Writing With A Friend

Writing With A Friend

So I’ve been working on a fun blog post the last couple of weeks but it’s not quite ready yet.  I’ve tried a few times to get the ball rolling faster to no avail – for this post I’m dependent on the availability of three other people (Which is fine!  It’s not like I control everyone else’s lives.  I mean, it would be kinda cool if I was all-powerful like that, but alas I am not).

Instead I’m relegated to sitting in my home office working on my book and a few short stories.  Oh, the BOREDOM.  Actual Writing?  No thank you.  (Just kidding).

(Sort of).

Luckily I have a brand new companion to keep me company whenever I work from my home office instead of a coffee shop or random dirt patch somewhere. Continue reading “Writing With A Friend”

How Not To Be A Writer

How Not To Be A Writer

Have you ever noticed how many “How To Be A Writer” guides are floating around the internet?  Have you seen all the articles about what being a writer means, detailing tips to fit the bill, sharing the holy guidelines you have to follow to truly be able to classify yourself as a “Writer”?

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course.  Most of these guides are well-meaning; some of them are actually helpful.  Tips of the trade!  Tools of the craft!  Help for the struggling me!

True, there is a lot that goes into being a writer, but I think at its core it’s very simple.  We can break it into tiers pretty easily. Continue reading “How Not To Be A Writer”

Shred It, Dude

Shred It, Dude

After four days in Utah I’ve found a new frontrunner for a vacation timeshare.

For those of you that don’t know (and now that I think about it, why would you?) I’ve been skiing and snowboarding for most of my life.  My mom put me in ski school when I was four, but I switched over to snowboarding at around eleven or twelve because, “Snowboarding is way cooler mom you just don’t understand me JEEZ JUST LET ME LIVE MY LIFE UGH.”  Anyway, that means that I’ve been snowboarding for over a decade, and if my sister has to hear me say “Shred it dude!” one more time she might disavow our siblingship. Continue reading “Shred It, Dude”

I’m A Frustrated And Insecure Writer, But That’s Okay

I’m A Frustrated And Insecure Writer, But That’s Okay

Lately I’ve been getting a lot of questions from friends and family about the book I’m writing.  Most days I welcome questions like these; they give me a chance to talk about my favorite subject and the coolest person in the entire world: Me.  But recently these questions have been making me feel shy for a minute or two, something that I’m decidedly not.  So I started wondering why this could be happening, and I came to a slightly uncomfortable realization.

Continue reading “I’m A Frustrated And Insecure Writer, But That’s Okay”

Murder On The Orient Express

Murder On The Orient Express

Call me Hercule Poirot because I’m pretty sure I’ve figured out who killed Mr. Ratchett.

Right now I’m about 200 pages into Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express and, despite the fact that this book would never make it onto the bestseller lists if it were published for the first time today, I’m enjoying the hell out of it.  Go ahead and strip away the extra words!  Delete the fluffy paragraphs!  Scratch the flashbacks and backstory!  Pare the story down to its naked bones, present it as it is (a closed circuit murder mystery), and charge forward at the fastest pace possible.

Reading this amazing Agatha Christie novel has got me to thinking about how much fiction has changed in the last 80 years.  While I’m loving the book, and Agatha Christie is certainly a literary treasure, I can’t help but think about the fact that Murder on the Orient Express would not succeed in today’s book market.  The book is a pure plot vehicle without any of the extra frills that make today’s novels great.  Sure, the characters are defined well on the surface – they’re the best 2D characters I’ve read in a while – but what are their motivations, their backstories, the things that make them tick?  All of that is left out.

Not to say that that’s a bad thing.  Leaving out some of the extra crap serves this book well.  Christie presents the story exactly as she intended it – a murder mystery – and the entire goal is to figure out whodunnit.  How exciting!  You get to rip through 53,000 words (so short!) in one or two sittings and simply enjoy her masterful puzzle.

For writers I think there’s an added bonus, in that it teaches us about how to drive a book forward using just one aspect of our arsenal – plot.  It’s like a writing 101 book that teaches you the different elements one by one. 

If you want to learn characterization, or theme, or-setting-or-dialogue-or-whatever, look elsewhere.  But if you want to just focus on plot today look no further than this book.  As the story peels itself open, every layer advances the murder mystery without any extra or wasted words.

Still, though, if this was presented to an editor today they would probably say something along the lines of: “Great mystery.  Love the Plot.  But this is just the skeleton!  You have to really flesh all this out for it to be a truly great book.”

But here we are, 80 years later, still reading and enjoying Agatha Christie’s novels (And Then There Were None, anybody?).  It makes you wonder if there is still a place for these short hyper-focused-on-one-element stories in today’s reading culture.

I guess the classics are classics for a reason (I’m kind of stretching the definition of classics here to encompass all books pre-1950), though I have to admit that my repertoire is a little lacking in this area.

What are some good books you’d recommend to a friend that would fall under the ‘Classics’ category?  Which is your favorite?  Which do you think we could learn the most from?

I Trick Myself Into Writing

I Trick Myself Into Writing

There’s something beautiful about the metal pop that comes from pulling open a flip-top can.  Slide your nail under the aluminum tab, get some leverage, pull it open until the metal tears.  The sound is charming; a nice and sharp ‘click-crack-fizz’, followed by the slow hum of bubbles.

Or, wait a minute, back up… how about this one? Continue reading “I Trick Myself Into Writing”

New Year, New Purpose, New Plan

New Year, New Purpose, New Plan

Ok, so first of all, how the hell is it 2018 already?  I am a huge fan of (read: OCD about) even numbers, so the year 2018 does appeal to me more than 2017 did, but I feel like this has to be a big mistake.  I graduated college in 2014, which means it’s gotta be like… 2016… max.  2017 on a bad day, or if I’m hungover.  But 2018?  Absolutely not.

I guess if it really is 2018 (it’s not), I’ll roll with the punches as they come (do I sound old or what?), so I’m actually really excited to make the most of this year.  I’ve been thinking about this kickoff post for a while, but it took me a full month to publish it because I wanted to take some time to do quiet reflecting.

Just two weekends ago, on January 28th, I turned 26 (AKA a Level-Five 21-year-old).  Being in the less awesome half of my twenties is kind of like having an old man version of me yelling in my ear, “It’s time to grow up and start accomplishing things!  Back in my day, we used to walk seven miles to get to school, barefoot and uphill both ways!” (On my birthday I ended up doing 26 shots with said old man).

The next morning, with those thoughts still ringing in my head as I tried and failed to sleep off my hangover, I settled on what this year would be all about.

In the end, for me, it’s all about renewed focus.  This is the oldest (and wisest) any of us have ever been, and the youngest and most energetic we’ll ever be (yes I stole that from somewhere, and yes I was too lazy to look up where it came from).  This means there will never be a better year for us to do what we really want to do.

I’m coming to realize lately just how much I want out of life.  To see all there is to see, eat all there is to eat, party on every continent, write as many good books as I can (turn them into movies, write the screenplays, direct them, star in them and also play every single character with the help of makeup and CGI).  I want to be free to make the most out of my days, to write all day or all night if I want to, to walk around my city (DC) or any other city aimlessly just because I can.  I want to make a thousand friends, bring the ones I have closer, drink with them to celebrate our highs and also to forget our lows, get into and out of trouble as often as possible, travel the world with them and laugh about how strange and amazing it all is.  I want to learn a hundred languages, experience a hundred cultures, live on a boat, sail around the world, fly to Mars and bring an alien friend back, write my name on the moon.  And that’s just what I think I want to do right now.

But dreams are just dreams unless you do something about them.  With a plan a dream becomes an achievable goal.  Breaking down that goal into steps, and breaking those steps into actions, arms you with the world’s simplest roadmap.  The next step in my personal roadmap is to do several rewrites/edits of my current book and get it out there in any way I can.  I’m so excited about it – more excited than I’ve ever been about something – that I want the editing process to take a long time, because I want it to be the best book it can be.  And I will publish it, whether through a large publishing house or myself.

So I bought myself a productivity journal to keep accountable and on track.  I’ve been using it since January 1, and I absolutely love it.  It helps me clarify my goals, plan out my days, stay positive, and make sure I always have time to take the actions I need to achieve them.  If you haven’t taken the time to write down your goals and understand which activities will get you closer to them, you’re missing out.  I personally am using the BestSelfCo ‘SELF Journal’ (no this is not an ad – do you honestly think I’m nearly important enough for them to care if I mention their journal?).  There are dozens of them out there, but they all accomplish the same thing: help you focus.

Another of my immediate goals is to connect with even more people (read: you) on this amazing medium we call blogging – to learn more, make friends, see from other perspectives.  How amazing is it that in all of human history we live in a time when connecting with dozens, hundreds, and even thousands of likeminded individuals rests no further than our own fingertips?  So if you feel like it, leave a comment below with your thoughts so I can come by your blog and spend some time there, which to be clear is you doing me a favor – not the other way around – because what I want most right now is to read other peoples’ (your) writing, learn from what they (you) have to say, and hopefully find a lot of new blogs to add to my list of regular reading.

Huge shout out and thank you to awesome fellow blogger Milly Schmidt, who was kind enough to let me copy her amazing blog layout recently.  Changing things up served as a really fun and fresh kickstart to blogging in 2018.  If you haven’t checked out her blog yet you definitely should, especially if you like writing and/or cats (full disclaimer she has a dog, too, thank god).

Anyway, thanks for stopping by!  Happy 2018.