Summertime Rolls


So I haven’t updated my website or social media in a while. Actually, I’ve taken a temporary – possibly long-term – hiatus from social media in general. My New Year’s resolution for 2019 was to spend more time living in the moment. To put the phone and tablet and internet down and focus more on the here and now.

To that end I’m spending a lot of time at the local pool with my child. He’s currently enrolled in swimming lessons which means a daily visit, followed by some recreational time. We’ll head home for lunch, but have frequently found ourselves back at the pool in the afternoon. And why not? The weather is hot, sunny, and dry, so what better place to spend it than at a nice clean municipal pool a five minute walk from our doorstep.

The other reason for the radio silence; I’m writing a new book. One that’s occupying much of my non-parenting time. I’m keeping mum on the details for now, but as it’s set in a pre-internet era, that’s one reason why I’ve given social media the boot. Call it method writing, but I’m trying my hardest to engage with the world in a similar pre-internet era. I keep up with email, because I have to, but I couldn’t tell you what the latest daily outrage on Facebook or Twitter is these days because i haven’t looked at any of it since late March.

[In fact, my advice to writers, artists, all creative types is to ditch the social media entirely but that’s another story for another day. But I will say that your future as a creative DOES NOT depend on social media, and if it does, you probably didn’t have that much of a future at it. The work is what matters. The work. The work. THE WORK.]

As of this writing it’s July 8th. Summer is just getting underway. And I have no plans to return to the daily grind (outside of writing that is – I’m on track to finish the first draft of this new novel sometime in early-mid August) until after Labor Day. Hopefully by September I’ll be able to spill some news on (among other things) the MIXTAPE TV series, this new novel, the relaunch of the MIXTAPE comic, and the future of the MAGICIANS IMPOSSIBLE series.

So until then, have a safe, happy summer. It only comes around once a year. Enjoy it while you can.

20 Years

I’ve been writing professionally for 20 years. The official anniversary would have been February 2 or 3 of this year. That was the start. I haven’t held a regular “day job” since. I’ve been a writer longer than I’ve been anything else. My cumulative school years, from preschool and kindergarten through college were 18 years. In all that time I’ve been doing what I’ve been doing, which is writing.

I was going to do one of those “What I have Learned In 20 years Of Writing” posts, but instead, I want to bring you something called “Things I Wish I’d Done Differently”. So on that note:

  • I would have traveled more

When Robocop went to camera I was paid my production fee, aka the balance of money the production owed me my writing. This was in the form of a Very Large Check With A Lot Of Numbers on it. All in one big lump sum. I did the sensible thing and banked it all, knowing I’d have to manage that money wisely, because by that point my next paying gig hadn’t materialized. But if I could do it over, I would have earmarked some of that money, renewed my passport, and trekked to Europe for a few weeks. That was one golden opportunity I had that I passed up. Because then, as now I was always worried that my good fortune was one bad day from ending forever.

  • I might have taken that day job after all.

My then writing partner took a day job at a local comic book store a couple of years after Robo. Both because money was tight and he needed a little more but also because he’d always wanted to work in a comic book store, to get some experience on a ground level of the comics biz. I kind of wish I’d done something similar – comic book store, bookstore, video store. At that time I didn’t need the money, but could have easily managed my writing at the same time. While the freelance life has forced me to hustle like crazy for work, having a bit of a reliable source of income might have made it all a little less stressful.

  • Those Big Life Decisions would have been made sooner.

I’m a procrastinator and a time delayer. I hate making BIG DECISIONS when times are uncertain. But if I had that do-over I would have gotten married sooner, and started a family sooner. When I got married, it was only a couple of weeks after the honeymoon that the economy crashed and times were tight. We managed okay, but there was a significant drop-off in work on my end. The birth of our child was a happy moment, and even then in the lead up I worried we weren’t ready, that we didn’t have enough money. But believe me when I say there’s never enough money and you never really are ready.

  • I would have diversified earlier.

I had ideas for novels and comics well before I made by debuts with both. I spent my focus on film and TV writing because that was where my main interest lay, and where the money was. But I wish I’d knuckled down on the comics and novels earlier because I feel both of those made me a much better writer.

  • I would have mastered the art of surrender sooner.

I know the adage of not giving up on your dreams. It’s drilled into you. Rejections, passes, dropped by agents, fired by producers. It’s all happened to me. And I’m not saying if I had a do over I’d walk away from this profession at all. But what I would NOT do is make it the be all/end all of everything. Sometimes walking away just means taking a step back from the fire. It means taking that vacation. It means realizing that this project you’ve invested a lot of time and effort in really isn’t going anywhere. It would also mean not swallowing the many lies spun by the snake oil merchants out there. If it seems too good to be true that’s because it is.

  • I would have realized experience is greater than things.

I own a lot of books. And movies. And CDs. Because I didn’t travel much in those earlier years I spent my leisure money on those things. I couldn’t afford Hawaii or wherever, but I could afford that three disc special edition. And now I’m just trying to get rid of a lot of them. Take books. Of all the books I own that I’ve read I very rarely have given them a second read. So in the last move I culled maybe 20% of them. I know the bibliophiles out there just screamed in horror, but to them I ask: what’s more valuable; the book, or the story that book contains? Once you’ve read it, do you still need it? This year I’ve really embraced all my local library has to offer. eBooks. Borrowed books. As of this writing I’ve read 35 books, graphic novels, etc all thanks to my library. Varying degrees of difficulty, but the point is I’ve read them. While I still buy books movies music et al it’s to a lesser degree than before. I’d rather save my money for experiences, even if they’re the local variety.

  • I would have trusted my gut more, personally and professionally.

Holding onto relationships, be they personal or professional well past their expiry date helps nobody. It hinders you. When those relationships turn toxic as in “this person is working behind the scenes against me” its best to sever ties immediately and without preamble. I’ve ended more friendships than the ones I’ve maintained. I’ve severed business relationships just as fast, especially when I realize that there’s no more opportunity in it. Of course I’ve done these well after the point I was aware I should have but held onto because I’d convinced myself a toxic relationship was still a relationship and better to have that than to have nothing. I was wrong. You’ll lose months if not years trying to be something to someone you aren’t. All that does is make you miserable.

  • I would have tackled those passion projects sooner.

Mixtape was a passion project. Magicians Impossible was also a passion project. And to read both you can kind of tell that. Not that I feel my film or TV work have been sub par because people keep paying me to write for them on the basis of that previous work. But the projects that came from a place of personal memory and personal pain are the ones I feel are the best of my work. I wish I’d spent more time nurturing projects like those over the ones I was being paid to churn out (i.e. the ones that, if and when they finally saw life on screens big and small, bore such little resemblance to my work it was like I’d never done the work at all).

  • I would have worked less

You read that right. I used to be the write every day type, and I did. Seven days a week, 365 days a year, for years. And all it made me was miserable. It actually had a detrimental affect on my overall health, and was at the orders of my doctor as well as my family that I take time off. My first “vacation” in that regard was over 2 weeks in 2001 where I got out of town and just read, relaxed, hiked, swam. Didn’t think of work at all. And when I returned to my home and my desk I found the world had kept turning, that nobody I worked with had begrudged me the time off. It made my work on resuming so much stronger because I’d had distance from it.

  • I would have done most of it pretty much the same way.

In that first year of writing, I had an potential opportunity to move to LA, to join the staff of a then moderately successful genre show. And I seriously considered taking the offer. What held me back were a couple things. One, I didn’t think I was ready. I was still new, still green, and felt that I would have been one titanic screw up to being fired. Of course, who knows? I could have flourished down there. But to do so might have meant all that I have done in the last 20 years might not have ever come to pass. I might not have written that comic book or those novels. I definitely wouldn’t have met my wife. I wouldn’t have my son. I might have been astonishingly successful down there but I don’t know if I would have been happy.

So on reflection, my life and career have been okay for the most part. I’m both very lucky to have made it this far, but I’m not ashamed to admit it’s also because I do have talent with the written word. Luck and chance opportunity might get you in the door, but if you can’t step up, knuckle down, and do the work, they’ll show you that door again just as quickly. I’ve had up years, I’ve had down years. I’ve come close to quitting many times. But I’m still here, and fate willing, will still be here doing what I’m doing for the next twenty.

Which is why, after a nice little break I’m back at my desk, and back on the clock. I have one manuscript to red-pen, and another to finish outlining. I might even find time to take a vacation again too.

Throwing The Book

Companies amuse me. When they’re not being outright evil they’re instead being incredibly stupid. Like “leaving money on the table” stupid. Case in point:

It’s not what you think it is

Okay, I’ll admit right upfront that in the grand scheme of things this is a drop in the ocean. But the news that IDW has cancelled the “Classic GI Joe” run of trade paperbacks is disappointing. When I re-ignited my interest in the comic and Larry Hama’s continuation of the classic 80s comic book series – the first book I ever bought on a regular monthly basis – I happily shelled out my $30 a couple times a year to grab the collected editions. I no longer buy monthly comics, and my comics buying over the last few years has diminished substantially. but I was and remain happy to keep supporting the publishers, writers and artists by buying the books. With this cancellation/postponement/whatever I’m kind of stuck.

But not really. There are smaller collections comprising 5 issues each that I can go back and buy to fill in the gaps, if I want to shell out the cash for them. problem is they’re pricey even compared to the bigger collections, and a couple are out of print, which means paying astronomical amounts on the secondary market just to find out what happens next.

What did happen? Beats me. Maybe they felt the return wasn’t worth the investment in bigger trades. maybe they felt since they were reprinting them in smaller blocks anyway, that market could be satisfied (and they could of course make more money that way).

It’s stuff like this that has actually had the unexpected yet welcome benefit of spurring me towards e-books and my local library. I’ve read almost 30 books since Christmas and have no plans to slow down. Maybe rather than forking over money to companies that don’t need it, I’ll just shove it towards my local library instead.

Words of Wisdom

“People ask me all the time, ‘What would your advice be to a young filmmaker?’ It used to be, pick up a camera and start making a movie. Now my advice is, live a bit of life, then pick up a camera and make a film about what you know and what you’ve experienced. Don’t go from being a super-fan in high school to film school, and come out knowing nothing about life except what you’ve seen in movies. Because you don’t know shit. You’ve got nothing new to say.

I stand by that now. That’s the journey I took. I left home when I was 18, I worked as a machinist, I worked as a school bus driver, a school bus mechanic, precision tool guy, truck driver, all kinds of stuff. Worked on auto body – what do you call it over here? I was a panel beater! Got married, had a house with a picket fence, and then I started making films when I was in my mid-twenties. I don’t think I missed anything. It’s not that I was late coming out the gate. I mean, Spielberg, he was 19 when he started, but he’s the exceptional case.”

– James Cameron, as interviewed by Little White Lies Magazine. You can read the whole article here:

James Cameron: ‘Soon we’ll have AI creating movies – and it’ll suck’

Shelf Life

Hello everyone and welcome to 2019. I’m still mired in writing my next book so things will remain on the quiet side for now. But I did want to update everyone on the really fascinating subject of What Brad Has Been Reading In 2019.

I’ve mentioned previously that 2018 was a rough year for me. A year full of upheaval, and disappointment. but it wasn’t until the Christmas break that I realized just what I had been missing, and that was the simple joys of reading. Not to say i didn’t read anything in 2018 – I did, but it was difficult to focus what with all the stuff swirling around me. Like trying to focus on your fishing pole when a storm is moving in. You get a tug on the line and want to reel that sucker in, but the wind is picking up, you hear the thunder and see the flashes of lightning and, well, next thing you know the fish has gotten away. I was reading, but it was reading divided between comics, and books, and stuff online, and magazines, and newspapers and, well, you get the point.

So, over the Christmas holiday leading into New Year’s I resolved to get back into reading in a serious way. Serious as in; If I’ve finished work and have free time I’m spending it with a book, not a TV or computer screen.

How’s it been going? Well, as of this writing – January 16, 2019 – I’ve read a total of 7 books this year. I read all of them quickly too. They were a pretty varied bunch but definitely leaned in one direction over another.

An interesting biography about a frankly not-so-interesting person.
A fascinating biography about five very interesting persons
More a novella than a novel, and a minor King.
I used to play a computer game based on this book series
Really fascinating subject matter, I tore through this beast in three days.
A sequel to Below the Root
Yes, that Justine Bateman. not so much a biography as a look at fame through the eyes of a person who once had an abundance of it.

That’s my year of reading so far. It doesn’t include things like graphic novels (in my case, the most recent Paper Girls and Walking Dead trade paperbacks, and Vol. 3 of Star Wars: The Collected Newspaper Strips). I’ll update more of my reading adventures as the year progresses. but until then, I have writing to do. Ta.