Here’s the #1 lesson you learn working in advertising (and this has stuck with me, to my advantage, my whole working life):
Nobody wants to read your shit.
Let me repeat that. Nobody–not even your dog or your mother–has the slightest interest in your commercial for Rice Krispies or Delco batteries or Preparation H. Nor does anybody care about your one-act play, your Facebook page or your new sesame chicken joint at Canal and Tchopotoulis.
It isn’t that people are mean or cruel. They’re just busy.
[ … ] When you understand that nobody wants to read your shit, your mind becomes powerfully concentrated. You begin to understand that writing/reading is, above all, a transaction. The reader donates his time and attention, which are supremely valuable commodities. In return, you the writer, must give him something worthy of his gift to you.
When you, the student writer, understand that nobody wants to read your shit, you develop empathy. You acquire that skill which is indispensable to all artists and entrepreneurs: the ability to switch back and forth in your imagination from your own point of view as writer/painter/seller to the point of view of your imagined reader/gallery-goer/customer. You learn to ask yourself with every sentence and every phrase: Is this interesting? Is this fun or challenging or inventive? Am I giving the reader enough? Is she bored? Is she following where I want to lead her?
When I began to write novels, this mindset proved indispensable. It steered me away from Client’s Disease. It warned me not to fall in love with my own shit just because it was my own shit. Don’t be lazy, Steve. Don’t assume. Look at every word through the eye of the busy, impatient, skeptical (but also generous and curious) reader. Give him something worthy of the time and attention he’s giving you.
—Steven Pressfield, “The Most Important Writing Lesson I Ever Learned”
Good advice, but who the fuck is Steven Pressfield?
Blunt advice is best. Steven Pressfield writes historical novels, as far as I know, I’ve had one of them on my list for years now due to a friend recommending it.
I only skimmed this after no one cares about your commercial for rice crispies and preparatin H. I am interested. commercials are not big long books or essays. just being blunt
This Pressfield guy sounds like a tool. If he hadn’t written this article back in July, I’d say he was ripping off this article which is written better and by a more respectable guy.
Book #4: The Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman
I’ve had this book sitting around on my shelf for about two years now, I think, and finally got around to reading it this summer. Pretty great read with lots of little jokes that make you feel smart. It’s not a laugh-out-loud book but a smile-quietly-to-yourself-and-look-around-smugly-at-everyone-on-the-train book.
Book #5: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austin and Seth Grahame-Smith
If I may just simply pull a piece from the review at A.V. Club:
Such is the accomplishment of Pride And Prejudice And Zombies that after reveling in its timeless intrigue, it’s difficult to remember how Austen’s novel got along without the undead. What begins as a gimmick ends with renewed appreciation of the indomitable appeal of Austen’s language…
This is an ongoing series chronicling every movie I’ve seen this year that I’ve never seen before. I stole this idea from somebody else.
Movie #16 - O Brother Where Art Thou
This was a Netflix rental I’ve always meant to get to and was the beginning of a real big Coen Bros. kick for me this summer (more on that in a minute). What always really strikes me about these guys is how they can just pick a genre and riff on it and have it be an awesome flick, whether they are being satirical, ironic, or genuine. The only thing I loved more than the look and feel of this movie was the soundtrack.
Movie #17 - Fargo
Continuing the aforementioned Coen Bros. kick. This is probably my favorite movie so far. I re-watched it the next night with my parents who didn’t get it. I got so much out of this movie, I could write an entire post on it. Suffice it to say, I thought it was incredible. So much has been said about this movie, I’ll keep my thoughts, inconsequential as they are, to brief highlights: most notably I thought the reversal of gender roles between Marge and her husband (he paints eventual stamp landscapes and she takes down crazy homicidal maniacs like it ain’t no thang) was central to the ‘comedy’ part of the dark comedy. Also, William H Macy plays THE quintessential unlikable guy.
Movie #18 - Funny People
A lot has been said about how this was two movies in one. It most definitely was. This movie comes to a screeching halt almost exactly half way through and veers off into a different direction. Still, I didn’t hate it, and it’s definitely funny, but as a “film”, it won’t hold up like I think Knocked Up or 40 Year Old Virgin will.
Movie #19 - The Time Traveler’s Wife
The only notable thing about this movie was how not one, but two different people chose to talk throughout the film’s duration, and more importantly, I didn’t do my usual sigh really loudly then do it again then glare then shh technique because the film didn’t warrant any sort of defense (except for the appearance of Rachel McAdams’ bare behind, which is a purely visual treat anyway).
Movie #20 - Ditrict 9
My favorite new release of the summer, without a fucking doubt. The way these guys set up the realism in the first 30 minutes is awesome (if a bit daunting at first) but more notably is how, when switching from the “mockumentary” material to the straight-up “dramatic” material, the “cinema verite*” look of the film doesn’t disappear so it seems like it’s one seemless, true story, right up to the finale when they divert back into the “mockumentary” material. Ebert says they could’ve made the third act more than just regular action movie fluff, and I’m inclined to agree, but otherwise I thought it was awesome.
“The realistic alien movie I’ve been waiting for since Independence Day!” - Ryan Simmons
Movie #21 - The Shining
Another Netflix rental, this one on my parents’ list that I just happened to be there to see. I never watched it start to finish so I stuck around to do so. I realized that past the creepiness… holy shit there really is NO FUCKING PLOT to this movie, is there?
*My apologies for throwing around French film terms - I feel I need to justify my tuition somehow.