Current Status for Fall 2021

Writer/Director Billy Wilder’s gravestone, printed out on my writer idol wall.

Technically the first day of fall is not for another two weeks. Still, it seems like many people go with the idea that fall begins when the schools reopen, and for this East-Coaster, that’s after Labor Day.

Here in Indiana, school started a month ago, on August 4.

I’ll never get used to that.

This summer, I queried agents and submitted an original essay that is like an 18-page overview of my memoir and the ground it covers. I submitted to four agents and just as many publications and have not heard anything back from any of them, which means they’re probably not interested.

This is fine, mainly because it’s something out of my control—all I can do is revise and reshape and read and power through. As William Irvine writes in a Guide to the Good Life, practicing Stoics set internal goals that are not outcome oriented. They’re about the process.

I also started a podcast with my best friend TJ Brearton. It’s called Stories We Tell, and mostly we shoot the shit about what it means to be writers in the current moment. It’s not AmWriting or Scriptnotes, which are for and by writers who are established in a traditional atmosphere like screenwriting, nonfiction, and traditional fiction; or The Writer Files and OtherPPl which is interviews with established writers. It’s about two best friends talking about their respective writing lives and how that collides with their personal lives, the environment, and their health.

The first season is now available here. We’re newcomers with this, so forgive us while we work out the kinks with sound, and get it to the other podcasting platforms like iTunes and such.

This season’s updates will not be daily, but instead weekly. I’ll get into how my practice with the Zettelkesten method went, what I read this summer, Memento Mori, and a bunch of other stuff. Then the blog posts will end for good before the holiday season.

What I’m up to Now for Summer 2021

I’m spending the summer trying out the Zettelkasten method How To Take Smart Notes: 10 Principles to Revolutionize Your Note-Taking and Writing indexing my notes. I’m not so interested in randomizing messages through a serial number—that just sounds like too much of a headache. Still, Tag Conventions, search, and Sedaris-y seasonality will probably do it for me. That way, I can compare notes. Really it’s so that I can create an index of my notebooks and my reading notes and marginalia to sort through and warm up.

Other than that, I’ll be submitting my memoir to agents and an excerpt to magazines and journals.

We’ll all be back to school in the fall, which means short posts perhaps daily and something new to the podcasting world, I believe. Still, you’ll have to subscribe to my newsletter to get a sneak preview of that.

Current Status for Spring 2021

The backyard office

The flowers are planted, we’re growing seeds, and I’ve returned to the outdoor office.

I’m still working on the novel. I’ve got another two novel ideas percolating in the background and writing some essays for publications to drum up interest in my memoir. I’ve been vaccinated. My loved ones have been vaccinated. It seems like we’re beginning to come out of this—a year later—more assertive, more resilient, and not taking anything for granted.

But the year has honestly ground us down to the quick of a nail. It’s been hard for you too I’m sure. I mean, we’ve had 600,000 families who lost a loved one. This is why I’m so, so grateful that our family isn’t one of those families. Though we’ve been touched—by the virus here and there–none of us have been positive.

Throughout this, I’ve been working like a bat out of hell as a parent, a husband, and a storyteller. If there’s one thing this year has made clear to me: I don’t know if I’m going to live one day to the next, or if any of my loved ones will also, but I’m going to make the most of the time I do have to be a kind and loving parent, husband, and storyteller.

This week, I will share some lines from what I read and what they meant to me. Thanks for being here.

Now for Fall 2020

That’s all for this season’s posts. I’ve been thinking that at some point in 2021 I’ll do a season of daily blog posts, but it depends on where I’m at in my writing projects. It probably won’t happen until summer or fall of 2021, but it’s something to build towards in the next year. But anyway: here’s what I’m working on this fall:

  1. Preparing my third novel for Pitch Wars, which just opened for entries. I’m really excited for this as I’ve spent this summer preparing my query, proposal, and synopsis and I think I have a great shot this year in terms of both my fiction writing ability and the book I’ve written. Wish me luck!
  2. In October, I’ll be developing my Virtual Assistant platform. I took a workshop with Sarah Starrs on developing this as I feel like this year—especially since turning 40—I’m feeling a stronger pull towards being self-employed, because if we’re going to have to go back into lockdown, it will pay to be more flexible and keep money coming in rather than joining the unemployment line.
  3. In November, I’m also going to develop my copy writer platform. I’ve signed up for a course through Mike Shreeve after hearing about this workshop through Copyblogger.

Then it will be the holidays and I’ll probably take December to not work on anything serious while gearing towards the holidays and the next project starting in January.

I hope everyone has a healthy, enjoyable, and relaxing fall!

Now for Summer 2019.

Big Woods Restaurant at Hard Truth Hills. Nashville, IN.

That’s all for this season. Thanks for reading some of my radical transparency. I hope you got something out of it rather than my crazy repeated phrases and concepts that may or may not have made any coherent sense. Here’s what I’m working on for the summer: 

1. I’m preparing for the birth of our second child.

2. Spending a lot of time on home improvement as a result of looking at Digital Minimalism and getting the house in order before the baby arrives.

3. Being less planned in what I’m working on, going with the mood of the week. I have diary updates, short stories I want to write, probably a nonfiction article for a magazine to do, a pair of comics, and a short film script that I’m going to play with between now and the fall.

I like to joke that ever since moving to Indiana that the summers are so hot here that I behave in a way that I used to during winters in New York: the only reason I go outside is to go to my car and turn on the air conditioning—which is currently broken, so…But the winters here are no big deal. In fact they’re delightful because no one goes out to the woods to walk around and we do.

As always, you’ll be able to find my weekly progress in my newsletter. Don’t hesitate to subscribe, say hey, or talk to me about whatever is on your plate. I’m here and willing to listen to you as you’ve willingly subscribed to listen to me.

Have a great summer. Stay cool. 

What I’m working on now for Spring 2019.

Just a stack of books I have downstairs. You should see my nightstand.

That was the series of posts for spring. Thanks for reading and following along. I’m going back into my Writing Den, where I’m going to spend a lot of time in my notebooks, and catch up on the stack of books I have. I’m going to rest, dream, and mess around in a notebook.

Also, I’m going to move house.

We closed on a house this past Friday and we’re moving over Easter so there is A LOT to do and I won’t have a lot of time to be messing around online, so I won’t be posting on here, Twitter, or Instagram again until after Summer Solstice, BUT! My newsletter will still go out weekly. In fact, I’ll be writing it as I hit post on this.

Have fun, be well, and enjoy the weather. Now take a hike!

Now for Winter 2019.

The Adirondack Mountain Range framing the golf course across from my parents house.

Hi,

I’m currently not updating this website because I’m writing these things:

  1. I’m writing the fourth and final draft of the Emerson Novel, a book about two teenagers who find out that what they write can change reality.
  2. I’m also submitting fiction. One of my first stories will be featured in The Alembic.
  3. I’m not updating my Twitter or Instagram, but if you want to keep up with what fuels me and my writing life, subscribe to my weekly newsletter. It’s filled with strange, wonderful, and hard things I thought about that week, and what I read, listened to, or watched that I found memorable.

And that’s all. Stay warm. Stay close. See you in the spring.

Right Now

  1. I’m looking for a full-time job, hopefully still in education because that’s where the bulk of my career capital is.
  2. I’m challenging myself to submit short stories four times a month for the duration of 2018 to reach the goal of getting one short story published in a lit magazine. As a result, I’m writing a lot of short stories and working on a collection of connected short stories based on my childhood in the Adirondacks.
  3. I post one short essay on the writing life here every week, and sending one newsletter every Friday on what I found interesting that fuels the above two points. 
  4. The picture above is from Chris Claremont’s notebooks, which can be found at the Columbia University Rare Book and Manuscript Library

What I’m Doing Now: Why I’m off Social Media.

You may
have noticed that I’ve deleted my Twitter and Facebook accounts and I’m no
longer updating my blog or Instagram. 

Recently, I read Cal Newport’s Deep Work and So Good They Can’t Ignore You, and I realized that social media and
my blog does not really help me work on anything that I value. If anything, they take me away from those things.

Here’s what I’m
working on right now:

  1. Being a great dad and husband is of utmost importance as we make this transition to life in Bloomington, Indiana, which leads me to: 
  2. Getting a new day job that helps support my family’s transition, as well as helps me develop new skills as someone who cares about working with people.
  3. This month, for NaNoWriMo, I’m working on the third and final rewrite
        of my young adult novel The Human Library. Next month, I’m finishing my third novel. I have about four and half chapters to finish. In 2018, I’m going to write short stories and submit them and save money to join Comics Experience to gain feedback in my deliberate practice of becoming a comics writer while developing two new comics projects.
  4. I’m trying to exercise—running or doing some Nicky Holender videos—at least four times a week because being physically healthy is good for my mental health. I’m pretty happy with the progress on this right now, as I’m running at least three times a week and averaging three miles a run before walking. It’s a great use of practical meditation

I came
to this realization while reading Newport: What I care about most is being a
great dad, husband, having a job that allows me to develop new skills, have some control in my daily life, and creates a value of competency that allows me to lead a life I care about. Which means being a family man, and writing novels and comic books. But I came up with an uber-ideology for what I’m deeply focused on right now:

The only
thing Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc needs to know about me is that my family is the most important thing in the world and
I write books and comic books and none of those social media tools helps me do those
things.  

So that’s
where I am right now. Will it change in the future? Sure, people’s beliefs
change all the time—even mine—but for right now I need to train myself to focus
deeply on the above four things, and then I’ll use whatever tool that I see is the most helpful in achieving these primary focus  areas. Mostly, I think I’ll go back to my life before I even had AOL–using the phone and email. 

Thanks for reading. 

*Post inspired by Derek Sivers