Question of the Week #8

Sometimes the simplest questions lead to terribly convoluted answers.


How do you use social media as a writer? It strikes me that those are not easy waters to navigate.


I could not agree more. Everything that I do that is related to video is infinitely easier to adapt to social media. Why? Because you are either giving it away for free to begin with, or you can pare it down and make a teaser version of a video to share and that is generally accepted. It is difficult to share writing online without giving it away and I find writing to consume a great deal more time and energy than video-related projects. A short story takes me months to write and at the end of that the thought of just putting online is somewhat depressing. It also means I will never make money from that particular story, which would be a pretty nice thing to have happen.

That being said social media is supposed to be about interacting and sharing not just promoting your own work. So I have been earnestly attempting to do just this for a few years now. The results are lackluster. I find it difficult to engage most people online. One of my posts on this site recently had a comment that seemed like an excellent opportunity to engage someone in a debate. Only the comment was, like most of online comments, slightly off. I chose, perhaps wrongly, to not respond because I did not want to have to include a section that read, “If you refer back to what I originally wrote I addressed the point you made…” because 1) this comes off poorly and 2) it makes me sad. If you are going to bother to try and critique something someone has shared at least take a moment and read all of what they wrote. Then reread what you are writing to them and make sure you understand what you are saying. Or don’t, but then expect to get what you get in return.

This response has turned bitter, forgive me. Returning to the question, I have attempted to follow a number of writers on different social media platforms and what I have found is that none of them share much that interests me. Either they are simply promoting their work (and if I follow them on social media I usually know when their new works are published) or they post things that are personal/silly/political and not of interest to me. What should they be posting though? I feel that this is the problem with social media, what should any of us be posting? A link to the article that everyone else is posting? Photographs of us when we were six with some playful comment? Deeply held opinions that then taint our future works for the reader/viewer? For me this is the conundrum. I am unknown online and therefore I cannot imagine anyone is terribly interested in what I have to say.  Without one of my works being seen by many I am not sure how or why this would change.

Yet I keep plugging along with social media and now more with this site, in the hope that if I keep sharing and trying to put original works out into that endless data stream, that little by little this will change. So my current thought, and answer to this question is: I try and use this site to share writings that are not as labor intensive and to interact with others. My hope is that if some shorter piece I share here is of interest to someone that they may wish to read something else I have written. Or they may wish to share something with me. It is vague still as I think many of the goals of social media are but it is what I have.

Question of the Week #7

The cowardly underbelly is exposed.


You are a writer and a filmmaker, so what’s up with writing about music once a week? Wouldn’t writing about writing or film on a weekly basis make more sense?


It absolutely would. The not so clever answer as to why I am doing what I am doing is that I don’t pretend to have any knowledge or expertise regarding music. I listen to it, I like what I like and my goal with Music Mondays is to try and share this with other people.

Since I don’t have anything professionally invested in music I find it is easier and more freeing to try and write about the subject. If I were to try and offer up a book each week or even a film there would be pressure (applied only by me) to have each post really say something. To try and offer some deep analysis, or to dig up obscure works and try and offer something new about them.

It saddens me, but I have gone this route before, even with the See it Again section I have on this site. I have numerous drafts of films that I want to share but when I sit and try and write why I think you should give them another chance, unless I have some big, impressive point to make, it feels like I am failing.

Not so with music. I am not sure I said anything that pretends to be insight this week but that does not trouble me. As I have stated I listen to music and I enjoy it, that is where my relationship with music ends. I actively try and create stories and because of this I spend a fair amount of time thinking about the processes – even attempting to study how other people create, and this takes the fun out of trying to write something like a blog post about books or movies.

I plan to work on this though because I love to talk about both so the next logical step would be to try and write about them. As with everything I simply need to change my way of thinking about this matter and then everything will fall into place. This weekly thing might be a bit much though. We shall see.

Question of the Week #6

Where a simple question defeats my self-restraint.


Are you planning on watching the Oscars? If so, what do you like about them? If not, why not?


I see how it is, a question within a question! I did not watch the Oscars. The why is because I don’t find them interesting. I don’t find them fair or honest in their purpose. I don’t feel that they have defined their categories well enough to begin to make educated decisions.

If I were in the industry, making films and working with the people who receive the awards I might find it interesting or worthwhile to pay attention to the Oscars but since I am not the importance of who-wins-what escapes me. So Birdman won best picture (and other categories, I know). Does this increase my interest in seeing the film? Not really. I was pretty keen to watch it prior to the all of the accolades it has amassed yet I did not buy the film tonight, I am still waiting to rent it. Conversely, I have no interest in watching The Theory of Everything despite Eddie Redmayne winning best actor.

The main problem I have with awards like the Oscars is that there is little to no objectivity. Humphrey Bogart felt that it was impossible to compare actors unless they were performing the same role and I suppose I do as well. Did Michael Keaton not carry Birdman, winner of every major award? Was his performance in some way subpar? What did he not do that Eddie Redmayne did? Was it that The Theory of Everything was subpar on other levels which allowed Mr. Redmayne’s performance to shine that much brighter? It is impossible to say and is, quite frankly, arbitrary. Which is why I feel that the choosing of who-gets-what is dishonest. It is not about best because as it is there is no clear or obvious way to determine what “best” is. Which is part of the reason that some years you have all sorts of small films that are more “independent” that sweep the Oscars and other years where it seems exclusive to big budget blockbusters.

The Oscars suffer from being the pinnacle of awards for filmmaking. They cannot take the risks that other, lesser, awards can take. The Golden Globes can not only take greater risks but they also have created more categories and separated drama and comedy so that two entirely different kinds of filmmaking can be judged according to their means and abilities. Which of course is one of the major problems with having all different kinds of films compete with one another. If film A wants to make you laugh, film B make you cry, film C make you terrified and film D wants to entertain you with action and witty comments how do you sift through and decide which is “the best”.

So this is my long-winded and still incomplete answer to the question. Some of the awards are just terribly vague. Best Director. What does that mean? Do any two directors direct the same way? If you have seen any behind the scenes footage of directors at work, or listened to commentaries for films where actors and directors discuss what they did, you have noticed that there are infinite ways that directors direct. Are they involved in everything, right down to the smallest minutiae of every department? Do they delegate to their second in commands and then sit back and wait? Do they care only for the actors and let everything else sort itself out? Do they have their fingers in everything but take credit only for directing? Do they do several, key jobs on each production and always take credit?

I ask these questions thinking of specific directors and then I ask my own question – how closely tied is best director to best picture? What else could you be basing the award on? Gossip? It must be the film, which is why so often the picture that wins also has the director that wins. So in the cases when that isn’t true, what happened? What insight was gleaned that allowed you to know that Ben Affleck really wasn’t as good of a director even though you thought his film was the best?

I am stopping now because for so many categories this is where my brain invariable goes, down this terrible logic spiral that is without end or counter-arguments. People like watching the show, commenting on the clothing and cheering for the winners. I guess that is good. It all feels a bit arbitrary to me and I am not interested in clothes.

Question of the Week #5

A simple question about television spirals on and on…


What do you think about this whole “golden age of television” thing?


I like it. That is, I like that so many people are taking television seriously. I have a hard time with the “golden age” notion for anything. When people today say that about the 1970’s regarding film I find it hard to take them seriously. I suspect that if they were in the same position they currently occupy in the 70’s they would be saying, “Oh, the 30’s, man that was the golden age of film. Anything was finally possible.”

Which is to say most people tend to view such things with a large dose of nostalgia, which is what makes the situation of television refreshing. People are saying that about something that is happening right now. Let me repeat this: people are saying that something happening right now is good. What an absolute rarity. Not – the music industry has gone down in flames and no one knows how to navigate that world any longer. Not – the economy is in shambles due to sub-prime mortgages and somehow this means gas prices are going to trying to compete with those in Europe. No, people are actually praising the state of television. This impresses me.

What is baffling is that it took so long for the people making television to wise up to a few facts. First, television is better suited (over film) to telling certain kinds of stories. No brainer, right? If you need a long gestating story where a slow burn will really pay off, do you do it with 24 episodes or two hours? Second, that people who are investing the amount of time television shows require actually want substance. I’m not criticizing any particular program but this realization that you can tell more complex stories with television is another overdue revelation. Of course you can delve into the motivations and the psyche of characters better if you have more time with them. Third, and lets make it the final point, television is being allowed to take a little time to develop stories. This may feel similar to the first point but the difference lies in how television shows are being made and who is paying for them. Now that there are different stations/companies/providers making this content they are no longer as tied to advertising and having an immediate viewership. At a time when every movie is being called a failure or a success based on their Thursday night box office receipts, it is fantastic that companies like Netflix and Amazon – never mind cable stations, are doing away with the similar measure of success for television. And this all means that shows can take their time to tell their stories, or tell them in different ways.

So what I really think is – great but what took you so long? And, I also suspect that most people making television now still lack the sophistication, confidence and wherewithal to actually commit and tell amazing stories. Even something as revered and lauded as Breaking Bad fell prey to so many of the pitfalls of a show that runs for five seasons. Who is Sklyer, what skills/ambitions does she have and what kind of person is she? It depends on the season and what the writers felt they needed to make her in relation to her husband. I don’t mean to target this show in particular I just think it is a prime example of a good but imperfect television show. If we all continue to take television seriously I think shows like Breaking Bad will continue to improve and ultimately be more fulfilling. It is exciting.

Question of the Week #4


You seem to be interested in different kinds of writing. How does blogging fit into your mindset of being a writer?


To be perfectly honest blogging feels a bit like cheating. I put thought into what I share on this site but nothing like what I would put into an essay or a story. That being said for a time I was attempting to do that with the pieces I wrote on this site. The tone was not conversational, I attempted to be (somewhat) formal and each item I published I tried to give a little nudge to make it slightly better than a piece of disposable writing. Did I succeed? I don’t know. Did I write much? As you can see I did not.

So now I am attempting to write more, in a style that is imperfect so I can relax a little bit and have some fun with blogging. My goal is to have this in addition to the other forms of writing. Much like in how I am attempting to use social media sites I want this site to have something unique, that my Tumblr does not. Blog posts.

So while this form of writing does not necessarily fill me with a great sense of accomplishment it also does not weigh me down and keep me from actually writing. My hope is that it is interesting for other people to read but you can never really know with such things.

Question of the Week #3


What is the best piece of advice you have received?


To me personally the best would be, “Don’t waste your time writing short stories. No one reads them.” Now, did I listen to this advice? Not for a very long time. I wouldn’t say that I regret the time I spent working on my stories, I certainly improved as a writer doing so but I think my time could have been better spent. I find that I no longer read short stories, even in The New Yorker. I just skip them and read articles about Ebola. It is strange and when I stop and think about doing such a thing I do not have a good reason for doing so. The articles are more interesting and rewarding than reading the short story. This is rather depressing to me.

The best piece of advice I have heard that was not directed specifically at me is, “Never half-ass two things always whole-ass one.” Mind you this is from the show Parks and Recreation but I think the advice is solid nonetheless. I am guilty of violating this advice on a near daily basis. There is always a “good reason” for doing so but at the end of the day the reason always falls short. If I spent less time on videos and short films and more writing I would have better, finished work that I do not currently have. And vice versa. Instead I bounce between the two and everything takes much longer to complete because the rhythms and flows are constantly being disrupted.

So there it is, don’t waste time on something that no one wants (if your purpose is to sell it and have a career based of these works) and focus on doing one thing well. Now if I could only live by this great advice…

Question of the Week #2

Week two where I attempt to answer the big questions about what I do…


Will you be writing any stories pertaining to robots/androids in the near future?


Probably not. It isn’t that I don’t find these stories interesting, I do.  I tend to not write science fiction stories. Mostly because I am not a science person, so all of the ideas and themes that go with space exploration tend not to interest me. The other stories, usually about artificial intelligence do interest me but I am not sure how much is left to discuss and delve into regarding these stories.

I would like to be clear though, I do like the idea of writing stories that are part of genres and sub-genres. There is something quite freeing about working within the structures they provide. I can see how that seems like a strange answer but truthfully the most difficult part of storytelling is keeping the reader/watcher/listener engaged. One wonderful way to do so is by using a familiar structure (writing a murder mystery for example) and then doing something unexpected (having no one at the party being interested in the murder and the investigation not interrupting the party). Which is to say that if you work within the confines of a genre but make alterations to the structure your reader is familiar with they will most likely be intrigued enough by these changes to see where the story takes them. All of this assumes that you come up with an interesting premise of course, which my murder mystery most likely is not. The question though was particularly about robots and androids so let me finish on that topic.

Some excellent writers have been exploring the ideas of what it means to be human, using robots and androids developing consciousness, for quite some time now and doing it quite well. If I felt I had something to add to the discussion I certainly would try. At present I think anything I could say has already been said and quite well.

Question of the Week #1

Hello all,

In an effort to be better about posting on a regular basis I am devising methods to help me do so. One of these will be answering a question, on any topic really, on a weekly basis. So here goes…


The terms of your imprisonment dictate you can only listen to music containing one instrument. What would it be?


The piano, no question. There is no other instrument that has the range. Would I be missing something like the drum or guitar? You bet. But the piano would allow for any kind of music and in prison that is not a terrible deal.