During these last couple of weeks a lot of my time has been thinking about a new venture.
It’s nothing big but instead I feel it could be something that would compliment the blog pretty well. It’s still miles off completion. As a matter of fact I’ve not even lifted a spade yet, but that’s kinda the point of this weeks post.
In the past this new idea would have been batted back and forth so long in my mind it would have eventually disintegrated completely without a trace. It would have remained as one of those ‘what if?’ ideas. Not now. No sir-ee. This new idea is going to be struck upon whilst it is still fresh in thee ol’ noggin.
I’m going to start before I’m ready.
I have no idea how to even begin this new venture but I’m going to give it a go anyway. I’ll figure it out along the way. I’ll learn as I go.
And yes, resistance is still there loitering around in the background. But where resistance used to be a pretty decent sized monster in my mind, I have now managed to downsize it to the point that it resembles an awkward, fumbling teenager. Who has just started smoking and looks uncomfortable holding a cigarette. And it has really bad acne.
Resistance now has a much quieter, much more squeaky voice.
For instance, a year ago I would never have dreamed about doing what I’m about to do… Scratch that. I would have. But it would have remained a dream. I certainly would never have blogged about it. And I definitely wouldn’t have given it a go without some serious, half-hearted investigating.
Once again I’m going to use this blog to hold me accountable. Just like my book, if it fails then no big deal. What I’ve learned over the duration of this blog is that, whilst I am genuinely grateful that you (many regularly) take the time out of your day to bother reading this, in actual fact nobody really cares that much. Everyone is busy leading their own lives and whilst its possible to build ideas up in your own mind to the point that they are all consuming… Nobody really cares that much. And that is kind of liberating.
I’m lucky enough to have many creative friends and acquaintances and my plan is to hold long form interviews with them about creativity.
The writing of the book has taken a bit of a back seat over the last few weeks. The reason for this was that I hadn’t a clue what to write.
Not writers block. It was something more fundamental than that.
I had found that as I got further into my book I was finding gaps within the plot. You would think that someone writing a book would have a lovely plot all thought out and crafted before a single word had been written. Not me. As I’ve said before I had a rough idea and I charged on. These ideas changed as I went and before I knew it my story was no longer anything like my initial idea. The main characters were the same but they were getting up to all sorts of different things. My chapters were scenes and the scenes were clunky.
The book didn’t flow.
So what did I do?
I did what I always do. I flaked out. I got incredibly anxious and started acting irrationally. All the usual symptoms were there; the incoherent ramblings, a little swearing, running my hands through my hair, a beer was launched down my throat. All shockingly stereotypical of the image of a writer I have in my mind.
Trust me, being lost inside your own book is a crap feeling. It’s like suffocating in the very pages you have written. (Wasn’t this meant to be fun?)
Eventually sanity arrived.
There has been one constant in all the time I’ve spent writing this book. My wife, Naomi. She encouraged me from the get go, the one who told me I could do it, and I know she is the one who will get me to the finish line (no pressure, Love). She has helped me so much in the process of writing this book that it wouldn’t be the same without her. That is no understatement.
She advised me to write out each chapter on a post-it card and lay the chapters out on the kitchen table from start to finish. Within minutes gaps became glaringly obvious and in other places it turned out there were no gaps at all.
How do I fix the problem of the gaps?
Each problem chapter/ gap gets subdivided into mini scenes. Those scenes then get written out on a corresponding post-it card. In other words, I get granular with the plot. This way I can create a flow to the story which is (hopefully) dynamic and keeps a readers interest.
It also means I can work through my book in a systematic fashion. I pick up one post it card and write it up until its finished and then move onto the next. Eventually, some day I’ll complete my book.
Before I get into this week’s post, I just want to do a bit of shameless self promotion and tell you that I was featured on my friend Delaney’s blog this week. If you get a minute, you should check it out here. On with the post…
Who would bring out a magazine that costs far more than its competitors when publications are folding left, right and centre?
After all, we are told that printed media is dying a long and slow death. Blogs and online newspapers, social media and Youtube have all given printed media a solid kicking. But The Great Discontent is taking no note of that. What’s more, it seems to be thriving.
Last Friday I arrived home to find that Naomi had ordered me a copy of The Great Discontent magazine. I had heard about it on The Good Life Project and really wanted to check out why this magazine was so different.
For a start The Great Discontent is a tri-annual publication. Ok, it costs a bit more than your normal magazine (at $25 a pop). But it’s pretty easy to justify it three times a year as opposed to the traditional monthly ($12 a pop).
It’s weighty, like a coffee table book. It looks stunning. The matte pages feel great and, with the risk of coming across as a snob, it’s definitely a cut above any other magazine I’ve read.
Previous publications have always had a scatter gun approach; everything and anything would get reviewed, critiqued and featured by scores of journalists and to be honest, I would only read around 50% of its content. The rest I simply wasn’t interested in.
They’ve also been recycling tired features for far too long. Last week I went into a newsagent and looked at the music magazines on the shelf. On the front covers were bands from a long gone era. Rush, Neil Young and The Beatles. I’m not dissing these artists but after, say 40 years I think we can move on.
The Great Discontent however, with its long form interviews from a selection of artists from different fields, whittles down its buying customers to a few.
Geeks like me, in other words.
Instead of carrying huge attention grabbing headlines, each edition and all the interviews follow a theme. The most recent was “Possibilty”. Sounded sexy to me. This magazine focuses on a narrow field and goes way, way deeper than its peers. And it’s following a distinct trend.
Instead of trying to grapple with a huge audience, The Great Discontent has handpicked its customers and said, “Here – this is for you guys.” And it’s not the only one. Loads of different outlets are doing the same thing. The aforementioned Good Life Project and WTF? are both different examples of podcasts with deep reaching interviews. I’ve heard that Comic Book publications are on the rise. The National newspaper in Scotland also bucked the trend. Every one of these publications have handpicked their audience and sold directly to their customers. People are digging it.
That makes me happy because it also shows that the public are still wanting quality output. The difference is it’s just coming from a different place now.
But what really appeals to me is that people are returning from tapping on glass faced devices to buying physical things again. People are scratching the analogue itch and for a wannabe author like me, that’s a good sign.
Oh… And one last thing. There is not one single advertisement in it.
Each day I try to stay inspired.
Ironically, in order to do this I have to turn certain things off in my life. At home I turn the tv off and during the day I turn the radio in my truck off. Both of them sap the life right out of me.
I remember when I was a kid my dad would come home from work and the first thing on the tv would be the 6 o’clock news. He would rant and rave and go off his chump at the state of the world. Which, in some respects is fair enough. My last glimpse at any current affairs was hardly a cheery affair.
Back then I never thought anything of it. Most households were, and still are the same.
These days I couldn’t think of anything worse. The thought of coming home after a long day at work to turn on the tv and be subjected to the evening news would send me screaming out the front door. No thanks.
Instead I turn on hand picked programmes which have content that I’m after.
Whats the difference between me and my dad? He only had four of five tv channels to pick from back then. Today I have the internet.
I get to pick what informs my life. Some folks may criticise me and say I’m living in a bubble; that I don’t know what’s going on in the world. And you know what? They would be right. I live in the most remote city on the planet. I’ve deliberately turned off to the majority and tuned into the few. It feels good.
Podcasts like The Good Life Project, Marc Maron’s WTF?, The Lively Show and Off Camera with Sam Jones. I even gave Desert Island Discs a go because I wanted to hear what the coolest guy on planet earth, David Attenborough listens to.
When Attenborough was asked what it was like to be a cultural icon and the most travelled person EVER his answer was simple and stunning. I may be paraphrasing a little but it went something like this. “Charles Darwin travelled for only four years. The rest of his life he sat and thought.”
Who needs the 6 O’clock news with wisdom like that?
Netflix gives me straight up tv shows, movies, documentaries and indie films all without having to go through the time suck that is channel flicking or paying a ridiculous monthly subscription for 745 channels of…. what exactly? (I would love to see the results of an app that records the amount of time people spend channel flicking.)
All of this with minimal adverts, zero celebrity or agenda. Instead I find out what creative people get up to and how they do it. I try and copy their methods and strategies and adopt it in my daily life. I steal from everything and anything I can get my hands on. I’m now slowly building up a healthy list of inspirational figures from all different walks of life.
Yet tonight, I simply wasn’t up for writing this piece. Inspiration was thin on the ground. The trucking life has been difficult the last few days and I wasn’t feeling like writing at all. I had a few ideas knocking around but nothing was sticking.
Then inspiration arrived from the smallest and most unlikely source. My son, Ethan. A couple of hours ago he took his first steps. Little wobbly steps across the kitchen floor.
If he can learn to walk, I can write this post.