I received the yearly email from the good people at WordPress containing my “year in blogging” review and the numbers weren’t good. I don’t mean the “traffic” or the clicks or the incoming comments. I mean my own performance. I only put up two new posts in 2014. Two. It was that kind of year.
While I did do a lot of things and accomplished some important personal/creative goals, it was still a bit of a down year. I’ve described it to friends as a feeling of “being on hold” for reasons I still can’t quite put my finger on.
I wrote less this year – in terms of completed projects and in terms of pure, raw word count – than I have in any of the past 15 years… and yes, I do track these things with an almost OCD-like compulsion. I won’t cop out and blame “writer’s block” or anything like that, because I have never really believed such a thing exists. Maybe I was suffering from some burn-out, sure, and was just a little tired in an existential sort of way.
But even through the writing was lacking this year, I did much more than the usual amount of performing. I climbed up on every stage that would have me and did many “spoken word” “storytelling” and “essay” shows, some as a returning guest and some as a newcomer. I also acted (if I dare to call it that) in three comedy shorts that will surely find their way online whenever they finally make it out of post-production. All the performance work was fun and exciting. It also helped fill some of the void I have felt since my improv theater/home of 13+ years closed down (going on 2 years ago.) It is a loss I am still coping with.. with varying degrees of success.
I also helped a lot of friends with a lot of their own projects. I formatted and did the artwork for a friend’s ebook novel. I must have read & given notes etc for at least two dozen friends’ scripts. I helped with some post-production editing, I even taught a little guitar. So, even though my word and page counts were hovering near-zero, I wasn’t completely shut down creatively.
Now I have to look ahead to the new year and figure out what I’m going to differently, what I’m going to do better and what I’m going to do more of.
I’m not sure I want to revisit old ground – like my Ask A Punk blog which, although I loved it dearly, I still feel like I was answering the same questions over and over again. I do hope to re-launch the Another LA Cartoon photo-blog soon, but there are still some technical difficulties that I haven’t figured out how to handle yet.
I will get back to my straight-up screenwriting. I have two comedy features that I set aside in 2014… not because I didn’t think they were good ideas, but because I just couldn’t commit to the writing itself (as I said, this was a new, and difficult sensation to sort out.) I am also planning on launching a podcast later this year, which I know is a pretty ambitious and time-consuming undertaking, but I think I’ve come up with an idea small enough to be do-able, and big enough to be interesting to me, and (hopefully) other people.
…and of course, I plan on being more dedicated to the Planet OConnor blog.
It is a new year people. I know some folks say the whole “New Year, Fresh Start” mentality is dumb because our calendar is really just an arbitrary thing (on a cosmic scale.) But I say ANYthing that helps us consciously note the passage of time and the incredible opportunities that still remain to move forward, grow and improve ourselves, to look outward and create, and help… well, that has to be a good thing.
Stay Strong !
Things are getting busy after a low-key Summer. Unfortunately, won’t be attending the Austin Film Festival & Writer’s Conference in October this year, for the first time in what? three years I think… but the good news is – I’m busy partially because of the AFF.
“OGRE STONE” one of my “spec sitcom pilot” scripts that did well at AFF last year has now been picked up by a small animation company for development into a possible animated series. We are now busy creating presentation and pitch materials as I also start outlining the multi-episode story arc(s) for a possible series. It is all very much “early stages” but it is exciting.
In other news, I have shows booked in October and November but I still haven’t found a smooth, and visually appealing, way to post “upcoming shows” …so I’m still working on that. Meanwhile of course, I am still meeting my weekly deadlines for Ask A Punk and Another LA Cartoon. I hope you check them out.
Stay Strong everyone !
It has been a quiet lately. Sometimes Los Angeles is like that in the Summer time.
The biggest news is that one of my spec sitcom pilots “Ogre Stone” has been picked up by a small animation company and it looks like we’ll be developing it as a possible series. Obviously there is still a loooong way to go, but it is a nice start.
Ask A Punk continues to pull in new readers and friends. Sales of the ebook have been slow lately, but I can tell you that the whole ebook/self-publishing thing is definitely worth the effort and clearly the wave of the future. I’m working on another non-fiction title and dusting off a 1st draft of a ‘New Adult” detective-ish novel that I wrote some time ago.
I have been having trouble with the “Upcoming Events” calendar plug-in that, until recently, was visible in the right column of the website. When they say “works seamlessly with Google Calendar” …don’t believe them. I’ll get it straightened out soon. Then I’ll be able to post details about some upcoming shows in August, September and November as well as some upcoming “Improv for Writers” sessions that I’ll be teaching.
That’s all for now. Don’t forget the sunscreen.
It has been busy at Planet OConnor, but I wanted to let everyone know that I have been booked to do this month’s SIT n SPIN show on Thursday April 18th – 8:00pm at the Comedy Central Stage at the Hudson Theater. 6539 Santa Monica Blvd. LA CA 90038. As always, tickets to this show are FREE, but you have to call and reserve them in advance (the number is: 323.960.5519.) oh, and there is even plenty of FREE street parking after 7:00pm
This will be my 5th appearance on this show. It is always a good time. Come on out. Did I mention that it is FREE?
In other news, sales of my ASK A PUNK eBook continue to come in, and readership of the relaunched weekly advice column is slowly increasing. Thanks and welcome to all new readers.
So here we are, eleven days into the new year. I got off to a slow start, thanks to that same weird stomach-bug that seems to be crippling everyone else I know too… but these things always pass sooner or later. I’m feeling much better. I’m still piecing together both my plans for the new year and my thoughts about the old.
Like a lot of people, by the time mid-December rolled around, I felt like I was limping to the finish line. The unrelenting horrors I saw (and continue to see) every evening on the news were a stinging slap of reality. Silly me – I thought that once the ugly election cycle was over, we might have a little bit of Peace to wrap up the year. I was wrong. All of the complaints and personal disappointments I might have had during 2012 pale in comparison to an unbalanced madman gunning down a classroom full of children. In some ways it makes me feel like the things I’ve dedicated my allotted time on the planet to doing are, well, kind of frivolous. …but then again, I also think that what is really missing at this time of incivility, horror and outrage that is as indignant as it is usually uninformed is, well… joy.
Sounds a bit weird for an old punk-rocker to say such things. And maybe it is a bit self-serving, since I’m a comedy writer and all, but it is stunning to consider how much of our ‘entertainment’ is based on murder, mayhem and violence. I know, I know… Tales of battles and blood are as old as humanity (ever read The Iliad? or the Bible? … Jerry Brukheimer would kill for source material like that.) I have some friends who are horror writers too, and they’re really good at it. They have legions of well-adjusted readers and fans who just happen to enjoy the macabre. That is awesome. Really.
…but for me, comedy is what we all need. Horror and violence as entertainment is really the choice of people and societies who are lucky enough to not have to deal with real horror and violence in their lives on a daily basis. I get it. People, who are relatively “safe” in real life crave a good scare now and then. I’m just saying that, if you showed up at a refuge camp somewhere (and there are plenty of them on every continent except Antarctica) and you said: “Here’s something that’ll cheer you all up – the entire collection of SAW movies… in high definition!” … the people there would think you’re insane. But if you put up something like, oh Charlie Chaplin… I’m pretty sure that would be more effective. Comedy is universal. Pathos is universal. Torture-porn is for the lucky few who know where they’ll be able to find water tomorrow and who have never seen a limb actually get hacked off. That is really all I’m saying, and I’m probably not saying it as clearly as I had hoped to.
So… onward. 2013. Sounds lucky, doesn’t it?
Personally, 2012 was a weird year. Overall it was much better, personally, professionally and financially than the previous couple of years have been, but there were definitely some down notes too. The closing of my theater (see previous post) has really started to sink in now… now that the holidays are over and everyone is back in town, and I would normally, on a Friday night like this be there – to see new students perform and to casually run into some of the dozens of lovely and creative people I’ve known for so long. But when the central hub (the theater) is no longer there, everyone spins out in their own directions. This is what always happens. This is what I knew would happen. …and yet it is still a difficult adjustment to make. On the other side of the coin, I also had to actively disconnect from a few projects and even a few close friends this year. Painful, but necessary for all sorts of human reasons that I hope will be clear to the people involved someday, sooner or later… but who knows?
Six hundred and thirty-five words into this post and it all seems pretty maudlin. I know. Luckily I also know that not many people are going to read this.
I promise I am looking forward to having a great year in 2013. I don’t make “resolutions” though… I make To-Do lists and I have plenty of new goals for the new year – here are just a few:
1) This week I relaunched my weekly advice blog: Ask A Punk. I admit I felt a little burned out when I put it on ‘hiatus’ last year, but it turns out that I really missed doing it and engaging with the many people who wrote in with questions and comments. I also created an eBook made up of the 1st year of Ask A Punk posts that is (of course) now for sale and compatible with all your ereading devices.
2) I am actively writing on two projects: a comedy feature and an animated cartoon series… by which I mean I’m writing them – no one is paying me for them. Yet.
3) I am finally compiling all of my “punk rock”-related stories and essays into what I’m hoping to turn into a feature length comedy/concert kind of video project.
4) I’m also working on a series of (written) short stories that I’m planning to use as source material for a new podcast – not necessarily all comedy. I’m thinking it might be my own spin on the kind of work that the amazing Joe Frank has done. We’ll see.
5) I’ll be updating this website with some of the cool new features that wordpress has added in recent months, including the long-awaited (and begged for) “upcoming events” calendar… another reason to book some gigs for the new year.
… and of course there are other script ideas (some already outlined,) Animated & youtube projects and other projects in various media that are still vague ideas floating in my head. Time is always the issue… I still have to earn a living after all, and most of the things I’ve mentioned here are, so far anyway, work I’m doing for myself. As I always say: Imagine how hard I would work if I was getting paid to do all this stuff!
So why do it all?
Because I can’t imagine not doing it. Because it helps me figure myself out. Because I don’t need permission to do any of it. Because I decided long ago not to let my hope and joy be stolen by the difficult and troubling times we’re currently living through.
Stay Strong everyone… and stay hopeful too. What have you got to lose?
I ended my previous post by saying that I sensed some positive changes were on the way. Turns out I was right. I don’t want to turn this post into a brag or, worse yet – a “humble brag” but I think it is good to mention it when things start going well/better – if nothing else, it is a form of gratitude.
I’m in the final back & forth edits for a short piece that should be appearing soon in the Los Angeles Times – assuming it and I survive the editing process. Sure, it’ll be in the “online edition” for all the world to see – and which I plan to shamelessly self-promote, but it will also be in the print edition. I don’t care how old or young you are, there IS something special about walking to the end of your driveway, picking up a major metropolitan newspaper, opening it and seeing your name in a “by line.” …and of course, on the slim chance that it doesn’t get published, I can always come back and edit this paragraph out.
I have finished the redesign of the Ask A Punk website. It isn’t a major overhaul and there haven’t been a ton of bells/whistles added but, since I do it all myself, it is still a bit of an accomplishment. I have delayed putting up the new posts and gearing up the necessary self-promoting etc. because I will also be putting out my first “eBook.” at the same time. I have turned the 1st year of Ask A Punk posts into an ebook that I’ll be giving away for free (at first) on every reading device known to man… and since I am doing that all by myself too, there has been a bit of a learning curve and several technical hurdles to overcome, but it all seems to be coming together now.
My weekly “LA Cartoon” is slowly starting to get some notice too.
Work. Paying work that involves a lot of thinking and the typing of funny things also appears to be in my near future again. and I should be teaching a new improv class soon. …and both of those things always makes me feel better.
…now if the Red Sox could only start winning.
Yesterday, for the first time in over three and a half years, I did not put up a new weekly post on my ASK A PUNK advice blog. I have put the blog on what I’m calling ‘active hiatus’ for a while. The reasons for this decision are fully explained in last week’s post… the final one for now. Meanwhile my Another LA Cartoon blog will continue with weekly posts every Thursday morning, and the occasional bonus post every once in a while.
In other news, a quick look at my calendar of upcoming shows (over there in the right-hand column) will tell you that I have several reading/essay shows coming up in the next few weeks. I’m always thrilled to get the chance to tell some of my stories on both new and familiar stages. The more I rework these stories, the better idea I get of how they all fit together (or don’t.) I’m starting to look at ways to put all the stories together into one long form piece, even longer than the original ‘A Punk’s Tale’ one-man show. We’ll see what I come up with. I’ll add the project to the list. ha. While it is always good to have more ideas than time to execute them, it can be frustrating too.
…and speaking of shows, I recently posted a video clip from my latest performance at “Sit n’ Spin” on the Comedy Central Stage at the Hudson (LA) on my page over at Funny or Die. If you have a few minutes click the picture below and go check it out… and vote: “Funny.” Thanks.