Cruelty Wears Designer Clothes and Chain-Smokes in LESS THAN ZERO

In Bret Easton Ellis’ debut novel, what people say doesn’t mean much on the surface, but their masks slip before long. Less Than Zero follows Clay as he returns home to sunny Los Angeles for winter break from college. Bret wrote this book when he was twenty-one! Yes, I’m jealous. Get ready to meet some of the douchiest people you’ve ever met as Clay cycles through mansion parties, coke binges, expensive dinners, and bouts of crippling meaninglessness and anxiety in eighties L.A. You learn to pay close attention to the slightest of details–a sigh, a glance, the flick of a cigarette–because good …

Inspire Others By Doing It Yourself

Worrying about someone doesn’t help them. Be an example. You’ll never get back the time you wasted feeding your worry. When you’re 85, you’ll kill for the moments you wasted worrying about someone else. It’s normal, though. We want the people we care about to be happy, healthy, and successful. But the best way to help them do that is to be happy, healthy, and successful ourselves. You can inspire them. Worrying will never help. It’ll only exhaust you and waste the precious energy you need to be the best you can be. To help those around us we must …

Splinters

I’m walking down the boardwalk, feeling the bay breeze on my skin, not enjoying it in the carefree psych-meds-commercial kind of way, but using it to protect myself. This is the boardwalk where I’d run with my dad, my smile incomplete because of fallen baby teeth, my hair all blond curls, my eyes green and glued to my towering father. Right now it’s silent, the only sounds here are my thoughts and the water lapping at the stone under the boardwalk. Those days where we were both together and happy were few and far between, clumped together at the beginning …

Use Your Fear

Lots of us stand around, scared to make decisions, wondering where we should go, claiming we don’t have the answers. For those of you who fit that description (i.e. all of us at many points in our lives), I want to offer you a quote from Steven Pressfield’s War of Art, a book that changed my life. Pressfield says, “Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the …

Writing by Hand vs. Laptop and a Trick to Better Stories

This week I started writing my fiction longhand. I’ve always been a laptop guy, but my writing professor this semester recommended we all try writing with pen and paper. Typing lets you go as fast as you want, lets you follow a train of thought without missing a beat. I always thought writing longhand was inferior because of this. If I think faster than I write, why ever abandon my trusty Mac? Well, I gave it a shot, and I’m here to say that I’m gonna write longhand for the foreseeable future. It’s slower, sure, but it feels more deliberate. …