I’m not sure if this is common knowledge among writers (you never really know) but it’s always worth pointing out that if you want to become a better writer than you were yesterday, you must read everything.
”I’m influenced by everything I read, shamelessly. ‘In a review someone said, ‘Oh, she sounds very much like Amis.’ I was flattered by that. I love Amis. Thank you very much. I think if I carry on plagiarizing for 15 years, it will settle like silt, and I’ll write something really great.”
And that goes with anything that involves words and sentences. Even as relatively innocuous as a tweet, which requires one to read enough tweets to become one decent enough to gain a multitude followers. (Of course, the alternative is to just blurt shit out and I guess that has impact, too.)
But if you want to be thoughtful and be able to convey what you want to say in such a limited word space, you’d have to study the best twitter accounts and the best twitter accounts are often created by writers who write often — and presumably read often.
For me, when it comes to writing, nothing boosts my will to put words down on an empty Word document than reading a fine line of prose or poetry, and so I read as much as I can, and the three books that I’ve picked up recently — that I would also recommend to anyone who loves to read — are:
I haven’t finished any of these books, but if you happen to be reading or have read any of these books, let’s start a discussion.
The Open Boat will definitely be part of my ongoing rotation with so many gems that I will for sure come back to for many years to come. Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash is original and endlessly entertains. Yakuza not only details the criminal underworld of Japan, but it also provides some insight on how the Japanese people live, their values, their core.
There’s something about these carnival lights that make me feel at ease. It’s like a promise — to tell me that they will always be around, that they will never leave. To make me believe in tomorrow. To make me believe in me.
It’s time to tear down all the decorations and all the bullshit. It’s a new year, new decade, and I’m fucking 40 years old.
I bring my age up because I tend to compare. Like “How old was he when he dropped his first novel?”
But despite that, I know that wisdom still persists. I know in the end it doesn’t matter. What matters is the doing, the act, and that’s exactly what I’ve not been doing — is the doing.
I have so many excuses.
If you write, good ideas must come welling up into you so that you have something to write. If good ideas do not come at once, or for a long time, do not be troubled at all. Wait for them. Put down little ideas no matter how insignificant they are. But do not feel, any more, guilty about idleness and solitude.
One sentence (at least) toward the novel every day.
One sentence (at least) toward a short story every day.
Though it may not seem like much, it’s a big step for me. You see, my main excuse thus far is that I’m the primary caretaker of two toddlers with a part-time job and the big responsibility to make sure that our home is live-able, clean, and conducive to a life of action, health, and woke-ness.
This challenge, if you will, at the face of it may seem innocuous especially when it’s compared to what I’ve done prior, which was to write at two in the morning, half asleep, exhausted from the day, balancing out time with my wife and children with other interests, and at times, dealing with whatever else life decides to throw underneath my path to trip me up, but I assure you that it is indeed a challenge, one that I have to face if I’m to complete anything worth completing.
I bring this to you because this little black-and-tan dachshund bitch is getting old, and I always fear, most times anticipate, her going away, and I want to capture this bitch during her finer moments.
I hadn’t a clue who Kacey Musgraves was — but without her unabashed sense of adventure and her huge celebrity-sized following, she wouldn’t have had the chance to spread the word about Tom’s One Hour Photo, which is:
My kind of photo lab
My kind of photographer
My kind of photo
I have fond memories of taking similar photos back in high school during the ’90s, as I flexed for the mall photographer with my group of friends around me. The photos were then printed out, wallet sized, and flipped over to be written on, whether it be a signature, a small caption of the moment, or even a love note.
I remember keeping some photos in my wallet and took them out to stare at while sitting in the bus or alone in my room, probably admiring how hard I looked in the photo, playing up to my gangbanger sensibilities.
Once a classmate handed me her portrait with a note in the back saying, “I think you’re fine. Take it as you will.”
I was flattered like a motherfucker; it was probably the first time up until that point that anyone outside of my mom complimented me. I was too shy and embarrassed to respond accordingly but it was a fond memory that keeps me delighted til this day about my time in high school.
The one thing I regret, though, as I stare at my mug today in soft portrait lighting and my brown skin contrasted against some ’90s abstract background and style, is that I didn’t keep any of those photos I took from high school.
So kudos to Kacey Musgraves (I’m sure your music is awesome) for taking a chance with Tom’s One Hour Photo and reminding us all to support local business and to express ourselves no matter what.
All you need to know about Tom’s One Hour Photo can be found in their Instagram page, where you can sort through the dozen backgrounds that are available to use in your photo, Tom’s photography process, prices, and location.
I was just editing a post about smoking weed at 40, as I was smoking weed at 40, and it led me into a dark place (one of many) that I went through in life. Because as it happens, smoking weed at 40 can cause one to reflect:
I once worked for a company where the population of employees were nearly 90% white, and as I write that number, I’m hesitant to keep it because I’m not entirely sure what the exact percentages were, I just know that when I had to go to work every day and walked down those aisles of open cubicles, and watched white face after white face, I felt alone.
Especially in marketing, where rarely did I see anyone of color, which wasn’t a surprise since the product that we were marketing was geared toward young, white males. I was lonely nonetheless. The only other peoples of color were in finance, IT, and business development.
Outside the company walls, my friends had called me the token hire, the affirmative action hire, and who knows, as I reflect now, maybe I was? All I know was that I was never really challenged; I was just doing my thing the way I wanted to do things, because what the fuck were they gonna do, fire me? Fire the only person of color on the team?
My driving force was 1. money and 2. I wanted to know if I can do it — to be rich — from the depths of a colonized mind, from Manila to Long Beach to corporate America.
I was always worried about my salary, though: Is it enough? Who below my rank or on my level was making more than me? Am I being low balled to the ground level because of the color of my skin, because everyone else was white, and typically, they don’t give money to the brown man.
Anxieties, paranoia, engulfed my every day, to be alone, to stand out, to stand up, to fight back, to refute all things model minority, that was my daily.
But through it all, I fucking did it, a brown man from the ‘hood got corporate enough to get a sip of managerial power in the corporate world, in the face of white antagonism, in the face of white corporate America. I shook things up, so I thought.
The immigrant in me worked. Besides other than having to deal with entitlement, ignorance, and bigotry, what kind of other challenges did I have to face? That I shouldn’t call in too many times? Meet my KPIs? Be a great teammate?
My immigrant energy wasn’t the only one pushing me; my ‘hood energy was as strong. The ‘hood has never leave my being, no matter how far I got up and out, I could be in Mars with Elon Musk, and I’d still be on the come up mission.
The ‘hood energy never let me enjoy the situation as it was, despite the money, the little power, it was like, yo, this is just the stepping stone to bigger things, this is just a moment in life to prepare you for even bigger moments.
But the money was too easy.
I had lived in near poverty, seen destruction and violence at its most gruesome, witnessed the struggle and the hate, as an immigrant child watching his immigrant parents be immigrant parents, to work hard no matter what, no matter how far the drive, how grueling the experience, work hard.
And as I reflect now, smoking weed at 40, I’d like to thank my mom for always telling me that money doesn’t matter and never mattered. I heard but didn’t listen to her then — but the seed was planted and it just took a matter of time for it to grow.
I eventually left the company and moved on to another even whiter company, and there, I was close to executive level before I left. I finally realized that executives at corporations are just the top-class ditch diggers, the very top, the ones who can dig the ditch efficiently with smiles on their faces.
If you can do that, and I did do that, then go right for it.
What I also realized was that if I didn’t do something drastic, I would die a fucking executive digital marketing creative social something manager of whatever whatever the fuck.
And when I played that out, right there, at that moment, I wanted out. I’d rather die as someone who knew what he wanted to do, pursued it, chased it, willing to do anything to maintain the chase, be it a cashier, bartender, server, primary caretaker of two children, literal ditch digger, or whatever it may be, that I would rather die being that than that.
In the end, I’d rather smoke weed at 40 when I’m living the life I want to live. And I no longer feel lonely.