When I get creatively stunted while writing a certain project my method for getting rid of writers block is making the stupidest thing I can think of. Just turning off my brain, and making something so bad that it hopefully kickstarts my brain back into writing something of worth. I do things like this all the time but I never show people because…well, because they’re dumb. But I figure, it’s funny to me at least a little bit, so it might be funny to one more person. So here ya go, this was today’s. (click to make bigger)
The trailer is finished for the movie my friends and I shot this summer! It was my first time trying to write a trailer and it came out better than I expected. The movie should be finished within a few months and then I’ll bombard people with that news too.
I’m afraid I’m not talented enough to succeed. I’m afraid that even though I put every fiber of my being into achieving my goal, it still won’t happen because I’m just not good enough.
I’m a writer. Out of all of my hobbies, writing is the one I have invested the greatest amount of true work hours into. Malcolm Gladwell said “… researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.” That might also remind you of a Macklemore and Ryan Lewis song aptly named “10,000 hours,” and for a very good reason, they are based on the same principle. To become an expert at anything according to Mr. Gladwell, you have to put 10,000 hours of practice into whatever it is. To writers, those hours can easily be translated and then subsequently measured by word counts.
So, let’s do some math! Well, I guess I’ll do some math and you just have to keep reading this. Good, I’m glad we had that talk. I am 8 days from being 26 years old and in the spirit of rounding up, let’s just say I’ve been alive for 26 years. I have been literate for 22 of those years. I have been writing stories for 10 of those years. On a weekly basis I average 800 written words, most of which are not publishable. That number includes weeks that I’ve written 20,000 words (that happened one time – it was a very good week) and others when I have written absolutely nothing.
4 x 800 = 3200 words a month
3200 x 12 = 38400 words a year
38400 x 10 years = 384000 words all time
For reference the book I just finished reading, Divergent, has 105,000 words. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is 76,944 words. Ulysses by James Joyce is 265,000 words. The longest novel ever recorded is Mission Earth by L. Ron Hubbard coming in at 1.2 million words. Granted, L. Ron Hubbard can sometimes be described as a psychotic lunatic, but you have to give it to the dude, he wrote a whole hell of a lot of words. For even more reference, my debut novel Odessa Red (available on Amazon.com) is 45,093 words.
Now, this is not to say that the number of written words automatically equals the quality of your product. It’s just saying that as a writer, the designation I identify myself with the most, I am a relative novice. And in that light, here is the cold hard truth: I’m not good enough yet, but I’ve invested too much time and effort to stop now.
On a related note, I truly love writing and because of that love it doesn’t matter how many times I fail, I will never stop. But what you love and what you’re good at are two very different subjects. I know why I love writing. The idea that words in a particular order that did not exist previously can create entire worlds is absolutely amazing to me, and my ultimate goal is to create worlds that I love and that others can fall in love with as well.
I want that very badly, but I will never say that I want it badly enough that I will definitely succeed. I honestly don’t know if I will succeed, and I think that’s the point. I might not be good enough. I might not have the talent to describe the worlds in my dreams. But that has nothing to do with whether or not I will keep writing. I doubt myself often; mostly at night right before I fall asleep. I ask myself why I keep doing this. Why I try so hard. I read books and think that I’ll never be able to encapsulate a story like they did. But then I fall asleep, wake up, get out of bed, and do it all again. Because the elation brought on by success outweighs the misery of failure. Success hasn’t happened yet, and I don’t know if the previous statement is true or not, but I want it to be true so badly and not trying is a great way to never find out if it can be true.
Everyone has something like this in their lives. I love writing. Ask yourself what you love. I don’t know how you feel, but I know that I’m glad I’m afraid of what I love and I think you should be too. Fear drives me toward an unknown future and personally, I’d rather be afraid than be nothing at all.
These are YouTube videos you may or may not have seen. Obviously the list is completely subjective, but I tried to make it so that it encompassed enough aspects of the YouTubes that you’d like at least one video.
I’m on YouTube more than most. YouTube and marathoning Netflix shows is my version of reading…plus sometimes, I actually read. I know…I’m insane.
There are many levels of YouTube depth. Ranging from: you watch Gangnam Style every now and again, to actually being subscribed to content creators and regularly following their posting schedules. I do the second one. Plus sometimes the first one. So, here are ten videos I want everyone to see. This can also be used as a test to see how much you’re on YouTube. If you get 10/10 that means way too much (like me) and if it’s 0/10 it means, get with the times brah.
Honorable Mention is Adam and I just cause:
I might do a sequel to this post in the future because narrowing this down was incredibly difficult. There are weird drum covers and epic rap battles I didn’t even get to show you….Oh well. And if you are really desperate to fall deeper into the YouTube depths go check THIS out and we’ll all see you in a few weeks.
I want to do a fun article but I’ve been a bit busy. Someone asked me the question “when do you have time to sleep?” last week and I was so happy. I love that question because it means I’m doing something right.
So here is a quick update on all the stuff. Last week I kinda secret published a short book called What More is There about going to see my Grandparents in the summer when I was a child. Other than the movie I’m making (I’ll get to that later) it’s the most personally invested I’ve ever been in a project. The description is: A telling of my childhood summer trips to visit my Grandparents from my first person perspective written by my Grandmother and elaborated upon by me 20 years later so we can always have these stories.
I made it as cheap as I could and it’s a literal one or two hour read so that’s a thing.
As for the movie (Ian and the Bishop), I’d say we just passed the half-way point of editing it. We have two more scenes that need rough cuts, then we have to go back through for audio levels and color corrects, music additions etc. My current estimate for that to be completed is the end of October, but I’ve been wrong before. Don’t worry though; when it comes out I’ll be shoving it down your throats constantly.
On the music front, Adam and I are in the middle of creating a full length Jolly Good record that has a name that we’re not telling people yet. I think it’s going to have 11 tracks if it all works out, and that should be done first quarter 2014.
Other writing stuff: I’m in the beginning stages of a new book – the working title of said book is “The Nightshade Express.” Also I’m working on the first draft of the next short film, which has a working title of “The Worst of Us.”
Plus I might try to fit in a web series called Apartment B2 and a web musical based on the new Jolly Good record, but who knows man. I change my mind on a pretty constant basis.
The first single off the new Jolly Good (The Comedy Rap Duo I’m in for funsies with Adam Carner) full length album is here! We’ve been working and perfecting this song for a while now and I’m extremely excited for people to finally be able to listen to it. Its premise is simple: Sometimes you just don’t want to go out on the weekends, and Staying In every once and a while can be straight up magical.
If you like the song you can download it on soundcloud for free and if you want to hear our last EP you can go here and download that for free as well. Below are the lyrics if you’re interested in following along – have a good day 🙂
Staying In by Jolly Good
Red = Adam, Purple = Ryan, Bold = Both, Pink = Elliot’s spot on girl impression
“Heyyyy man, you wanna go out tonight?”
“Nah, I’d much rather stay in”
Stayin’ home instead of going out
This is what adulthood is all about
“But it’s the weekend, gotta party it up!”
You should ask my sweat pants if they give a fuck
All up in my Kitchen, gonna cook up a storm
If you think I can’t go hard than you’re misinformed
Epic Meal time is every time I eat
If I’m not watching my carbs or intake of red meats
But I’m by myself with no one to judge
So I’m gonna fill this cake with molten lava fudge
Then I D to the Rizzle caramel galore
On these double stuffed Oreos for my mouth to explore
Turn back to the blender, gonna mix some shit
Let’s see how rum tastes with these bacon bits
No shame in drinking when you’re by yourself
If you don’t get caught then you don’t need help!
I’m Staying in Tonight
So don’t put up a fight
I’m chillin’ Home Alone
Don’t bother blowin’ up my phone
I’m Staying in Tonight
Relaxing is in sight
Ohhhh ohhh oh ohhh
I’m Staying In
Lay down on the couch All Cozy now
I turn my Netflix on while I eat my chow
But before I pick the night’s rad viewing pleasure
I Wiki random info at my leisure
With the outside getting darker yet
I try video games as another safe bet
This online fame is callin’ my name
Til a kid calls me a fag then I quit the game
Make some popcorn but I don’t need a bowl
Eating out of the bag cause I’m out of control
Create a new tiny world with Legos and pets
My Hamster balls so hard, don’t you ever forget
What can I say to get you to come out?
Wanna head to the bar?
I’m Stayin’ in
Set fire to my yard?
I’m Stayin’ in
Roll face at the club?
I’m Stayin’ in
Find your one true love?
I’m Stayin’ in
Ohhh oh oh oh ohhhh (Adam harmonizing with himself like a boss)
I’m Stayin in
I’m Stayin In
Walk naked round the house while there’s no one home
This kind of freedom only comes when you party alone
Instead of dance offs where I’m dropping it low
I stand tall at the window for my one man show
I’m Stayin In
Going to sleep, get a solid 8, but not before I procrasturbate
As my lights go out I and my slumber begins I’m just so happy that I said
I’m Stayin in – I’m Stayin in – I’m Stayin in
I have an obsession only some close friends and family know of – and I wont waste your time here: it’s the Olympics. Both the summer and winter games although I only take off work for the summer Olympics. To put this in perspective I give up vacation days to sit at home and watch my television for a week in the summer every 4 years. I bought a stupidly gigantic TV this year because I want to feel like I’m almost in Sochi, Russia for the 2014 winter games and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the 2016 summer games.
To give you another example of how invested I am in the Olympic games I know off the top of my head that on September 7th, 2013 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will be choosing from 3 cities (Tokyo, Madrid, and Istanbul)
at the 125th IOC session in Buenos Aires, Argentina to see who will be hosting the summer games in 2020. (For the record my educated guess is Tokyo, followed closely by Istanbul and Madrid is 3rd but who knows miracles have happened before and they almost beat Rio for the 2016 slot which at this point it looks as though they should have due to the overwhelming protests Rio is dealing with because of preparations for said Olympic games and the 2014 FIFA World Cup.)
FYI – The 2018 winter Olympics city has already been chosen to be PyeongChang, South Korea which I know sounds strange but I assure you it’s not. Also if I had to guess the next time any Olympic games would be on American soil I would say either the 2024 in Los Angeles (although the Toronto bid is strong) or 2026 in Salt Lake City, Utah for the winter games. So yeah, I’m super into it.
The first Olympics I remember watching was the summer Olympics of 1996. I tuned in because at the time I was a huge Orlando Magic fan (NBA team) and more specifically a Shaquille O’Neal fan (starting Center on the Orlando Magic) – so I needed to see him compete with the USA Basketball team. That week I was visiting my grandparents in Saratoga, NY and I begged and pleaded to stay up late enough to catch a replay of the game that happened earlier that day in Atlanta, GA.
Around 11pm that night I was sitting in my grandparent’s living room on a fluffy pillow in the middle of the hardwood floor aimed directly at the television. Behind me in their respective chairs both of my grandparents were completely passed out and had been for several hours which was fantastic because they would have never let 9 year old me stay up that late otherwise. My knees were digging into the ground through the pillow making it extremely uncomfortable but I fought through it because I was almost there. The promised land. The greatest show on earth. As the broadcast started on July 20th, 1996 (USA’s first game against Argentina) my mind was racing.
Before I dive deeper let me explain this team so that even if you don’t like or understand basketball you’re on the same page as me. For what it’s worth I consider the 1996 USA Men’s Basketball team to be the second best team in all of sports history. I’m not talking just basketball – I’m talking the second best group of human beings playing any sport of all time. And they would be #1 easily if it wasn’t for the 1992 USA Men’s team. See in 1992 the Olympics began to allow professional basketball players participate in the Olympics. Prior to 1992 only semi-pro players could play which meant the USA teams were mostly made up of the best collegiate players in the nation. That’s not to say we weren’t a force to be reckoned with before 1992 as we had won 9 gold medals in Olympics past but since then it has become a popular past time in many other regions of the world and America was not the overall favorite at every Olympic games in the 1980’s. In 1992 that all changed.
In 1992 the USA Men’s Basketball team didn’t lose one game on their way to a gold medal and furthermore their average margin of victory was 43.8 points. That’s a large amount for anyone wondering. Not only did they win, but they absolutely destroyed every team that got in their way. Sports Illustrated later stated that the Dream Team was “arguably the most dominant squad ever assembled in any sport” with the likes of Michael Jordan (the greatest basketball player of all time), Larry Bird (Best shooter in my opinion/small forward of all time in most peoples opinions), Magic Johnson (best point guard of all time hands down), Charles Barkley (Said to be the slowest and fattest guy on the court, but also one of the leading scorers on the team and one of the best power forwards of all time), Karl Malone & John Stockton (One of the best power forwards and point guards respectively of all time, and arguably the best duo of all time), Patrick Ewing (top 10 centers of all time), Clyde Drexler( top 10 shooting guards of all time), David Robinson (top 10 centers all time), Chris Mullin (50 greatest players of all time), Scottie Pippin (top 5 small forwards of all time), and last and certainly least Christian Laettner who had no right being there but he hit one amazing shot to win at the end of a game that some consider the greatest basketball game ever played.) All but one (you can guess which) of those players are in basketballs Hall of Fame for their individual efforts and the entire team is immortalized in the HoF as the first accurately named “Dream Team.” If you ever want to learn more about said team watch this fantastic documentary on youtube fo free.
Sadly I was 4 years old in 1992 and did not yet have the level of appreciation for Olympic basketball as I did in 1996, so when I sat down to watch my first USA basketball game that night I was hearing about 1992 like it was already a legend. The 1996 team had 5 players from 1992 – Karl Malone, John Stockton, Scottie Pippin, David Robinson, and Charles Barkley. The new players included Shaquille O’Neal (top 5 centers of all time), Hakeem Olajuwon (top 5 centers of all time), Gary Payton (top 10 point guards of all time), Reggie Miller (2nd on the list of most 3 pointers ever made), Mitch Richmond (6 time NBA All-Star), Grant Hill (7 time NBA All-Star), and Penny Hardaway (3 time NBA All-Star). The margin of victory in 1996 ended up being a measly 32.3 points – not over 40, but it still did the job.
Throughout the game these players would show off their talent against a well put together Argentina team that had no chance from the get go. John Stockton would throw a no look pass to Karl Malone for an easy dunk. From time to time head coach Larry Wilkens would put Shaq (7 foot 1), Hakeem (7 feet), and David Robinson (7 foot 1) in simultaneously which was just amazingly unfair. Reggie Miller would drain a 3 like he did in the other teams nightmares. I swear to this day I didn’t blink for long extended periods of time on purpose so I wouldn’t miss a single play. That year the Dream Team won the championship game 95 to 69 against FR Yugoslavia (now Serbia) – a blowout to end all blowouts.
When my grandparents woke up as the game ended and my obsession had taken complete hold of me I was in tears. My grandmother, obviously concerned that her grandson was sitting by himself in the dark and crying asked me what was wrong. I looked up at her, wiped the tears from my face and said “nothing. Nothing is wrong.” That night was the first time I remember crying tears of joy.
To this day if I am asked what my overall goals in life are I say the ones that are sort of obvious: I want to be a writer and musician full time, but besides that – one day, I want to watch the USA Men’s Basketball team at the Olympics win a gold medal. And whomever is with me that day must be prepared, because I’m going to cry like a little baby. And if it’s my future wife (crosses fingers, knocks on wood at the same time) she will have to come to terms with the fact that she just witnessed the greatest moment of my life (tied of course with children and day of marriage) but it’s absolutely tied with no questions asked.
So – now that you know that about me what are your incredibly specific obsessions that no one really knows about? Let me know.
Til next time thanks for reading,
Updates have been sparse due to the fact that I just finished principal filming and I’m soon to be editing a short film plus I’m writing a book with a release timeline of Spring 2014 – but I thought I’d give the blog at least a little something today.
Georgia Bound (Click for PDF) is a feature length film script I wrote in the summer of 2009 and edited with the help of my friend/editor Abigail Storiale – until I had a final product in 2011. Since then I’ve written two books and a short film that is coming out this fall plus a number of other things that no one will ever see and some things that people will see if they choose too.
The synopsis for the script is: In an effort to save his relationship, recent high school graduate Jim must venture south of the Mason-Dixon with the help of his new acquaintance, a mentally unstable taxi cab driver.
The script follows this kid who is desperate but is about to find out how far he would really go to save the only thing in his life that gives him happiness. It’s a coming of age tale and really worked out well as the first thing I had ever written because the premise isn’t a new one and the story is simple.
Through writing this I learned some film fundamentals – that every page of a script is about a minute of film time – there are certain points of almost every movie ever made that you should hit including establishing your major characters and then playing around with their personalities and eventually the all if lost moment followed by some sort of redemption. The all is lost moment is my favorite because once you know about it you’ll see it in everything. It’s basically the moment about 20-30 minutes before the end of the movie where all hope seems lost and you think there is no way for these main characters who hopefully by this time in the story you are rooting for will pull this one off – but then miraculously they find a way! Most movies are like this for a reason – a large portion of the population loves the formula. So for my first go at a movie script, I used it to teach myself that exact formula.
At the time I wrote it because I just wondered if I could write a movie script. Prior to sitting in my basement for two months that summer I had never written anything of creative worth – so this was a total shot in the dark. Now it serves at a spec script, meaning that it will hopefully someday prove to someone with a bunch of money that I can write a movie. If you find the time I invite you to give it a read – I’m very proud of it, and not because I think it’s amazing (I don’t think that) but because I think that I had an idea one day and then worked on it until I liked it – which is the most important part in my opinion for anything you choose to do in life.
Have a good one,
A while back I wrote a sort of Slam Poem entitled, “A Letter to my Little Man” – A few people enjoyed it and said I should write another but this time to my future daughter. So here that is.
You terrify me. You make your every waking second a nightmare and your every sleeping second a warm embrace in paradise. Holding you in my arms is a miracle and watching you walk and talk is a 50/50 shot between elation and immeasurable heartache. One day you won’t be this way anymore. You’ll always be mine but you’ll never be all mine again. The thought of sharing you with this word violently shakes me to the core but not because I don’t think you’re not ready for this world…no….this world isn’t ready for you. My little girl. My little lady. My daughter.
First off let’s get something straight little lady, boys are filthy war mongering savages whose only place on this earth is to ruin others with their foulness. I know. I am one. This might not make sense now, but when you’re older just know, the moment you bring a significant other into our home I will harass and embarrass to my utmost ability. I’ve earned it. You will be angry and possibly call me an “old fogey” or whatever weird slang future teens use then – but it’s happening either way. So deal with it.
This life will hurt you. This world will beat you to a pulp and then hit you once more for good measure. For every good experience you have you’ll have two bad ones and some moments will feel like a nonstop storm above your head washing your hopes and dreams away. This world prepares for failures to fail – it does not prepare for people like you. People who won’t tap out. People who won’t throw in that white towel no matter how red it is when it hits the ground. Some say life is a fight and you’re in it to win it – that’s not true. Life is a fight and you’re in it to survive. Winners leave the ring little lady. Survivors keep fighting. That’s what you will be.
On a side note: If someone ever tells you to “make them a sandwich” you are 100% allowed to sock them in the face. Hard. Like, knock them the fuck out. I will bail you out of jail no questions asked, put my arm around your shoulder, and walk you to the car with a canyon of a smile.
I call you my little lady to keep you to myself. My life will be a constant battle between letting you share your wealth with the world and holding you closer to my chest until you have to push me away yourself. I don’t want to suffocate – I’m just afraid. Afraid that if I let go you will never yoyo back. Afraid that once you taste fresh air you’ll never want to breathe the stagnation surrounding dear old dad. Afraid that I tried my very very best to raise a little girl who didn’t just take the world by storm – no, she rode that storm until it’s bitter end and then immediately looked for the next set of dark clouds to conquer, and that the last storm you’ll want to see is that one cloud hanging over me; from missing you.
Fathers are supposed to give advice I hear…so here goes. Remember that Daddy looks strong but Mom will always be stronger. Remember that counting your lucky stars is a waste of time – it’s always better to notice the space between the stars so you always have some sky to fill. Remember that with your arms open wide you can touch the rising tide but with your eyes open wide you can see the entire ocean. Remember that for every moment of clarity will come the cynic who says it didn’t matter in the scheme of things – that every person is but a speck of dust and every moment is an even smaller speck and every word or shaky metaphor we utter is even smaller yet….but you tell them, every shaky metaphor comes from solid ground and every word comes from heated breathe and every moment comes from an endless pool of love and devotion that we have dedicated to each other and every person who claims to be a speck will spend their time in the wind while you, with your little speck arms, will always reach out to hold on, even for a tiny speck of time. And if that moment does not come, you tried, as I did to raise a daughter so generous and kind and as willing to teach as she is to learn – which is not all that matters, but it’s all that matters to me.
My greatest achievement will be laying the map of life in front of you, pointing to the edges of that map and saying “these are only suggestions and this map can always grow by your side. Go easy on them little lady – this world was never ready for you, but if we did this right, that’s the way you’ll always prefer it.”
Love and LTFT,
The usual cycle of my writing projects is that I’ll be smack dab in the middle of one when I need to start another. The “Ian and the Bishop” short film movie cast and crew are three weeks from rehearsals and then quickly after that we start shooting. There is a bunch more to do and not a whole lot of time to do it…so what do I do with some of my free time? Write something else completely different.
It drives me insane while being the only thing that genuinely keeps me sane simultaneously. I wrote the first scene of Ian and the Bishop a month before Odessa Red was finished. I wrote Odessa Red’s first chapter half way through putting together TLDNR. It’s a vicious cycle – which by the way would be a sweet band name. So in my usual fashion I started writing something else. So far I’ve gotten good feedback besides my editor telling me I suck at the English language, which I totally do, but I like the premise so I might stick with it after the film wraps. Who knows. It doesn’t even have a working title yet – if you think of one, let me know. I’ve written 2 chapters and you’re about to read the first. It has errors galore and according to Abigail “misplaced modifiers everywhere” whatever that witchcraft means, but the core of the first chapter is there. So, let me know what you think.