Edit – Hey folks, did some thinking since I posted this on Friday and decided to update it now that my thoughts are more well-formed. Enjoy!
Dang, two years in a row. My bad.
Just realized that the deadline for submissions to the San Diego Comic Con were due on Friday and I missed it. I’m disappointed, but maybe it’s for the best. I don’t have any stories about Forest Ackerman or Bone or Deadpool. I don’t want to fit a square peg into a round hole.
Before I tell you my main point, let me tell you a quick story: I got invited to work as an usher for the Lucasfilm sneak preview of Star Wars Episode One back in 199… what was that 9? I think so. Yeah, 1999. Me and three other friends drove up to San Francisco where Lucasfilm rented out a stack of theaters to show the company and special guests (Guys like Steven Spielberg and Robin Williams … more on that in a minute) Episode One five days before anyone else saw it in the theaters. Continue reading
[This blog post was written while listening to ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond [Live]’ by Pink Floyd]
Yesterday, a producer for an upcoming podcast asked me a tough question. ‘We’re finding it hard to reconcile the amount of sci-fi in it with the idea behind our show being a sci-fi based podcast. Could you please explain what you feel is sci-fi about the book?’
When I first started out to write Flotilla, I had no idea that I was also attempting to disrupt the science fiction genre. I just wanted to tell a story that I was curious about. It became apparent along the way that I needed to address some core ideas about sci-fi and incorporate them in the books I wrote. Going through this process let me find a dilemma of sci-fi storytelling that also became an opportunity. Continue reading
I’m really excited about this: a reader sent in this Medium article, talking about how fishermen on the Long Island Sound are starting to use mariculture to create, not only a sustainable food supply but a sustainable economy. Not just a green economy, blue-green economies! This is the start of the type of businesses I envisioned in Flotilla!
They’re calling it ‘ocean agriculture,’ another name for ‘fish farming.’ This is exactly the kind of innovative, throw-back-to-go-forward idea that we need to survive the problems of ecology, overfishing and the simple human need to have something to eat.
Not only that, the author of the article sounds like a guy who’d be right at home on Colony D – it’s a trip! Go check out his article – this is very cool – I’m gonna reach out and tell him about Flotilla … I’ll tell you what happens.
Someone on Twitter asked me an interesting question and I thought it deserved it’s own blog post. Maybe you’ve seen me on Twitter, actively reaching out to new readers to introduce them to Flotilla and wondered ‘why is he doing that?’
It’s a fair question that deserves a cogent answer, and here it is: Real Artists Ship. Continue reading
The train operator’s fuzzy voice jolts us on this dark morning. “Due to the ongoing power issues,” she rasps, “we do not have service at Bay Point station and there is a track issue between West Oakland and Embarcadero station.” We’re riding aboard a junky old electric train under the San Francisco Bay Area, hurtling through the darkness at eighty miles per hour. The cops finger their tasers, everyone else taps at their smart phone.
I want to grab George Lucas, Ridley Scott and put them on a train ride into The City. Every day, coming to work in San Francisco, I’m living in the reality they imagined a couple of decades ago. We’re living in a dystopia now, and we should recognize that uncomfortable truth. Continue reading
Ran across an interview with Sinbad today and wanted to pass along this nugget of wisdom which applies to anyone who is trying to be creative. Not that I agree with everything Sinbad says, but when he was talking about the journey each artist must go through in order to find success, that really resonated with me.
Sinbad, even if you haven’t heard of him in a while, is still out there and doing his thing. You can’t help but respect that. I can appreciate someone like him because he’s open and honest about where he comes from, where other creative people prefer to keep that out of sight and out of mind. On Twitter, sometimes I get some negative feedback regarding how I use Twitter. What I appreciated about this interview is, Sinbad made me feel okay about it. It’s okay to be criticized because it means you’re doing something that is worth being criticized for. I can live with that.
Authentic people try new things, have weaknesses and not only are not afraid to speak about them, but are willing to take the hits while they work on getting better. There are a ton of other little nuggets of wisdom in this clip, so I’m going to step back and let you hear them for yourself.
Part of the job of being a writer is telling other people about what I write. I use different avenues (blogging, radio, social media) and the juice for me is that magic moment when someone gets it. One happy reader can make up for a lot of the negativity and nastiness out there on the Interwebs. This week I met a new reader and they had some very nice things to say about Flotilla:
I really appreciate kind people like Gloria and my other readers who take the time to write reviews of Flotilla and tell their friends. They’re awesome people and they deserve every bit of credit they get.
Breaks my heart to say it, but the Comic-Con in San Jose is starting tomorrow and I won’t be there. Don’t worry: this isn’t a sign of protest or a complaint about Comic-Con. I love it. I hope it lasts a thousand years. No, my reason for not going is a lot simpler, but harder to accept.
Here’s the thing about being a writer: Once you go through the looking glass, there are some things you can’t do anymore. I can’t find the source but I remember John Glenn being quoted as saying “Once you go into space, you can’t go back on the tilt-o-whirl.” Something similar happens when you start producing your own sci-fi. You can’t geek out without dreaming of the day when other people geek out about your stuff. You can’t go to Star Wars Episode Seven without dreaming of the day when you’ll see the credits roll up on your movie.
All that being said, as a writer, my promise to myself is that when I go to Comic Con, it’s as a contributing artist and not as a patron. Six months ago, I applied to do a couple of panels at the Con and was looking forward to being a contributing artist at the Comic Con in my home town. You can’t beat that. Sad to say, my applications weren’t approved – no worries, I’m sure they had their reasons – and so if I went, it wasn’t going to be as a contributor. In my mind, I couldn’t justify going.
I remember a story, years ago, that Adam Carolla told about getting into radio. He said his dream at first was ‘driving the van’ for the station. Jimmy Kimmel quickly encouraged him to set his sights higher and the rest is history. Every creative person has that moment where they can either take the high road or the low road and the choice defines what you’ll eventually become. I’d rather take the high road, the road less traveled, so that I can arrive at the place built for me.
So even though it kills me to say it, I won’t be there. I wish you, Comic-Con, and the amazing sci-fi creators you’ll see, the very best. Con on!
So to recap, I hit a wall after almost a decade of coming into my own as the person who writes and tells his own story. Being that intense person had taken me to a certain point, but now my energy and talent stopped being an asset and started to become a liability. As a friend of mine describes it, ‘You go from zero to TEN very quickly.’
It gets even better: Now that I was ‘the one in charge,’ I had made a world where people felt comfortable letting me be in control of everything. I can’t blame them; Sometimes I scored touchdowns, sometimes I was tackled, but I kept the ball moving forward. It was easier to let me run with the ball then argue with me about the play. Being in control all the time might sound fun until you realize the sheer amount of effort required to keep all the moving parts coordinated. You start giving off the vibe that it’s okay to throw everything over the fence and people reacted to it. I started becoming Dan the Directions Guy. It got to be a bit of a running joke – no matter where I was or what I was doing – people would come up to me and ask me for directions to get some place. I’m not kidding; whether I was at home, in the city or overseas, random strangers would pick me out of a crowd to walk up to and go “Can you help me find … ?” Continue reading