Los Angeles, CA
I was so tired that I crashed at 9pm last night. Ah, a glimpse into my 65 year old self.
Of course, I woke up at 1am and was wide awake. I forced myself back to sleep and woke up every hour on the hour. I finally rolled out of bed at sunrise. At least I'm back on a better schedule. I prefer to wake up when it's still dark out to start my morning writing routine, especially when I'm on the left coast since when I'm milling around in the darkness of the apartment, people are on the verge of starting their work day in NYC. Hard to explain but I'd rather have my mind and body on East Coast time when I'm working on major projects on the West Coast.
I might have shoveled too much freelance work onto my plate, due to a negative.frightened reaction (or rather an intelligent financial hedge) to Lost Vegas. I'm bogged down in the final edits and most of the time, I'm feeling strong about the book. I made plenty of necessary changes to improve the flow and pacing of the story, but there are some fleeting moments when I have doubts. And those moments bubbled up to the surface when I was offered freelance writing work. For most of 2009, I pretty much said, "No thank you" and turned down assignments (when added up, I lost about 10-12K). I took a self-imposed paycut during a recession and in the middle of a gaunt period in the poker media in order to complete a self-masturbatory piece of art.
Sure, I took a few assignments so I could travel (like the Bahamas and Argentina), but for the most part, I simplified my work and writing schedule in 2009 so I could have more time to devote towards... Lost Vegas, my other websites, and Phish tour. Yet, this past week, I agreed to add a few more assignments to the mix. At the least, I'll be bringing in money and covering my ass just in case the book bombs.
On a good note, I'm excited that I'll get to write Op/Ed for Poker News. There was recently a huge shakeup within the company and almost everyone was let go. The folks who were there when I first started working for them in 2007, are no longer involved with the company (with the exception of Tony G). Several of my friends (Schecky, Gaz, Jonno, Damon) have moved onto different companies and projects and I honestly thought that I was done with Poker News... until another friend of mine was recently tapped as their new editor. A couple of years ago, Matt Parvis was the editor of Bluff and added me to the roster of writers and I've had a monthly column there ever since then. Well, he left Bluff and took the head honcho position at Poker News.
Parvis' vision of the company included a different philosophy on the website. He added both Nicky and Friedman to the mix in full time roles. I was happy that Nicky got some recognition for her loyalty, work ethic, and her ability. She's one of the better writers in the industry, but she her talents were unerutilized as an official tournament reporter with Poker News, which is a thankless task and relentless work. Her promotion came at the perfect time for her because she really had no idea what the future held.
When Parvis asked me to re-join the ranks at Poker News, I felt lucky and honored considering so many other friends of colleagues were let go from the writing roster. I quickly accepted the gig mainly because I admire and respect Parvis as a leader. Of course, a glimmer of self-doubt with Lost Vegas was a contributing factor.
In the end, I went for the conservative play. Now, I have to produce solid content but I have 100% creative control. I love a good challenge.
On the flip side of writing, while eating breakfast at the coffeeshop, I thumbed through a book that Nicky said was a freebie that accompanied an editing book that she bought. The free book? Portable MFA. Basically it was one of those books that cost $20 and boasts that it will save you $49,980 in tuition. Most of the advice in the book was obvious stuff to me, but then again, I've been a paid writer for more than half of a decade while I struggled for ten years prior. The best line in the book encourage its readers to use two-years of MFA tuition money and not go to school. Instead, move to a log cabin for two years and write non-stop.
In 1997, I was considering pursuing education to make me a better writer. I had zero technical skills and only took one English class in college. I preferred classes where I wrote papers over exams and quizzes, so I definitely wrote a substantial amount in college, but I had very little technical skills. Instead of borrowing money to take a core of introductory courses (eventually leading towards seeking an MFA), I decided to move to Seattle. I lived there for two years. While I was out there, I didn't do much literary wise, although I had a half-finished screenplay that I collaborated with a friend of mine.
But five years after the fact, I penned a NaNoWriMo novel based upon some of my experiences in Seattle. I also played a lot of poker then, which would become an integral part of my life today. You can argue that going to graduate school would have put me deeper into debt, but I would have had access to more connections in the publishing world. Some days I think about my decision to go the "life" route instead of the scholarly road. The Seattle experiences proved that was the right move for me.
That's what people still don't get. Education + Experience is what matters. Not one, or the other, but both.