A freelancer like those of yore, I write and edit for cold hard cash from the highest bidder in the land -- or just the occasional kind word. You can find links to my scrivenings at https://chrisbarsanti.net/.
Fyre was supposed to be the great music festival of 2017. Instead it turned into a social media schadenfreude disaster. Now Chris Smith (of American Movie fame) made a documentary out of it. Sometimes we get lucky that way.
Fyre opens in limited release and will be available on Netflix this Friday.
The video ads for the Fyre Festival looked amazing when they first rippled through the Instagram feeds of influencer models like Bela Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski in late 2016. For a certain kind of status-seeker, marooned somewhere cold and just waiting for the next warm-climate EDM gathering, the marketing for the music festival promised a bro heaven populated only by models…
Successful writers have their preferred tools. A kind of pencil. Style of desk. The best music to run in the background.
Some writers looking for ways to get ahead in the game often go looking for answers in those habits. They will be frustrated, because whatever works for one writer likely will be dead on delivery for another. Take word processing.
According to the New Republic‘s Joseph Livingstone, word processing was a nascent technology through the 1970s into the early 1980s. By 1984, many writers (Anne Rice, Michael Chabon) had switched to using the new program WordStar. A pre-DOS application, its basic text look appears downright Paleolithic today.
Nevertheless, a number of authors in the genre field continue to use WordStar today. Why? Because they like writing on it. Consider George R. R. Martin. He uses the no-frills WordStar to write all his fantasy doorstoppers.
If something helps you write, stick with it. Even if that means giving up on spellcheck.
Hard times are coming,” author Ursula K. Le Guin said in her fiery 2014 speech accepting the National Book Foundation award. Her tone was somehow somber, yet also chipper, as though she had already acknowledged the worst and now was girding for battle. She was fixing her bayonet in bright spirits and about to go over the top…
Matt Zoller Seitz is one of our greatest critics. That means he doesn’t just have a vivid viewpoint on movies but that he’s first and foremost a lucid, enjoyable, and thoughtful writer.
In a piece he published on RogerEbert.com a few years back that listed some great advice for young critics just starting out—including “Just write, damn it”—this point stood out:
Always make your editor’s life easier, not harder. This is a job, not just a pursuit. Your bosses do not exist to make you feel good about yourself. They have to crank shit out, and a lot of them don’t care how brilliant it is if it comes in late or has accuracy or structural problems that they have to solve. Journalism isn’t filled with just-OK writers because that’s what editors want. It’s filled with just-OK writers because editors don’t want to have to put out fires after regular office hours unless there’s a damned good reason. So hit your deadlines. Turn in copy that’s as smart and clean and exciting as can be under the circumstances. Take responsibility for your words…
It’s almost impossible to say how important this is. Unless you’re out there blogging or self-publishing on your own with nobody looking over your shoulder, we all have editors. And we should. They’re the helpful folks who keep us writers from making fools out of ourselves with sloppy spelling, errors of speed (“its” when you mean “it’s”), and so on.
Be nice to your editors so that they can focus on making your writing better, not just cleaning up mistakes. Writing is a solitary activity that must turn into a team sport if you’re going to go anywhere with it.
Since it’s the end of the year, and there’s only so much champagne one can drink while watching Andy Cohen/Anderson Cooper and hoping that 2019 will show 2018 how things should have gone, it’s time to look back at some of the best that the year that was had to offer.
To that end, I contributed some pieces to a few different publications who make a point of cataloging this sort of thing:
Writing was never work for me. It had been the same for as long as I could remember: turn on the radio to a classical music station, light a cigarette or cigar, open the bottle. The typer did the rest…
Open the bottle, turn on the radio, have a smoke. Or find your own routine. Do what you need to do to let the words flow.
As they say, if you love your work, you never have to work a day in your life.
Now that we’re almost to January, it’s time to take a look back at the year that was, movie-wise. My accounting of the best movies to hit screens, big and small, in 2018, was published at Eyes Wide Open:
The more things changed at the movies in 2018, the more they stayed the same. The year’s biggest box office hit was Marvel’s Black Panther, which finally smashed the old rule that white actors were required to head up superhero stories. Crazy Rich Asians proved that perfectly mediocre romantic comedies (which should not be taken as a criticism, it’s been a moribund genre for a while) didn’t require white casts for relatability; glossy shopping montages and feisty showdowns between a bride-to-be and her fearsome future mother-in-law translate across all cultures…