Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why I Want to Punch the Word "Networking" In the Face

Resistance is futile...
I've been spending a fair amount of time on The LinkedIn lately, reading discussion threads, jumping in when I feel like I have something to contribute, but mostly just trying not to throw things at my computer screen.

Why the urge toward monitor abuse, you ask? Because of networking.

God I hate that word. I hate it. It's a stupid word and it deserves to be punted into the sun, like synergy and leverage (unless you're using leverage to describe the way the Incredible Hulk held up that mountain during the Secret Wars, then it's cool.)

Networking. Gah. Whatever happened to being a person? Whatever happened to having friends? When did we all become nodes?

I see long LinkedIn threads with suggestions like "Let's all Like each other's profiles!" or "Let's all subscribe to each other's Twitter feeds!" and it makes me want to smack the internet.

Is this what we've come to? Just blindly and arbitrarily accumulating critical social mass in the hopes that someone, somewhere will be our ticket to the promised land?

Screw that. 

Look, I get it. I know that it's good to meet people, make connections, hobnob and all that jazz. It all just seems a bit mercenary sometimes, like that guy you meet at a party at 9:00pm and who, by 9:03, has already asked you to recommend him to someone you know. You met him three minutes ago, and he's already trying to pole vault off of you and up to the next level.

You probably hate people like that, but at least they have the guts (or complete lack of judgement) to peddle their wares in person. The internet gathers up hordes of people like that, strips them of all semblance of accountability, injects them with the rage virus, and points them straight at you.

Maybe this sounds like I'm telling everyone to get off my lawn. I'm not. Not at all. If you want to engage me as a person, chat, trade ideas, stop, collaborate, and/or listen, I'm in.

But if you're asking a crowd of complete internet strangers to link to you or Like you or retweet you or introduce you to Steven Spielberg, sight unseen, then please just stop. It's tacky. I know everyone is doing it, but you remember those lawn ornaments that looked like an old lady bending over in her bloomers? Everyone was doing that, too. That didn't make it ok.

I guess what I'm saying is, if you don't like my stuff, don't Like my stuff. Let's all keep our honor intact and fight the good fight.

I recently read Stephanie Palmer's Good in a Room, and it was the first time in a long time (or maybe ever) that I'd read a book about networking that didn't make me feel like I was learning how to seduce a game show host.

I highly recommend it.

(And no, she didn't ask me to.) 

Image: renjith krishnan /

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Writer, Sell Thyself

I've hit a bit of a wall the past couple days.

If you tuned in for last week's hair-raising episode, you know that our hero (that would be me) is now unemployed and working to get his creative career back on track after about 20 months of not-so-fulfilling work.

And that's nice, isn't it? It is downright precious.

Now comes the part that I knew would take me out at the knees, the part that I've been dreading from 100 yards off and am now facing, its dripping putrid maw mere inches away from my somewhat less putrid maw.


Jeezus, the mere term provokes a gag reflex, doesn't it?

Dear world,

I am awesome.


That's about the size of it, huh? Convince the world that you are fantastic while secretly wrestling with the deep and highly personalized doubt monsters that tell you otherwise. These monsters know where I live. They know all my weak spots. They can poke me with their scaly little fingers and I'll go rigid and silent while the world walks by, oblivious.

It's not that I haven't been working on a plan. I have. Build up my website. Get more samples online. Crank out some new spec screenplays. Query producers. Gently re-enter the game writing market. It looks great on paper. But in my head it goes more like this:


Which is not entirely productive.

Anyway, working on it. Tips and suggestions and swift blows to the head would be appreciated.

(Found the picture online in 2000. No idea where. If you own it or know who does, lemme know. My internal dialogue is the raccoon. I'm the dog. In case that wasn't clear.)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Into the Wild Blue Thingy

So, you know that scene in the movie where the guy rips off his tie and says "I quit!" and then he goes off to fight crime or become a spy or something?

I basically just did that. Except I don't wear a tie. And fighting crime is hard when you cringe away from every punch and scream "Not in the face! Not in the face!"

But aside from that, it was just like that.

Okay, it wasn't really like that at all. Except that I did leave my job, and now I am boldly facing the future with what I hope is the barest minimum of pants-wetting.

So what happened?

It's a weird sensation to watch your own life slip away from you. You do the same thing, day after day, knowing that you're not really moving in the right direction but somehow rationalizing it, like maybe at some point you'll be able to tack into the wind and make up lost ground. Or water. Lost water. Whatever.

Only, the where and how of that little TBD miracle remains a bit vague. And the reason I think it's vague is because you're kidding yourself. I mean, I was kidding myself, at least. I have no idea what you're doing.

But I was kidding myself.

Maybe it was fear of failure, or the seductive quality of the path of least resistance, but I wasn't tacking into a damn thing. I was in a rut. And if there's something I believe about ruts, it's that you can rut yourself right through old age and into the grave. Like a really poorly-designed flume ride. 

I always felt like, if I just had the chance to step outside my own life for a while, catch my breath and get my bearings and just look the hell around, I could figure out what to do. What to really do. Dooooooo.

I'm not sure how else to emphasize that word, but it's the heart of the whole enchilada (I apparently now eat organ-meat enchiladas...). What I was doing before was writing, technically, but it left me feeling frustrated and empty. It didn't feel like what I supposed to be doing.

Now I've stopped doing that, which feels great. And I believe, honestly if a bit shakily, that I can succeed by writing what I want to write, and how I want to write.

Well, my money is officially in the space previously occupied by my mouth. I have a family to support, a house to keep, and a lot of big ideas about how my career is supposed to go. We will see if all of these things converge nicely on the horizon, or if I will soon be panhandling at a corner near you.

Like Indiana Jones, I'm making this up as I go along. Unlike Indiana Jones, I don't look like Indiana Jones.

But I do have friends. I have been shocked and humbled and then humbled some more by the number of people who have cheered me on, sent me unsolicited recommendations and references, or told me that they just knew I was wasting my talents before.

If there's one thing this whole situation has taught me, it's that I've got amazing people all around me, and I am truly grateful for them. I have good people in my life. I love my people. I clearly have done something right.

Also, my wife, who has every right to freak the hell out, has not freaked the hell out. She's got my back. Sweetie, when you read this, I want to say that I won't let you down.

I guess that concludes my declaration of independence. Wish me luck. 

(Photo courtesy my amazing wife.)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fun With Headlines, Kim Kardashian Edition

Here's a fun game!

Today, I noticed the headline "Kim Kardashian Flees Australia" on my news feed. It was listed in a long line of other headlines, but the way it was positioned made it seem like a sub-header from the previous story.

So I thought it said this:

Giant Crack Glimpsed in Antarctic Ice Sheet; Kim Kardashian Flees Australia

Which made me realize that almost every headline in the news today is improved by suffixing it with "Kim Kardashian Flees Australia."

Seriously! Try it!

Polish Films, Muppets Fill Special Screens; Kim Kardashian Flees Australia
Awaiting Nukes Report, US Questions Iran's Intent; Kim Kardashian Flees Australia

"Monster" Greenhouse Gas Levels Seen; Kim Kardashian Flees Australia

Michael Jackson Manslaughter Case Goes to the Jury; Kim Kardashian Flees Australia

House Committee Subpoenas Solyndra Docs; Kim Kardashian Flees Australia

Perry Adviser Denies Knowledge of Cain Allegations; Kim Kardashian Flees Australia

G-20 Urges Europe to Quell Crisis as Greece Government Teeters; Kim Kardashian Flees Australia

Apple Acknowledges iPhone Battery Issue; Kim Kardashian Flees Australia

Republicans Block Another Part of Obama Jobs Plan; Kim Kardashian Flees Australia

French Paper Satirizing Islamic Law Hit by Arson; Kim Kardashian Flees Australia

(Okay, maybe this is only funny to me...)