In 2017, I formally started my dream to become a writer. I self-published a book, wrote for various websites, had TV/radio/online interviews, attended conferences, etc. But the whole time, something felt off.
People that know me know, when I commit to something, I overcommit. Whether it’s growing up playing sports and teaching myself piano, to getting into the business school and landing a decent job, to traveling and working long hours as a consultant, writing a book, and planning a wedding in the same year. Hell, even if a buddy says, “hey, we should go to Mexico over New Years”, if I commit, I’ll be sipping Tecates in Mexico on New Years Eve whether the buddy comes or not.
But when I decided to pursue a dream in writing, for the first time in my life, I didn’t give it my all. I went through the motions. I under committed.
I stopped posting online, I stopped caring about book-sales and marketing, I pretty much just stopped. I accepted my fate and ignored my own advice. The only thing I didn’t stop was writing, but instead of having pride in it, I ghost-wrote blog entries for websites but wouldn’t share them on my personal accounts, I wrote pages and pages of fake-articles that I would delete after reading them, and I started a new book series, finishing book one last July.
Why didn’t I commit?
For starters, life events took priority. I bought a condo, got married, had a honeymoon, lost a mother-in-law, a grandma, and a grandma-in-law, had two surgeries, was involved (as a witness…) to a felony burglary case, and spent more time in airplanes and hospital rooms than I did my own bedroom… and that was the first six months post-book release.
Side hustles seem pretty insignificant when life hits you in the face. But that’s never stopped me before, so that couldn’t be the sole reason.
Why didn’t I commit?
It took some time, but part two falls directly on me. I lazily wrote a book with a story too close to reality, that for some, blurred the line between a fiction and a tell-all book. I even could tell it was becoming a thing two weeks after my book came out. And to those people, it got uncomfortable and I felt weird continuing to market a book that was unsettling for some. When you combine this apprehension with life-events that deserved priority, you get a feeling of embarrassment placing any level of importance in your writing.
This embarrassment and lack of pride sat with me for months and months. But I never doubted my writing. I’m still proud of From Bud to Blow. The professional reviews I’ve received have been amazing, friends/family loved it, and people I’ve never met before rated it well. But as Adam Grant says, it wasn’t self-doubt, it was idea doubt. But I wasn’t prepared emotionally or had the time to creatively fix it.
Over the past year I’ve gotten a new job, written a new book (with zero chance of any confusion with reality…), and was fortunate to have a beautiful baby daughter. I don’t know if these life changes have cleansed myself of that tornado of a time period or washed away that lingering anxiety, but whatever it is, I’m done under committing.
My dream is still to become a writer and I have no doubts in my ability to become one. I’m going to post my blogs/articles, I’m going to be active on social media, and when book one of my new book series comes out, I’m going to market it with pride. Because fuck it… I’m overcommitting.
And if you want to hop-on for the ride, the first round of Dirty-Birds in Mexico is on me.
Bernie is the left’s Trump. Everyone makes that lazy argument. Sounds cute to say. On the surface it checks out too. Both New Yorkers, both white men in their 70’s, both went against Hillary in 2016, etc. But after Super Tuesday, it’s been validated. But what makes them so similar and what makes them so different, has nothing to do with themselves as individuals. It’s their supporters. It’s their political parties.
In 2016, Trump ran on an anti-PC campaign to break up the republican establishment. He resonated with folks who felt left out of the political landscape. Folks fed up with having to tip-toe around every conversation with friends and co-workers. Folks who longed for the good ol’ days. For the first time in their lives, there was a presidential candidate who said out loud what they had been saying in private for decades. It was empowering. His supporters were brash and they were angry. Any candidate that went after Trump, his supporters turned on with the ferocity of a swarm of bee’s. Any negative media his way was coined as Fake News. Anything damaging that sprung up, his supporters would generate some conspiracy theory, redirecting the attention toward something or someone else.
In the 2016 campaign, Trump’s supporters created a protective barrier around him, and anyone not inside the walls of Trump were considered the enemy.
In 2020, Bernie is running on campaign to break up the democratic establishment. He is resonating with the youth and minorities who feel left out of the political landscape. Folks fed up with being talked down to and mistreated. Folks who long for a new era in America. For the first time in their lives, there is a presidential candidate who says out loud what they have been pleading for decades. It's empowering. His supporters are brash and they are angry. On Super Tuesday though, I watched Bernie supporters turn on the other candidates. I watched them blame the media anytime they reported Biden won a state. I watched them stir-up conspiracy theories to explain what was happening. Bernie’s supporters were building their barrier.
But the biggest difference between Trump and Bernie supporters, is the political parties.
The Republican party Trump was trying to tear down, didn’t fight back. They joined his army.
The Democratic party Bernie is trying to tear down, took a swing this past week. They’re fighting his army.
Bernie’s supporters are trying hard on Twitter to organize their bee’s to attack Biden. They are trying to blame the media for bias reporting. They are trying to make this a conspiracy theory. But when you run against the establishment, you can't cry when the establishment doesn’t roll over. It feels manufactured.
The Democratic establishment isn’t just not rolling over and letting Bernie rub their belly, they are organizing, they are fighting. But will whoever is still standing after the Democratic war of 2020 be enough to fight Trump’s army? I don't know... politics are weird.
The Illinois primary is in two weeks. I honestly don’t know which candidate I will support. It’s going to be interesting whether Bernie supporters double-down on their wall or open the gates to let the establishment in. Or whether the establishment offers a peace deal to Bernie and meet policy in the middle. But one thing I do know for sure; as the Democratic establishment battles Bernie’s army, Trump’s supporters are strengthening his walls, and the Republican establishment is inside the castle ready to attack.
I’ve heard my entire life “don’t talk about money, religion, or politics”. Money was easy to understand. You never know if someone feels embarrassed at their lack of net worth, so its best to keep that personal. But religion and politics, it was ingrained at such a young age in public schools that I never questioned it. I guess I stored that wisdom in my brain alongside the other “never questioned” ideas like; say “God Bless You” when someone sneezes, if you bully a little girl growing up it means you like her, and a bunny is Jesus’ resurrection mascot.
So when the topic of religion was brought up a book club last month, apprehension was felt instantly. Like when a co-worker makes a sex-joke in a meeting. That “are we going to let this fizzle out or is someone going to respond” feeling.
A few in attendance knew I was writing a new book series where the first novel touches religion and spirituality in grave detail, so naturally their eyes glanced my direction. I thought my anxiety would turn into panic, like when you make eye contact with a teacher after she asks a question you weren’t listening to. But instead something strange happened.
The second I responded to the atheist’s opinion, I felt relief.
I was born and raised Catholic, so I talked about my feelings toward the Bible but also explained why it allows for so much doubt. I brought up a key theme in my upcoming book, that religion is one of the only things in mankind that has not evolved since it’s inception. And that lack of evolution has caused a whole host of problems from inconsistencies to outdated ideals. But as I spoke, feeling that sense of release, I realized the original pent-up worry had nothing to do with the actual topic itself, but rather the urge to keep quiet,
When it is ingrained in you to not talk religion and politics, you fail to have productive conversations about them. And when you fail to constructively talk about something, you fail to learn different perspectives and your opinions fail to evolve.
Not only has the subject matter of Christianity not changed since the Bible about 2,000 years ago, but we have been taught to not even discuss it. And I’m not just talking about disagreeing, I mean having any conversation whatsoever, even conversations that enhance your faith in God. The only place to discuss religion openly is at Church with people who share mostly the same opinions as you already.
Once the conversation shifted, it became even more clear. That sense of relief was me no longer treating religion differently. Breaking the ingrained shackles of restraint and being able to talk freely and honestly with someone who had different viewpoints. And all I needed was a few glancing eyes my way to give me that approval to speak openly.
The lack of religious evolution has been amplified by our general societal norm to not discuss it, but if we all begin to speak openly and respectfully about it, we’ll be able to progress our beliefs like we do any other aspect of our society.
The political landscape is as perplexing as ever and people’s beliefs in God and religion are becoming just as confusing, and the common denominator is “stay away from politics and religion.” We need to learn how to talk about these topics at a young age, not taught how to suppress them.
And if we’re speaking openly about areas we never questioned before… watch out Easter Bunny, you’re next.
"The book was better than the movie". It's such a common phrase it should be a disclaimer on most adapted screenplays. But the idea behind it has always fascinated me. Why is the book generally considered better than the movie? (…and why does everyone feel obligated to share their opinion about it!?)
The obvious difference with books vs movies is the element of descriptive language vs visuals. It’s so obvious it feels stupid to write. The setting in a book is explained over multiple pages to visualize the protagonist walking into a strip club. But a movie can accomplish the same feet as fast as it takes the actor to open the club’s door with a subtitle that reads “San Antonio, 2006”.
But what book readers mean when they say, “the book was better than the movie”, most times, has nothing to do with this visualization and has everything to do with the meaning behind it.
The book has the ability to illustrate poetically the protagonists struggle with alcoholism, the sexual abuse growing up that led to a life of self-hatred, and the alienated daughter who now works at that strip club. But the movie would have to utilize out-of-context dialogue or several flashbacks with actors of different ages selling the exact emotions the book portrays to get the same emotional response, all in all, to show the same scene of the protagonist walking back into the San Antonio strip-club in 2006. Most movies don’t have time for all of these details, so they’ll trim them down to only what’s important to push the plot forward. Leaving the book readers thinking, “it feels like they are flying through the book!”
Movies/TV shows can visualize easier, books can elaborate easier, and the movies and TV shows that understand this are the ones that succeed. Enter, The Outsider.
If you haven't read it, please do… Stephen King wrote it, and that's all you should need to know. But I digress…
Jason Bateman adapted Stephan King’s book, The Outsider, into an HBO series. And instead of trimming it, he expanded it. Making it a TV show and not a movie allowed him the freedom to incorporate the details Stephen King uses over his 600+ pages, but it also allowed him to add characters and scenes that would have taken Stephen King another 200 pages to add in.
Without spoiling the book or the show, I’ll keep with the strip club analogy. Jason Bateman was able to add a scene of the alienated daughter crying holding her phone that shows the Dad had tried texting her 20 times over the years without her response. Jason Bateman was able to add the club owner character and her friend by showing a scene of the club owner handing the daughter drugs in an attempt to console her and the look of despair on her friend’s face when she accepts them. He used his ability in film to set a scene faster, to in turn add more scenes quickly that added layers to the characters stories, layers that would have taken the book several chapters to accomplish.
Stephen King downplays the unrealistic aspect of The Outsider the whole book, which makes this horror novel feel more like a unique true-crime book. But downplaying the fantasy aspect also caused the ending to feel forced. However, Jason Bateman being able to visualize the unrealistic aspects more subtly throughout is setting up for a more gratifying ending.
In a story about an unknown being and the emotions around coming to grips with reality, descriptive details are important, but so are the visuals, and Jason Bateman knew this. He perfected The Outsider. And I have to say, so far, the show is better than the book.
We’re told in high school to figure out what we want to do for the rest of our lives, so we can be taught the necessary skills in college and eventually start our careers. But how the hell does a 16-year-old know what his 30-year-old self wants to be doing? Can you imagine if you had to follow every high school idea you ever had? I for one would be married to a drastically different person. But then why should we follow our high school self’s ideas when it comes to a career?
In high school, most of us just try and fit in, never straying too far from center. Following our parent’s advice all the way to college where we choose a career path, that again, doesn’t stray too far from center. Flash-forward 10 years and you’re a consultant or a sales guy in a career you don’t love, wishing you had pursued sports writing, acting, law, music, investment banking, or even cooking. You may regret the years when you prioritized having a good time with friends over mastering your passion, wondering if it’s too late to turn back. But is it? When is it time to give up your dream?
To answer this question, each of us has to view our lives as a long path through the woods. We all start on a one-lane path, then eventually it splits, we choose a direction to follow and continue on that path for years and years. Each passing year enjoying new things, making new friends, getting promoted, starting a family, while the other alternative path gets further and further away. So then if one day you think you don’t like the path you’re on, the only way to switch to the other path and to follow your dream, is to turn around and go all the way back to when the path split. Strip it all down and go back to the fork in the road. Giving up most of the things you enjoyed/gained along the way. Because if you’ve ever gone hiking before, not all of your friends and family will be thrilled or will even follow you when you turn around.
So the short answer? It’s never too late to give up on your dream. But the further along in your life, the more you’ll have to give up and the harder it will be to get back to the beginning. So if you are prepared to give up some friends, family, your job, and think you have the years of patience to go back to the beginning and even more years of patience to then pursue a different career path, then by all means, follow your dream. But like most of us, if you don’t want to sacrifice everything you’ve accomplished, then luckily there is an alternative. Just tweak your dream a little.
When we’re young we have wild expectations for our future, and as we age our memories of the past are always better than the reality. That touchdown in high school is now 90 yards instead of 60. That article in the school paper is Pulitzer winning and not just on page 5. So when we picture our dream job, it’s not just as a sports writer, it’s as Mike Wilbon or Bill Simmons. Not just a musician who plays at weddings around town, but the next Bob Dylan. Because why wouldn’t it? It’s our “dream,” right? But instead of sacrificing everything to follow a career path that could lead to a life like Bill Simmons’, just tweak your dream a little to be realistic.
I am a financial consultant whose dream is to be a writer. But I realized I didn’t have the platform to become a JK Rowling or John Grisham overnight. So instead, I tweaked my dream to just publish one book. I removed everything from my daily life I didn’t need, like working out or watching TV, then filled all that new free time with writing. I did this for 28 days straight because after that amount of time, I could at least say I tried. Every hour not working, sleeping, cooking, or doing errands, I was writing. After 28 days I had a couple chapters of my book, From Bud to Blow, and thought it was surprisingly good. So I finished it. And the craziest part? It didn’t even feel like I tweaked my dream at all. It felt like I was JK Rowling.
Because what I realized is, it’s not the fame or fortune that makes it a dream. It’s the act of doing it. Writing is my passion. So holding a book I wrote from cover to cover, was the dream the whole time. No need to sacrifice my family, friends, or even my job to become the greatest writer of our generation, I just needed to follow my passion.
So you’re in real estate but want to be a musician? Then practice guitar every night and on the weekends for 28 days straight and see if you can book a gig. You’re a sales guy who wants to be a brew-master? Then brew beer during your free time. Because the feeling of selling just one 6-pack of your own made beer or hearing applause from the crowd at a bar will feel like the dream.
Is it time to give up your dream? For most of us, yeah probably, because that dream was unrealistic to begin with. But you don’t have to live with regret over a decision you made in high school anymore, because one small tweak and you can still follow your passion on the path you’re currently on.
-- Posted on The Good Men Project
College life is fake life. Class three hours a day (if you even go), nothing on Fridays, smoking and binge watching an entire TV show or drinking till bar close on a Tuesday. It’s a young adult utopia. So how do you transition out of that? How could you possibly survive in the real world? Simple. Tone it down a little.
People act like leaving that lifestyle is some big mystery. I go on recruiting visits to different colleges and get asked all the time “how do I prepare myself for the real world?” or “what can I do to better myself moving forward?” And I just look at these kids and want to tell them “well I’m hungover as shit sitting here right now, so you tell me?” As if I volunteered to go on the recruiting trip to actually recruit and not just drink on my company’s dime at a college campus again. And let’s not even talk about the recruiters themselves. Most were such big partiers in college they couldn’t get the actual job, so they joined the recruiting team.
At some point the phrase “the real life” was created, and since then people have looked down on college kids like they are these incompetent and immature idiots. But how long has it been since you were on the other side of that hate? One year? Three years? Weren’t we all those college kids at some point?
See, the biggest problem I have with “real life” is that the people are actually fake. You can call college life fake all you want. Because it is. It’s a bubble that 18-22 year olds live in for four years, then it pops and they go back to having normal schedules and responsibilities. So sure, it’s fake. But what you can’t say is the people themselves are fake. They are as real as it gets. If I had a group project in college, there was no beating around the bush with scheduling. We would tell each other if we had party plans, admit if we were hungover, call people out if they didn’t do their work, we were real. And we always got everything done on time.
In “real life” people walk around the office like robots and act like they’ve been these true-blood professionals their entire lives. It’s as if their personality is sucked from their body every time they walk in the office. But just three years ago those same people were probably Googling if their company drug tested while waiting to be interviewed by a hungover recruiter. So what happened in three years? Where did their personality go? You ever wonder why company parties get out of control? Because the alcohol turns everyone back from robots to real. And people just aren’t used to being real in the real world.
So ok, yes, you will have to adjust to waking up before noon on a weekday. But you did that from ages 6 to 18. The only difference is now you’ll be getting paid to wake up early. So you’ll live. All you need to do is tone it down a little. Party twice a week not four times. But even then, the older you get the less you want to party. That’s not just Hollywood talk about “getting old.” That shit’s real. It’ll hit you too.
But regardless, a note to college kids reading this: We were you. We still are you. The only difference is we’ve had to slowly add responsibilities to our lives starting the day we graduated. That’s it. There is no rude awakening, nothing you need to prepare yourself for, you just get a job and start working. It’s like starting a new class. The first week is confusing, but they tell you exactly what you need to do, so just do that, learn on the fly, find the right times to slack off, and make sure you always get your shit done. Don’t turn into a robot, don’t get your personality sucked out of you, just be prepared to tone down the vices a little bit.
Ultimately just imagine yourself two years from now… Great, be that guy. Because that guy has gotten you this far.
-- Posted on Namaste Newsline
Everyone thinks internally when they read. Not selfishly, just internally. If I say “my high school gym”, you’ll think of your high school gym or a gym you know well. If I say “I walked into the bar”, your brain will populate the image of a bar you’ve been to. If I say “she was the bitchiest mom I’d ever met”, well, hopefully you don’t think of your own mother. But you get the point. Our brains aren’t complex enough to create new images on the fly. We use ones we already know, and tweak them based on descriptions. But if you know the person who wrote it personally, your brain will see them talking about their high school gym, the bar they go to, and the bitchiest mom growing up.
This is the #1 thing I learned from writing a book. Not the book publishing industry, not how much free time I really did have, but that if I write “ex-girlfriend” my friends will think of my ex-girlfriend. It’s no mystery that I wrote a fictional book that sounds a lot like my life. I was at Indiana University from 2009-2013, I was in ATO during that time (disclaimer: pre-CNN), I went into college with a girlfriend, I was a business major, the comparisons are obvious. But what I thought would happen, was that the people who know me would recognize the comparisons, but see the obvious differences and read the story separately.
“Oh, Brian used his surroundings as a template to create this fictional story.”
– Brian Connor’s naïve thought in February of 2015.
I never sold drugs. I’ve never been to Vegas with my friends. I’ve never even lived in a fraternity house. And people who know me, know this. But somehow their mind populates me into this character, and next thing I know I’m getting asked by a manager at work about what it’s like to get shot at. It’s been surreal.
Strangers who don’t know me might see my picture on the back and use that image as the main character, but we all did that with Harry Potter anyway, so no biggie (um, how fucking lucky was Daniel Radcliffe that he looked like the drawing on the first book?). But strangers don’t think I myself was involved in a drug-ring or was hazed until I bled, because they don’t know who I am so don’t even think about me. But some of my friends think I bled. Friends of friends think I sold coke to fraternities. And it’s really weird.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized it’s because my network doesn’t know fictional writers. Some dude from my high school doesn’t think Suzanne Collins was actually in the Hunger Games or E. L. James is this erotic SMH fiend like the chick from 50 Shades of Grey. Because that high school dude doesn’t know them, so their brain populates other images from their lives. But I guarantee E.L. James’ friends and family view her differently since that came out, and I would bet money that Suzanne Collins’ friends wonder who in her life is Gale and Peeta.
My only response to everyone? I didn't think I was a good enough writer to create this 100% fake universe like George RR Martin did, so I needed a guide. And I used that guide to create this fictional story.
But even then, I wonder if George RR Martin’s friends think he wants to bang his sister?
*Yes I know this is a parody account... still a funny tweet!
This question was asked of me when I had to create some author bio. Yeah that thing. That shit that’s on the back of every book that no one pays attention to. Besides you mom... hello! And thanks for reading! For real though. What do you want to know about me? What do us as readers want to know about the authors we are reading?
Fiction authors take an outrageous amount of time debating word choices, plot structure, character development, hell, even character names, synonyms of the word “said”, etc. Countless hours and hours reading the same shit over and over again trying to get it right. But as the reader, what is “get it right” for the author?
At least for me, when I read a book, it’s cool to understand where the author is coming from. If you read a book about an OJ Simpson-like-lawsuit, is the author a prosecutor? A defense attorney? Was a defendant before? Or maybe just had to do jury duty one time and doodled some story instead of paying attention? What background does the author have that gives him credibility, knowledge, and an interest in what I am reading? Why does he want to “get it right”?
So who am I? Well, I’m very average 26-year-old male from Chicago. 50 percentile height and weight since I was five, two brothers, a sister, a mom, a dad, and a fiancé. My day job is a financial consultant and I started to write this book as an escape from multiple plane rides, nights in hotel rooms, and general motivation for wanting to become a writer. Very very very average right? But what’s my background that gives me credibility, knowledge, and an interest in what you hopefully have or will read?
Well for credibility purposes, again, I’m a 26-year-old average male. Which means I know about drugs in 2017. I’m not some fiend or anything, but I mean, I’ve been to several EDM concerts, college house parties, well, just imagine yourself at 26. You get it. Knowledge? I went to Indiana University from 2009-2013, was in a fraternity and graduated with a Finance major. And a psychology minor, but really, those were just the easiest Gen-Ed classes so I took a bunch of them and it turned out it was enough for a minor. So I am very well-versed in that lifestyle. Interest in the topic? I don’t have a great answer for you here. I have never had some found respect for drug dealers or anything, or sympathy for people who get hazed, I just understand the college lifestyle from 2009-2013 really really well, and always thought it was super entertaining, so wrote a fake story emulating it.
So who is Brian? He’s a kid who followed his passion during his spare time to write a story he knows a lot about. He’s credible, he’s knowledgeable… mom this is where you stop reading… he’s lived it.
So why did I want to get this right? Because I love to write. So I hope you love to read it.