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The Social Black Hole of Technology

Personal, Travel

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…]


Television that Inspires Good Writing

Television, Writing

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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Balancing a Scene


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…]


The Proper Care and Feeding of a Creative Relationship


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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Separation of Work & Write

Nerd, Writing

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…]


Fuck It, I’m Turning Pro

Popular Articles, Writing

Sometimes you get tired of your own bullshit.  The excuses, procrastination, and utter nonsense you distract yourself with instead of diving headlong into your passion.  Steven Pressfield talks a lot about this in his book “The War of Art” and calls the insidious force Resistance.  Procrastination and crisis have been the strongest forms of Resistance in my life.  I’m either wasting the time god gave me on this earth or allowing chaos from my life to drain my energy.

The shot clock of my existence shows question marks across its digital display, so I can’t afford to be lazy or distracted anymore.  Another great point that Pressfield makes in his book (seriously people, go buy a copy it’s life changing shit) is about Turning Pro.  It’s the moment when you make a conscious decision to stop being an amateur with your passion and instead turn it into your calling. [click to continue…]


Depression is a Sneaky Fucker


This month has been jam-packed with personal highs and lows.  I flew to the West Coast for the first time in years (had an amazing trip), I hit 2 years of being in remission (which has its own conflicting set of emotions), and I’m still struggling with my recovery.  Slowly, I’m beginning to recognize the long term effects of my fight with cancer both physically and mentally.

Then I came across unbelievable news in my Twitter feed.  Robin Williams, a man I grew up watching on television and movies who always filled me with laughter, was dead.  Depression had cruelly snatched away his talent from this world.  I was at a red light when I read the news and started banging my steering wheel yelling “Fuck!” over and over again.  People probably thought I was mental.  My reaction surprised even me, but in my heart Robin Williams was one of the “good ones.” [click to continue…]


I Feel Trapped


Flickr- Lots of Locks - clarle Anyone who’s met me in real life knows that I’m a laid back guy who’s quick to laugh, comfortable in groups, and has never met a stranger.  This is me in my element, surrounded by the world in all its deliciously varieties, eager to taste every adventure I can get my hands on.

There are few things in this life that I truly hate or fear.  Losing my mind is on top of that list.  Second is being trapped, which in a way ties perfectly to my top fear.  If I had an animal spirit it would be a shark.  Not because of its bloodthirsty nature, but because of its indomitable drive to keep moving.  The moment it stops, it dies… period. [click to continue…]


2 Years in Remission (sorta)


Being diagnosed with cancer removes all certainty from your life.  Everything is suddenly thrown into question and you have no idea what will happen to your small corner of the world.  If you’re lucky enough to survive the ordeal that is cancer then “being in remission” is your attempt at reclaiming the certainty you lost.

It’s supposed to be the rock we anchor ourselves to when the Ghost of Illness Past assails us.  A fixed date that accumulates value over time, one we can look forward to and even plan celebrations around.

I wish my relationship to remission was as robust.  Many survivors mark their remission with scans or other tests which give them the satisfaction of receiving a clean bill of health, but it appears that my case is a bit different. [click to continue…]


Taking Back My Time


Facebook I’m a huge fan of social media.  It’s allowed me to connect with people in ways I couldn’t have dreamed of just years ago. Friendships were created, bonds strengthened, and all through social media.  But as much as I love it there’s a cost to its convenience… TIME.

The worst culprit when it comes to stealing my time is Facebook. For my out of state and overseas friends it’s still the best way to keep in touch due its widespread adoption.  The main drawback, in addition to the time sink, are all the annoyances that build up into a disagreeable user experience.

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5 Years of Cuban Nomad


It took a harmless looking email from Twitter to remind me of how long Cuban Nomad has been in existence.  When I opened the mail there was a lovely looking cake (which you can see on the right) and a big blue exclamation, “Happy Twitterversary!

“You just turned 5,” it continued.  Five years.  Wow.

I started this blog and Twitter at the same time, hoping one would compliment the other.  When you first start out there are so many expectations and goals; I’ll write all the time, I’ll build a readership, writing here might open doors somewhere else.  As time passes reality wears down your hopes, leaving you with the achievable and the actual.

Perhaps it’s the RPG nerd in me, but I tend to understand things better when I can see them in a numerical fashion.  Relationships reveal themselves as do trends.  This post is to help me analyze and commemorate the work I’ve put into Cuban Nomad and take stock of things while figuring out my next steps.

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