Way back when we were selling copies of THE DEAL we put together a newsletter for that release, and…we haven’t been back. To be honest, we have been missing in action to a certain degree. Between personal, professional, and creative developments life’s been pretty crazy this year. For example, Tim’s success with his first novel, the release of its sequel is reason to celebrate and reinvigorate, and the EKG that monitors my creative life (It’s alive! No, it’s dead! It’s alive and it’s better than…No, it’s dead on the slab) have made things very hectic for us as individuals.
But we’re back, and like Marvel Comics we’re rebooting with a new first issue within a year.
That’s why we’re bringing the newsletter back. We’ll talk about the things we’re currently working on like the 2014-2015 Lake Placid Film Forum series at the LPCA, The Shared Experience, book-related things, and the occasional personal aside on us and our individual creative lives.
So, subscribe. We promise we won’t spam you every day. In fact, it’ll come out probably once a month, because—like you—we hate clutter in our inboxes. Amazon does enough of that for all of us.
Thanks and see you in the emails!
Hey, we’re going to do a monthly newsletter with updates on all the things we’re working on. Like shout outs for work in area productions! Book trailers! Documentaries! Events, and some talk about being creative in the Adirondacks. Check it out if you like. Thanks!
“During the packed panel at San Diego Comic-Con, the Saga writer noted that while today, Joss Whedon and George R.R. Martin are considered cultural monsters for killing off beloved characters, death used to be a more common feature of popular fiction. One problem, he believes, is that too many characters live in the hands of corporations and are therefore considered too precious to kill. Vaughn feels that takes away one of the things that makes fiction so valuable.”—Brian K. Vaugh[a]n And Fiona Staples Reveal What’s Ahead For Saga (via wilwheaton). Great point, but it’d be great if people actually took a second to make sure they spell his name correctly. It takes five seconds max.
“So: a voice. I am not so sure it is a voice as much as it is a cross-section between the story being channeled from the “outside” and a voice that is “inside,” both of which are ostensibly the same thing manifesting through different channels.”—
Now this is an interesting way to show your work and how the issue came together. I’m excited to check it out. It’s too bad Hawkeye is coming to an end, but at least we managed to get this kind of awesome stuff.
“This isn’t technology being empowering. This is the literal *least* that technology could do. This is the opposite of consumer choice - because at the end of the day, when you’ve been working and you sit down, we’ve learned that the ability to choose and to discern and to exercise willpower and restraint and, bluntly, to concentrate, are fixed and deteriorate through the day. So no, this isn’t helping. This is externalisation of cost. This is shirking of responsibility. This is not using technology the way it *should* be used, or the way it *could* be used, but the way that it can be used to inflict maximum possible harm - to provide the illusion of choice without actually enabling *better choices*. And it fucking disgusts me.”—Dan Hon in his newsletter, which I found through warrenellis's Morning Computer daily log.
By creating quality comics of powerful female superheroes, the comic book world is opening up to a new audience of women and girls as well as giving already hooked fans more of the powerful women they’ve come to know and love.
DC Comics, another major player in comics, has also joined the trend of bringing female characters to the forefront. It has “Wonder Woman” flying solo in a self-titled series, as well as “Supergirl” and even Batman characters like “Batgirl,” “Catwoman” and “Harley Quinn.”
The above (from the Huffington Post) is a sign of why good PR is important, and why DC really, really needs to step up on the issue of diversity in superhero comics.
The HuffPo piece (and this Daily Beast piece from the weekend) point out not just how well the Marvel Hype Machine works these days in framing the narrative but almost more importantly just how badly DC does the same thing (It also points out how eagerly journalists for major news outlets eat up talking points instead of going out and researching things sometimes, but that’s neither here nor there).
In all of the news about the replacement Captain America, it’s surprising that no-one — myself included — brought up that DC has had a black Superman for the last few months in Earth-2 (or longer, if you want to look at Grant Morrison’s continued use of the Superman from Earth-23). With all the push about diversity in Marvel, no-one pointed out that the publisher doesn’t have a solo gay lead, whereas DC’s been putting Batwoman out there for the last three years (Not to mention Green Lantern in Earth-2 or Constantine, who’s bi, I think? He was in Hellblazer, but who can tell in the New 52?).
These are all alternate talking points that DC could (should?) be pushing out there in order to point out that, really, it’s not got a “crisis” or playing catch-up; it’s been there for some time, but not making the same kind of look at us look at us we have friends who aren’t white straight males noises as Marvel whenever it makes these decisions. But, instead, they just sit back and… I don’t know. Hope that someone notices?
(All of which shouldn’t be taken as a “Marvel, you are terrible,” or whatever — it’s not, and its PR machine is very good at what it does — but as a “DC, at this point, you’re practically causing your own bad press.”)
I sold my book for $25,000. I also sold some foreign rights, which ended up about tripling that, minus taxes and agent fees. I am proud of this and see it as a huge personal success, though during the years that I worked on the book it would be a lie to say I hadn’t maintained a vague idea that if I could just finish the thing and sell it that it would relieve my money worries and set me on a path to financial stability. I think this is something I had to tell myself, that there was a promised land just over the horizon, so I should keep going. And while it feels overly cynical to say that for a writer financial concerns will never go away, here’s what I’ve come to realize: For a writer financial concerns will never go away. There are many exceptions to the rule, of course, but most of what we do is trade the time that we could be making money for the time to write. Sometimes those two equal out, but for most people they don’t. So you have to figure out how you define success. Is it readership? Is it recognition? Is it in how much you produce? Or in how you feel about your own work? I’m still negotiating this with myself and probably will be forever, but one thing I have noticed is that having the book out in public has already changed my relationship to writing, and not in the ways that I thought it would. I worried that I would become fixated on how the next thing would be received, bringing everyone in publishing and the wider reading world into the room with me, but it has actually made the process more private, more internal. It’s no longer about clearing some imaginary bar of professionalism, no longer about gaining entry into some club. I’ve talked about this with a friend of mine who’s a musician, but putting something out in the world and listening to the cacophony of reactions can actually have the effect of releasing you from what you had imagined others wanted, and in a way giving you back your space. This, for me, has been the healthiest outcome of publishing a book, and something I don’t think I would have gotten without it. Permission, I guess, to no longer ask for permission.
Another great piece of advice from thompsonted on something that every one struggles with and one decision I’m trying to figure out for myself. This existence is a tough one, and, perhaps this is too simplistic, but the only thing to do is see the problem, and find a way to fix it. For me, I’m sick of my current professional pattern so it must change. Creatively speaking though? I like where I am, but that too needs to move forward and up a level.
Kingsley Amis described a certain kind of academic article in Lucky Jim:
…niggling mindlessness, its funereal parade of yawn-enforcing facts, the pseudo-light it threw upon non-problems. Dixon had read, or begun to read, dozens like it, but his own seemed worse than most in its air of being convinced of its own usefulness and significance.
Suppose you are an intellectual impostor with nothing to say, but with strong ambitions to succeed in academic life, collect a coterie of reverent disciples and have students around the world anoint your pages with respectful yellow highlighter. What kind of literary style would you cultivate? Not a lucid one, surely, for clarity would expose your lack of content.
When we academics were in graduate school, we were trained to write badly (no one put it this way of course) because every time we wrote X, our teacher always commented, “But have you considered Y? Don’t you see that Y completely contradicts what you write here.” “Have you considered” is the favorite knee-jerk response of academics to any idea. As a result, we learn as students to clog up our writing with added clauses and phrases to keep them from being attacked. In a sense (a scary sense), our syntactic goal is create sentences that take a form something like this:
X, and yet on the other hand Y, yet nevertheless X in certain respects, while at the same time Y in other respects.
And we make the prose lumpier still by inserting references to all the published scholars — those who said X, those who argued for Y, those who said X is valid in this sense, those who said Y is valid in this other sense.
As a result of all this training we come to internalize these written voices so that they speak to us continually from inside our own heads. So even when we talk and start to say “X,” we interrupt ourselves to say “Y,” but then turn around and say “Nevertheless X in certain respects, yet nevertheless Y in other respects.” We end up with our minds tied in knots.
“Now many are thought not only unexplained but inexplicable as language, sleep, madness, dreams, beasts, sex. Philosophically considered, the universe is composed of Nature and the Soul. Strictly speaking, therefore that is separate from us all which Philosophy distinguishes as the NOT ME, that is, both nature and art, all other men and my own body, must be ranked under this name, NATURE.”—
Ralph Waldo Emerson in Nature, a Penguin books Great Ideas series. Finished last Thursday.
I’m reading this for my current project, and it gave me so many ideas, it’s deeply felt and I don’t think I would have been able to really tackle it if I wasn’t surrounded by woods and mountains, and, well, nature.
This was an excellent interview. I especially like the last bit, about thirty three minutes in where Wallace talks about our interaction with screens and images and how we would rather interact with those than people.
Cave now lives in Brighton, England, with his wife and twin 14-year-old sons, in a residence that would have seemed, for a number of reasons, inconceivable to the scarecrow-haired punk he was back in Berlin. When I met him this winter, he was renting a…
“One of the things that most infuriates me about modern American political bullshit-rhetoric, the canard that we, as we grow older and live longer, should not learn more. Who gives a good goddamn what you said/thought/did when you were twenty-two — who are you NOW? Investigate! Learn! Right? Like — stay curious. Where’s the shame in learning? In — shudder — admitting you’ve learned?”—mattfractionblog in yesterday’s Milkfed Criminal Masterminds’ newsletter, which you should be getting delivered to your inbox. I look forward to it every week.
“But I guess what I’m saying, mostly to myself, but also to you and to anyone else who might be struggling with this, is that you don’t need a book deal for your commitment to your writing to be valid, you do not need a grant or a residency or an MFA. All of those things are nice, and by all means you should go after them, but I guess what I’m saying is that you do not need permission. You give yourself permission, one day at a time, you find the hours and protect them, you treat them as important and they become important, you treat your work as valid and it becomes valid. The kind of resilience this requires is probably not natural, it certainly wasn’t to me. But I’ve found it can be learned, through repetition and routine, through the quiet power of habit and consistency. I still think the day I became a writer was not the day I sold my book, nor the day I was accepted to a la-di-da program. It was probably the first time I set an alarm and actually got out of bed, when I went to the kitchen and ground the beans and poured the water, and most importantly when I told myself to sit down and get to work because this mattered”—Ted Thompson, thompsonted, on getting up every morning, and working, because this quote really meant quite a lot this morning.
“Perhaps this is why creative people are singularly vulnerable every time they put their art – whatever its nature – into the world. Without the shield of, say, a Ph.D. to point to and say, “But look, I’m real,” it’s all too easy to hang our merit and worth and realness on the opinions of others – opinions often mired in their own insecurities and vulnerabilities, which at the most malignant extreme manifest as people’s tendency to make themselves feel big by making others feel small, make themselves feel real by making others feel unreal. And though it may be true that “if you rise above, you’re going to be inundated with feedback from nobodies,” it seems to me that for many artists it almost doesn’t matter whether the feedback comes from nobodies or somebodies – when one is forced to be one’s own judge, one also tends to be one’s worst critic, and any outside fuel in the engine of self-criticism feels equally potent. Which is precisely why Smith’s point about cultivating discipline and clarity in one’s self-assessment is of tremendous, soul-saving importance.”—
This is one of the many reasons why I don’t think I want to go for my Ph.D for my job as a college professor, and I know that endangers my ability to be gainfully employed in higher education as an English teacher. Those three letters at the end of your name are just a way, as Popova says above, to give bonafides to an insecure person listed at the top of a CV that will gain you entrance into a quote-unquote higher order. It shows that one can do research, the kind of research so opaque no everyday reader would be able to interact with, and that’s just not me. If you’re going to be a teacher than it shouldn’t be about doing obtuse research that a handful of people read, but it should be about if you can teach people, and if you’re an active participant in your field.
Grow your own food, preserve it at home, survive. One of the big issues with climate change is where we can secure access to arable and clean water in order to grow food, and how to develop the personal skills and connect with a local agricultural context that would allow for true food independence—in other words, reinventing village life. It’s the Jeffersonian ideal refracted through the dark prism of contemporary pessimism about the future. I think the remnant agrarian communities in the southern Appalachians provide a viable model. By contrast, not far from my dad’s place is a demonstration of one of the gravest errors we’ve made as a nation, which is to take rich farmland out of production by turning it into sterile suburbs. I could show you where my grandparents’ farm was sold and turned into a housing development—some of the streets are named after them, which they would have despised. There’s actually a spot where John Riley West Road intersects with Eloise West Road.
One of the things that I enjoy about Sullivan is tying pertinent information to how one interacts with that information, how that means something to them in their own personal way. He’s not the only one who does this, but he’s the one who turned my attention towards thinking about how I don’t do it well enough. Your style becomes your interest in things that feeds into your content. In Pulphead, he goes from One Tree Hill and Michael Jackson to wandering ancient caves, and now talking about canning. It all comes from his interest in what other people do and how one (whether being out of water or being one of them) might interact with it, or try to emulate its good qualities. When I look back on his work, his interests, I say to myself: I want to be like that with my nonfiction. It requires being present and that’s one of the things I’m always working on. So it’s nice to read something like this and realize that since moving back to the woods, I’ve become more interested in the people in my community, growing things on my property, and participating in a CSA—a community supported agriculture program. This allows a household to buy directly from a farmer so you know where your meat products come from. This gives me the opportunity to say I support this homegrown lifestyle rather than a mindless herd-like mentality that suburban and city life embeds in oneself.
“I don’t think art is about expression. I don’t think that’s its primary motive. The primary motivation is communion with your fellow human beings. So it’s very frustrating to make something and nobody notices it. If you put on a play and nobody comes to it, did you really put on a play? But you just keep going. You remind yourself that people have been doing this as long as there have been people. And your frustrations and disappointments are nothing new. And you go back to the wheel.”—Nic Pizzolatto, in this article by andrewromano, Inside the Obsessive, Strange Mind of True Detective’s Nic Pizzolatto.
Let’s all Get Awesome Jobs by Kevin Fanning (@kfan), finished yesterday.
I loved this. If there is anything more demoralizing, devaluing, and just plain reducing it’s finding a job. I get to do it every three months. Fanning’s good humor on this nightmare is a fresh perspective. His expertise as well as his cheerful manner is delightful. I would recommend this book to anyone who currently engaged in a job search. Some highlights:
“When they ask you to describe your weaknesses, use that as an opportunity to acknowledge the areas where you’re interested in improving.”
On networking: “People want to feel useful. They want to seem smart and successful, and they want other people to listen to their advice. It’s a trait all humans are born with, and you should exploit it.”
Most of all, believe that you are awesome and make a habit out of behaving that way.
“Schedule an hour a couple times a week and then just get through that that hour. Make your job search your habit, just the dumb thing you have to do every so often in order to get to the things you actually want to do…You have talents. If you’re smart about how you present yourself and thoughtful about how you conduct yourself in the process you will eventually find a company that recognizes you for the awesome person you are.”
Fanning is just plain awesome. I became a fan after checking out fireland. You should look into his often humorous other work, like Chipotle Cup Stories.