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Thursday, January 31, 2013

How to Stop Wishing and Start Writing; a How to for...Anyone!


What makes someone a writer? The simple answer is: “They write.” Not a sexy answer, but true. 

Usually when I tell people I’m a writer, I get a few of the same responses:

-I wish I could do that.

-I wish I had the time.

-I wish I was creative.

-Stop playing, I thought you was illiterate!

My answer is always, “Stop wishing and go do it,” (and stop calling me illiterate).

You can “do that.” Anyone can write. If you have fun with it. If it makes you a better person. If it makes someone else a better person. If it’s a stress release. If it’s any or all of the above then do it...WRITE! You don’t have to be a Pulitzer Prize winner to be a writer. Do it because you love it. 

You wish you had the time? How do you have time for anything else you do? You make time! Use a planner, a vision board, Google Calendar, iCal, an abacus; I don’t care—use something to schedule consistent writing time. You’ll find your skill level grow congruent with consistency.

Creative? Oh please. What does that even mean? Most of what I crank out for my first drafts could be seen (and smelled) as a petrified flaming turd that should never see the light of day. But if I’m having fun, am intrigued, or think I’m on to something I’ll stick with and work on it and refine it till it’s something I feel comfortable sharing with controlled groups of people, refine it some more, then send into the world.

Have fun, start writing, express yourself, b*$%h-slap the naysayers, and do what you were born to do (whatever that is).

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Blog Post from Mr. Gavaghoul



Dear friends of Mr. Bigshot Josh,

This is Mr. Gavaghoul, Josh’s first high school drama teacher and the man that helped build that machine so to speak. I’m proud to know that Josh or “The Little Gavaghoul,” as I used to call him; has written such a beautiful show in … According to Josh and has chosen to use me as one of the play’s characters.

It’s only fitting seeing as how I taught Josh everything he knows, but not everything I know, about drama and theater. Things like—you can never insert enough pelvic thrusts into any dramatic acting performance, and I should know after having been in the 1st Canadian national tour of an all-male cast of Pippin. I’m a professional. 

But after thirty years of touring, musical theatre, sensual tap-dancing, and a near-Broadway experience; I’ve put all that behind me to impart my life lessons on young thespians in Ocean County, New Jersey. I must give back to the earth as I learned from a troupe of Native American Sondheim shamans. 

And so sixteen years ago and just before Joshua entered high school, I opened my acting studio aptly named FORCING IT IN and have since taught dozens of students the art of true stage acting. I’ve even written the book, only recently out of print The Hedonists Guide to Stage Success. All of this, and my work with Josh, to give back to those who taught me—those whom which I can’t repay. And it’s through Josh and … According to Josh that my legacy will live on.

So to Joshua I say thank you and to you all I, implore you to go see his show in New York City or on tour. I was there opening night sitting front and center cheering him on. Perhaps I’ll get a chance to write in this space again. Till then,

All my best to you

Cornelius “Neal” Gavaghoul

Thursday, January 17, 2013

What I’m Learning About Self-Publishing (and Other Autodidactic Lessons)


This week as part of my Get-Er-Done-2013, I started looking into the painfully tedious world of self-publishing and which of the five or so major self-publishing platforms would be most right for my soon-to-be released book.

I had no idea there were so many different (some nonsensical) angles one had to know about if you want more readers than just your mom and your college buddies. 

As I sat for hours (with a box of Kleenex) searching through drivilish (is that a word) blog articles on author royalties, author ranking on Amazon, customer support, which platform best supports wholesale distribution, affiliate programs, and more; I almost gave up in frustration...until I discovered two valuable tools that would help me gain all the preliminary knowledge I needed.
  1. A blog’s comment bar: If you’re reading up on and researching self-publishing or anything else and the topic is closely related to what you’re looking for and has a catchy title but it’s not well written or particularly informative, there’s a good chance that it will have sparked high quality conversation among the blog’s readers. These readers (if the comment bar is actually turned on) will talk to each other back and forth about their war stories and what worked for them and how they failed and succeeded. Sometimes the people leaving comments are leaders within the same industry as the person who’s written the blog article and are giving more information as a way to solidify their own expertise (they may even leave a link to their own blog which may have even better information than the one you’re currently on).
  2. LinkedIn groups: First get on LinkedIn and create a profile if you haven’t done so already. Either Google the instructions or hit me up and I’ll give you a brief tutorial. Then do a LinkedIn search for groups closely or directly related to the topic you’re researching. Go into these groups and see if anyone else had the same question as you do and see if anyone has given any solid advice on the topic. If they have, great, and if not then ask your question and see if anyone answers in a reasonable amount of time. 
Google and the internet have made it relatively simple to learn a new skill or find the path to your desired skill set in a time frame much shorter than ever before. Go out and learn whatever it is you need; whether that’s self publishing, cooking Ethiopian food, or how to breed Shar-Pei puppies. I’ll bet whatever you’ve got up your sleeve for 2013, it’s something pretty cool. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Take Yourself off of Mute



This week I had the opportunity (maybe an overstatement) to shell out fourteen dollars and seventy five cents for the new Quentin Tarantino flick Django Unchained.

The film—a spoof on blaxploitation films of the past—was dark, and brilliant (in my opinion), funny at times, a little heavy handed at other times, featured great acting, and was very difficult to watch.

The painful images of slavery in the United States in the 19th century evoked a great deal of anger and emotion within me as it did with many others. After seeing Django... I went online to see how other people felt about the what they watched and for every positive thing I read it seemed as if there was someone else who felt the need to say something negative.

Spike Lee, some of the film’s stars, and movie critics alike all had a different spin on the film’s content and themes.

Despite all of that; everyone did seem to agree (to a certain extent) the film was shot well, Tarantino directed it well, the cast was great, and it even came in second in the box office in its opening weekend with 30.7 million dollars.

One of my biggest takeaways, at least one that’s universally relatable, has to do with what one critic had to say about Tarantino. In Paste Magazine, Tyler Chase said that, “The best thing about Quentin Tarantino is also the worst thing about Quentin Tarantino—he believes, wholeheartedly, in whatever he’s doing.” 

Whether or not you like Tarantino’s body of work, his belief in himself and his art have led him to a long and storied career doing exactly what he wants to do. He didn’t listen to the naysayers and give in when they told him his work on Django... was too bloody or was something that’s gratuitously reopened old wounds in our nation’s history. He stuck with what he believed him and the story he wanted to tell, and is now reaping the fruit of his rewards (personal gratification, box office success—which will in turn lead him to the ability to make more films, and the film being talked about in Oscar conversations).

My point in stating all this is to tell you to find something you love and go after it with all your heart and don’t listen to the naysayers. Do great and unforgettable work in your pursuit of this love. Listen to people who want to help you on your journey but get rid of the people who want to tell you that you can’t, won’t, shouldn’t, don’t have the talent, or some other BS reason why you should unnecessarily hold yourself back from your true purpose. 

Where there’s a will there’s always a way.

Tap into the will and you will find your way. 

(PS. you can read Tyler Chase’s review of Django Unchained here: http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2012/12/django-unchained.html

Thursday, January 3, 2013

BLOGospel Year End Wrap Up (A Week too Late)



Every year, just before and right after the calendar hits January 1st; major corporations, television shows, and some of your favorite restaurants all meet in secret to conspire to give you a month full of reruns, discounts on returned merchandise, reheated leftovers, and some sort of crappy year-end-review.

And I know what you’re thinking because I’m a trained psychic... “Josh, there’s no way you’re going to sell out and be like those other guys...you’ve gotta have something fresh for us this week, right?”

Well my friend, you were dead wrong.

This week and this week only I will be giving you a year end wrap up of my favorite things from 2012 through the lens of The Gospel According to Josh.
  • Youse guys. Thank you so much for being on this list. I truly enjoy writing for all twenty of you who open my emails. 
  • Speaking of which—starting this blog! I’m having a great time writing in this space and keeping up with...all twenty of you.
  • Working on my super-funky memoir also entitled The Gospel According to Josh. It’s taken all year but I’ll have it released no later than May of 2013 and I can’t wait to share it with you and even simply give it away to a few of you as well.
  • The traveling...when I actually get there. The food (my fave was a hamburger made of Hawaiian pork and Hawaiian beef topped with cheddar cheese, spicy cole slaw, and fried pig belly...defibrillator not included), the conversation, the sights, and the sounds of someplace and something new, sometimes outside of my comfort zone.
  • The work I’m able to contribute to in the arena of suicide prevention. I know I can be pretty irreverent, a little vulgar, and sometimes find poop jokes to be funnier than they really are; but to be able to help people who need it—folks who have lost someone to suicide or kids who might be contemplating it, this is serious work that has the power to change lives and I’ll keep doing it with my show or however else I can as long as it’s working. 
  • Hawaii. My first time there. Enough said.
  • Being alive and healthy. I think this is something we all might overlook a little bit but it’s something so simple yet truly profound and I am so glad to be here. Thanks for spending some of this past year with me. 
Happy (belated) New Year my friends. I hope 2013 brings you joy, peace, happiness, love, and much success. If I can help contribute to any of that for you in any way, you know where to find me.  -J