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.
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.