer Guy, you can’t be soulful or artistic or have people skills.
You’re a Model, you can’t be intelligent or gifted with other skills or exist as anything other than an objet d’art.
You’re a Husband/Wife, you can’t live life against society’s expectations or enjoy “young people” activities or do anything other than work till you die/make lots of babies.
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I’m an unrepentant film fanatic. I can easily spend hours talking about movies, plots, actors, directors, etc. until I’ve thoroughly bored everyone except the most hardcore fans. I love films just as much as I love writing (and sometimes a bit more).
My One Year of Movies experiment already has me recording every film I see, but I recently stumbled upon a website that takes my obsession to a whole new level. [click to continue…]
For those of you using RSS readers (i.e. NetVibes, Feedly, etc.) I’m switching Cuban Nomad’s feed back to the original WordPress setup.
The are several reasons for this change, but the most important ones were the long term viability of Feedburner (Google’s been threatening its closure for years) and the weird issues I was having with the service.
All RSS icons on this site have been updated with the new link. Please adjust your app of choice accordingly.
Before 2014 started, I took a page from Chuck Wendig’s No-Fuckery Writing Plan and started a spreadsheet to track my writing output. Much like my Movie Experiment I wanted to not only record my output, but decipher meaningful trends from the statistics. Learning my habits only helps me to improve them or if need be, break them.
First, I’ll go over the design of the spreadsheet, the whys and hows, and then I’ll dive into my word counts for the year. [click to continue…]
Being a writer isn’t just about one thing. This blog post means I’m a writer. Scribbling away in a journal means I’m a writer. Hammering together a piece of fiction means I’m a writer. It’s something I have to do, one of my very few addictions and a compulsion unlike any other.
Since I refuse to pigeonhole myself, and I’m compelled to put words on paper, I thought it would be a good idea to try my hand at the freelance writing world. A few people I spoke to about freelancing groaned at the thought. Not because they believed I lacked the ability, but from their memories of fighting in the trenches. It’s not an easy industry and if anyone says otherwise they’re selling you something (literally).
But a writer’s gotta write, so I’m going to give it a whirl. At worst, it’ll be like my current stage of fiction writing, rejections and radio silence. At best, I’ll have published my first piece of paid non-fiction. Possibly my first piece of paid writing, period. I’m not going in blind, so I thought I’d share some of the resources I’m using to prepare for battle.
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Being a social animal and a high tech geek is a tough dichotomy. On one hand, I crave personal interactions and the thrill of humanity. On the other hand, I love what the digital has to offer and often fall down the electronic rabbit hole. Instinct pulls me toward people or into machines depending on the day. Sometimes I confuse myself, but at least I’m aware of the battles within me.
When I travel, flying from one city to another, I see firsthand how technology and people are intersecting. Of course when I mention technology, I really mean cell phones. We’ve always had laptops and tablets, but it’s the ubiquitousness of cell phones along with their insanely powerful capabilities that have made social alienation convenient and accepted.
Instead of being surrounded by the vibrance of life waiting for its next adventure, I see black holes of tech swallowing the poor humans they’re attached to. There’s no interaction. Hell, oftentimes there’s no recognition of the world around them. If I carried a video camera I could compile hours of footage just from the startled reactions of people mesmerized by tiny screens and then suddenly reminded of reality, by a physical bump, loud noise, or random overhead announcement. Even while in motion they remain glued to their screens.
I’m not anti-cell phone, I’ve exhibited many of the same behaviors I just described, but I am pro-human and it kills me to see it dwindling away. [click to continue…]
Books and movies are a common source of inspiration for many, but with the recent surge in quality television there’s a lot of episodic content that’s incredibly well made. Writers finally realized they can have the freedom in television that movies will never give them and actors realized that truly complex characters are littering the small screen. Meta stories, character arcs, more foreshadowing than you can shake a stick at. It feels like television is being pushed into a higher plain of existence.
For us writers, this is the perfect time to absorb the lessons playing out in our living rooms. Consider each episode a bunch of chapters and each season a book in a series. You can learn pacing, character development, story arcs, and all manner of elite level storytelling. Just the change from literal to visual storytelling can help get your creative juices flowing.
In this post I’m going to list 2 television shows that are tweaking my muse like no other. They are pushing the boundaries of the medium and delivering top notch stories in delicious bite sized chunks. I’m going to dive into the meat and potatoes of each show, so it goes without saying “there be spoilers!”
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When you hammer out your first draft it’s an odd, misshapen thing. We usually hate it or maybe begrudgingly accept it, but it’s never what we saw in our mind’s eye and it’s definitely not what we want others to read. Even though the first hurdle is beat, you still feel a million miles away from a completed story.
This is the moment when craft comes to play. We pull out our bag of tricks and start attacking the pages. Sometimes the words drip with red ink while other times entire pages are crumpled up and tossed into the wastebasket. It can be frustrating, but it’s an essential part of getting to the finish line.
When I’m figuring out the shape of a scene there’s one trick I often use. It’s low tech with a splash of color, but it has helped me tweak my stories from a perspective outside of the word processor. [click to continue…]
Creative professions are oftentimes solitary endeavors. Hours are spent in front of a black canvas, page, or music sheet simmering in your own thoughts. This is enough for some, but for others, like me, the social aspects of life are needed to feed the soul.
Developing a creative relationship with another artist can satisfy your social hungers while minimizing the distractions that come from venturing into the real world. It can help maintain your momentum and even elevate the quality of your work
I’m going to share the lessons I’ve learned from my own creative relationship with a writer on the other side of the globe. She’s been an inspiring and motivating force in my artistic life. Hopefully our framework can help you get more out of your interactions and create the valuable connections you’ve been looking for.
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One of the most difficult things for me to find is the space I need to write. Sometimes it’s a headspace that I need to drift into or a physical space that allows me to stew in my own writer juices. Often times, it’s a digital space that is free from distractions. That last one is damn near impossible to achieve. Many of us use the same machines to do our day jobs as we do for our writing. Not everyone has the luxury of multiple laptops.
I have been going back and forth about buying a laptop solely for writing, something small with a good keyboard and serious battery life, but it’s really fucking hard to justify the expense when there are amazing books that were hammered out only using pen and paper. So in the meantime, I think I’ve found a happy medium. [click to continue…]