Go learn something new somewhere new and have a new treat.
I went and got my hairs cut Saturday. I walked in, put my name on the list, and waited for a hair cutress. I don’t think that’s the job title that they prefer, but it seems appropriate this early in the morning. She asked me if I wanted my normal buzzcut, but that’s not what I got last time, so I told her I wanted to keep my part, but I just needed my hair shorter. As she turned to get tools out of her cabinet she asked, “So you want a comb over?”
What I heard was, “So you don’t want a comb over?” I thought she was joking because in my mind a comb over is for balding men hiding baldness. I’m a balding man embracing baldness. I’m not that bald, I’m also not that ‘thick’ up front any more.
So she began trimming and all was well until the clippers went zipping through major parts of the hair I thought my prescribed haircut needed. I was surprised, but I think I hid it pretty well. She finished and I paid and then called Jessica on the way out of the parking lot (on speaker phone, Trint) to let her know I did not get the haircut she was expecting. That way she could have time to prepare for this:
Have you ever wanted to write a screenplay? Me neither. But if you didn’t want to write a screenplay, have you ever wanted to write a story? How about a short story? Essay? A Tweet? A Haiku? Nothing? OK, this book is not for you.
I figure only a subset of humans want to tell stories that are fictional outside of the dog eating homework genre. But if you put your mind to becoming the next Stephen King, Steven King, or Phteven King, consider checking out the book Story (amazon link). I was listening to the Michael Hyatt podcast and he listed 10 books that were most influential to him and one of them was this book Story. Since I subscribe to Audible I thought I’d check it out eventually (I have an ever growing wishlist over there) and what I found most fascinating is that of all the books on Michael’s list, this one was less business oriented. Unless you’re in the business of telling stories, I guess.
The power of the book lies in how the author grabs onto the demands of a professional story teller and pushes them into the reality of the job. And then pushes some more to get them to hone their craft. And then pushes them some more to keep honing their craft. He made a statement that really got my attention [paraphrased because it’s an audiobook]:
The reason Hollywood is putting out the movies with the plots that it is putting out is because this is the best writing that they can find. They would love more and better writers.
Now, please don’t quote me on that, but that was the gist of the sentence that almost caused me to stop mid-run and post the quote to facebook. I believe this was a jarring first point in the book to begin digging into the craft of story telling in movies (and in part other forms of story telling).
After laying down his perspective so tersely the author leans in and pushes in towards how to fix this problem. Along the journey he points out other issues like audiences not being able to follow, authors wanting to add in irrational or unexplainable twists, and the need to write characters just the right way so that the writer doesn’t over build something that will become a distraction or leave the audience wondering why so much energy was put into someone so unimportant.
This book is a great introduction to thinking through fiction, thinking through your audience, and thinking through story quirks. If you find the analysis of stories, the analysis of the writing, and analysis of movies interesting, you definitely need to check this out. It’ll ruin every movie you’ll ever watch 😉
What’s the most important thing you could be doing right now? It could be reading this blog (I’m skeptical of that myself). The book Essentialism (Amazon Link) is a focused book about the idea of doing just the most important thing. For now. The point is not that you can do more things, but that you can do the most important thing and, as the author Greg McKeown says, “less, but better.”
What I found the book challenged me to think about, that I’ve wrestled with for some time, is really putting some grey matter into thinking about what I really want to do with my life and then actually cutting out the things that are not that. Not to the harm of others, not to be ascetic or to be removed from the world around me, but to push forward in some way that will put a dent in history and leave behind something that is life changing for future generations. I suppose everyone searches for those sorts of things (or maybe not?), but the book has pushed me into considering the opportunities or commitments I have said no to, I have assumed as defaults, or that have me unnecessarily trapped. In short it has asked me to dig deeper into my thought life and sense of purpose.
So far I’ve basically come to the conclusion that I need to
- Work on discipline
I know it’s a short list, but the purpose of the book is to work on the most important thing. Which is singular, not plural, and is required to be the most meaningful thing you could work on. Discipline requires me to focus on less, but do better on the smaller list. So I will try to be disciplined and then we’ll see how we go from there.
About the book: I really enjoyed this book and recommend you consider getting it. There’s a lot of valuable perspective in the book and I think it will really challenge today’s modern workforce to say no more, but to get better work done. It will challenge todays relationships to be picky about their commitments so that the ones that they do have are extra rewarding. The audiobook is read by the author, and he’s quite listenable.
I haven’t been on facebook at all this last week and it’s been liberating.
This habit is likely to continue.
Mega-church naming suggestion: avoid naming your organization things that don’t imply most small towns outside of the city are smaller than your weekly attendance. Calling your behemoth congregation, “The Village,” Or “Hillside Family Fellowship,” when you can seat a basketball arena’s worth of attendees is misleading. When the likelihood your attendees will run into a familiar face increases with the number of, “where are you sitting?” texts they send you need to help people understand how vanilla things are giing to be. Go with something like “church of the 80-20 rule.” Or “Jesus loves our headcount fellowship.” If that doesn’t work try something more medium sized like, “church of the wholly ambiguous,” or, “The Catholic Church.” [JUST KIDDING THE CATHOLICS ARE HUGE]. Also consider going with J.P. Morgan/Chase/Church.
When I was a kid I went through a bbq sauce phase. I would eat anything with bbq sauce on it. Then I moved to Texas as an adult and could not fathom why someone would ruin their Texas bbq with slathered sauce coating the delicious bbq. Apparently I’ve grown up somewhat. However, in Texas is a place called freebirds, and they have bbq sauce in their burritos and it is amazing. It’s a funny thing, but I dig it.
I realized in a bout of insomnia that I have a bucket list problem. I live with some wierd internal regrets that are not useful in function or legitimate in source. I really wanted to grow up to be a rock star musician when I was a teenager. It was on my bucket list that I record an album and every year I tell myself, “This will be the year.” And then it isn’t.
I have two months left until I’m 37, and I no longer want to be famous, I just want to leave something behind. And with that in mind my bucket list is dumped out. I will try to record some music, I’ve recorded some already, but really I need to do what’s important to get to the next phase of maturing. And that doesn’t need regrets or an album. Besides, who buys albums any more?
Behold the waffle song, a song I recorded despite not wanting to put it on an album.
I have coded with some difficulty lately. I’ve been wrestling with the code. But it isn’t because the code is hard, it is because it must be good. It must be better thought out. It must be the best I can produce.
This has lead to less code over all, but that code has been cleaner, easier to read, and makes my life much easier because of those things. It’s part of my attempt to continue to be a craftsman.
1) write the tests to break my code
2) write my code until it works
3) write that code cleaner and better
This isn’t revolutionary by any stretch, but I’ve been disciplined about it, and that’s been key. Discipline is revolutionary.