Writing Wednesdays

Writing Wednesdays

Classing Up the Joint

By Steven Pressfield | Published: July 2, 2014

A few changes coming to this blog in the next couple of months:

Coming soon: a trip to camp!

1. Jeff Simon, our version of Steve Jobs, has been reconfiguring the site to make it more video-friendly. We’ll have a new look soon (or as soon as Jeff can whip it together.) The plan is to do a lot more video posts and even video series. Jeff is also redesigning the look of the site to work better on mobile devices.

I hate the term “content.” But, what the hell, here is some of the (I can’t say the word) we’ve got coming up:

1. I’m gonna dial down the “Book I’ve Been Avoiding Writing” series. The reason is I want to make it into an actual book, and I want to work hard on it as a piece, without exposing too much of it prematurely. My thanks to everyone who has followed along over the previous weeks—and particularly to those who have written in to the Comments section. When the book is ready, we’ll bring it out first to our First Look members free or really cheap.

2. Shawn and I will be doing a video series about editing. Nobody seems to know what an editor does, including me. But it is make-or-break, save-your-book-or-ruin-it, indispensable, critical, cosmically necessary stuff that is even more important these days for writers to understand, because in the world of indie-pub and stripped-down Big Pub, the writer often has to be her own editor.

How will we address the editing process? We’ve got a new book coming from my original mentor, David Leddick, who was my first boss and the original Mad Man advertising superstar and remains a great friend. Shawn and I will take apart David’s newest book (called I’m Not For Everyone, Neither Are You) and show, beat by beat, how a finished project was edited, tweaked, reshaped, reconceived, reorganized and rounded into ready-to-rock-n-roll form.

3. A second video series has Shawn and me exploring memoir-writing—i.e true stuff of all kinds—and how the Foolscap Method can be applied not just to fiction but to everything from CEO-type speeches to Ph.D. dissertations. We’ll use Israeli fighter pilot Giora Romm’s memoir Solitary and show how he, Giora, took a true, incredibly traumatic ordeal (that could have been an utter debacle in the retelling) and made it into a modern classic.

4. The reason the redesigned-for-video site hasn’t been put in place sooner is that Jeff has been working on his own Major Project—a web series called Camp Abercorn that he and his partners Matt and Meg have been funding, casting, shooting, pitching, Sundancing, etc. Our third video series is me interviewing Jeff about this.

This was great fun (we shot it two weeks ago) and I’m hoping it will be fascinating for our readers. Why? Because, unless I’m mistaken, many, many of those who follow this blog are like me and Shawn—i.e. Old School lit types who read books, write books, and think in terms of publishing in the traditional sense. Jeff, on the other hand, is twenty-seven—and, like his generation, effortlessly conversant with the world of tech, of HTML (whatever that is), of the web, of crowdfunding, Kickstarter, Indiegogo, etc. Not to mention he and his partners can do all those things that Shawn and I are clueless about—direct, act, write episodic, shoot film and video, sound-edit, video-edit, write music, score, scout locations, drive deals, design, write code, manipulate the web and social media, and so forth. I won’t tell you the idea behind Camp Abercorn, except to say that there’s nothing like it on the web or TV and I think it’s gonna be great.

There’s other good stuff too (including Shawn’s Big Book on editing and story analysis, The Story Grid, in the works now), but these three video series are what’s in the immediate offing. Writing Wednesdays will continue as is and so will What It Takes. Again, everything we do, we’ll deliver early to our First Look Access members.

Thanks to everybody for sticking with us. Don’t be afraid of the new design. Shawn, Callie and I haven’t seen it yet either. No pressure, Jeff. Just make it great!

Posted in Writing Wednesdays

31 Responses to “Classing Up the Joint”

  1. Basilis
    July 2, 2014 at 2:56 am

    Intriguing!

  2. July 2, 2014 at 4:53 am

    I’m looking forward to learning from those twenty-seven year olds!

  3. Mary Doyle
    July 2, 2014 at 5:08 am

    Can’t wait!

    • July 2, 2014 at 12:44 pm

      Seconded!

  4. July 2, 2014 at 6:17 am

    Appreciate what you put out here for this tribe.

  5. July 2, 2014 at 6:19 am

    I’m glad I’m not the only old schooler who has to physically force the word “content” from my mouth when it comes to speaking about information (not quite right) or copy (that’s not it either, unless it’s marketing-ish). It’s in the same category as “ideation,” that hip term for what I understand to be brainstorming.

  6. July 2, 2014 at 6:25 am

    Looking forward to it. Sounds like exciting times ahead!

  7. July 2, 2014 at 6:26 am

    Exciting!

    1. The site works just fine on my iPad, but if Jeff can do a Beatles’ song, why not?
    1. “The Book 8′ve Been Avoiding Writng” as a book. How meta! Seriously, I found the Sub-themes of The Lion’s Gate to be as enriching and inspirational as the text of the narrative. I’m looking forward to another powerful narrative journey, one I can recommend around the world. Literally.
    2. Everybody needs an editor. Even editors. Time was, editors were appreciated and as valuable to publishing as authors – great editors were rare and priceless, like great writers. Oh, wait! That’s today. I hope some of Shawn’s vast experience is included. I suspect many readers don’t know how much he’s done, aside from his work with you.
    3. There is value to video, and a craft choice which medium works best for which project. Needless to say, I enjoy eavesdropping on your conversations.
    4. I think I’m a hybrid – old school and wired in, semi on both. And I’m really looking forward to Shawn’s The Story Grid. A lot.

    Thanks.

  8. July 2, 2014 at 6:33 am

    Transcripts would be appreciated by some of us.

    I don’t do video – I can’t skim it, and I am not going to sit here, captive, for however long it takes people to get around to saying what they mean to say. Two-minute instructional videos for something I need to do, say, in Word, are my limit – and I go looking for those.

    It is the same reason I don’t do podcasts – writing is much more compact, leaves ME in control of how much and how fast I process the information.

    I would be sad to miss the things you have to say.

    Alicia

    • Diann
      July 2, 2014 at 7:11 am

      I agree with you. I prefer reading to watching videos.

    • Tracy
      July 2, 2014 at 8:14 am

      I also prefer reading a transcript to watching a video for many of the same reasons. An additional factor for me is the amount of data that video consumes. I live in a rural area with no DSL service. The only available internet access is via a capped plan with a high cost per gigabyte. I avoid video whenever possible.

    • July 2, 2014 at 11:53 am

      I know just what you mean, Alicia. I get impatient with videos too. “Come on, come on, get to the good part!”

      But don’t worry, we will have a transcript attached to every video so you can skim through the boring parts.

      From our side (Shawn’s and mine), videos present their own problems. They cost money, they take up days of time. Shawn lives in NY, I’m in LA, so one of us has to fly cross-country, not to mention the hassle and expense of editing, etc. However, what’s great about video when there are two people together on-camera is you get the wonderful spontaneity of “back and forth,” and you, the viewer, really get a sense of who the people are, on-camera.

      Bottom line: don’t worry, the site is not going all-video-all-the-time; we just want it to be more video-friendly, when and if that option seems best.

      • July 2, 2014 at 2:27 pm

        Phew! Thanks.

        It is a huge effort to prepare transcripts – and I appreciate it. I don’t even care if I have to wait.

        I hadn’t thought about the data download problem, but it might also be a problem for people with cellphones with limited data plans?

        Video is lovely – if you have nothing else to do but sit and watch. Audio is fine – if you’re driving or cooking or otherwise not needing all your attention.

        But good ol’ text is still best and most efficient. For permanence, for skimming, for thinking. And especially for loading stories into human brains.

        • Patti
          July 2, 2014 at 4:47 pm

          I second every point you made…I have unsubscribed to many blogs due to the change in delivery…video is fine under certain circumstances-interviews, etc…but I have found myself watching camera presence, becoming annoyed and clicking off for other things I can read…hope it does work for this blog…I’m new to it, and one of the perks includes all of the great reading….not using them”c” word either…this blog is wonderful reading.

        • July 15, 2014 at 7:49 am

          Such great dialogue. Much is at stake and thank goenodss there are folks who dare to tell the truth and even some, speak truth to power . Living in Norfolk, Va. all of my life and knowing how things have really worked at the largest and most strategic port in the US, I have seen how this culture has attempted to embed itself into polite company sadly, from my vantage point I have seen little but sabotage, stealth, financial corruption, and yes even neutralizations of honest and good people. We all know that most of their leaders have been born or educated in the UnitedStates and like Blitzer move back and forth with ease. I have noticed how they slowly take over news and information organizations. My1ff2 field is history, a subject most folks don’t like I have seen how crafty they are and how much they don’t like hard work like farming, gardening, etc rarely get their hand dirty but killing, slitting throats, well since they took over the Whitechapel District in London in the 1800s when Disraeli came to power, the barbers presto became surgeons , midwives disappeared and guys like Jack the Ripper became a growth industry Ted Bundy and hundreds of others now hidden in the files of certain government organzations.The connection is close and frequent between that state and twisted generals like MarkClark ( the real evil one in Lords of Discipline by Conroy ),AGray( NJ cherryboy), Meyer, Stiner, such all having been involved in the slow but steady growth of recently ( 1961 JFK school at Bragg ) invented Specialops schools like School of the Americas, everywhere. Thus it’s not a surprise that they ( the elite ? brothers ) graduated to using German pith helmets in the 1800s marinecorps when GermanzionistJacobZetlin replaced the musical-horn emblem. Jacob went on to botch things up for his new country at Harper’s Ferry and Charleston after Henderson died . Not a surprise to see so many medals and fun TDYs for the special’ international crowd or their to desert fatigues, killing drones, chemical and biological cocktails, Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, global falseflag ops. Rabbi Kahane and MeyerLansky are both heroes in the land of OZ Jefferson wouldn’t be amused.

  9. Christine
    July 2, 2014 at 6:33 am

    I can’t wait for the editing series! I review books and I frequently receive self published books. People, if you write your book, you shouldn’t be editing it! You are emotionally attached to that thing and I’m convinced it’s impossible to do a good job. Hire one! There’s nothing that takes away from page 1 quite as quickly as a poorly edited book!

  10. July 2, 2014 at 6:44 am

    Can not wait to see the finished products!

  11. Miguel Caculitan
    July 2, 2014 at 7:16 am

    So glad to hear you’re turning the “Book I’ve Been Avoiding Writing” into an actual book. I can’t wait for that one. Cheers, Steve!

  12. Golfo
    July 2, 2014 at 7:33 am

    Sounds wonderful! I’m looking forward to all the new “content”.

  13. July 2, 2014 at 8:11 am

    As a new visitor to your site, this all sounds very interesting, Steven. Looking forward to learning more. Congrats on moving onward and upward. :)

  14. July 2, 2014 at 8:23 am

    Awesome Steve!! Sounds so exciting! Best of luck!

  15. July 2, 2014 at 9:23 am

    We are currently in the middle of the chaos involved in redesigning our website, but reading your email made me feel much calmer. Pshhh…. I realized our job is a piece of cake compared to what you guys are doing! I look forward to watching y’all’s progress!!

  16. Billy W.
    July 2, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Great stuff, Steve! Its one of the reasons I like coming to this site!

  17. Redheadboss
    July 2, 2014 at 10:31 am

    I hop you will close caption the videos, I am deaf, or ask your techs to point me to a cc app.

  18. July 2, 2014 at 11:23 am

    Looking forward to seeing the new direction Steve!

  19. July 2, 2014 at 11:38 am

    HTML stands for “Hot Tomales, Me Laddie!”

    It’s a Scot/Mex thing, and the foundation of the entire Interweb thing.

    You’re welcome.

    Oh, that book thing sounds good too.

  20. Cheryl McLaughlin
    July 2, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    Hi Steve,
    It’s always a gutsy move to make a change like this, and I congratulate you, and am looking forward to exploring the “new.” Your upcoming projects sound great. Thank you for giving us a sneak peek. I have enjoyed reading your posts.
    Cheers!

  21. July 3, 2014 at 5:54 am

    As a ‘tweener’ or one of the GenXer’s on the site, I straddle both the analog & digital generations. What I like about video is being able to see the expressions on your faces, laughs, etc.

    I’m certified Audible.com addict which has even gotten worse since I deliberately chose to avoid most pop culture since returning from OEF. I was so angry with how we prosecuted the war, I felt like everything I read or saw on the news was in Newspeak…and my feelings haven’t changed much. This site, however, is an oasis in the dearth of truth I see everywhere else.

    I am impressed with your willingness to ‘class up the joint’. It shows me that even Steven Pressfield must continue to explore, stretch, grow, learn, and expand his repertoire. I think that is a more important point for me than whether or not the videos are great or suck.

    Happy Independence Day to all!
    bsn

  22. July 4, 2014 at 11:15 am

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  23. Barbara Allie
    July 5, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    Just now finished watching you talk about your book “Lions Gate” on Book TV, and liked the interview very much. Looking forward to reading it.

  24. July 8, 2014 at 8:30 am

    Thanks for all the great stuff! (I avoided the word you loathe.) I’m especially eager to see the editing series and book.