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Archive for June, 2010

Big News: I’m leaving Current

Last week I alluded to some big news coming up – and it’s here: This week will be my last week with Current TV.

I’ve been with Current since the month it launched, have had the opportunity to work on some of the most interesting projects in media in the last five years, and have learned and grown more from this one company than I could have from five different companies in quintuple the time. But for me, right now, it’s time to move on.

Why? What am I leaving to go do? Well, honestly – to write! I’ve got a lot of momentum going and I want to capitalize on that. For the next few months I’m going to be a full-time writer. (Crazy, right?) What will I attempt to accomplish in that time?

  • Write the first rough draft of the newly-christened Project Lazarette (thank you Amanda for that awesome name and my new nautical project naming system). It’ll be my second full-length novel and I think it’s shaping up to be a really great one.
  • Find myself a literary agent who’s willing to help find me some support/outlets for what I think is going to be a pretty prolific next few years.
  • Find some sort of greater perch for The Collective – either as the self-published book it is now, or by finding it a home with a publisher.
  • Exercise a lot and learn French.*

This Thursday will be my last day in the Current offices and then I’ll waste no time in getting started on Lazarette over the holiday weekend. I plan to give America 10,000 words for her birthday!

And for all you fans of collaborative participatory journalism, don’t worry, I’m not abandoning the good fight – I’m just taking a break!

Look forward to lots more blogging around here!

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(* I have this persistent image of the page Nick Carraway finds in Gatsby’s book with his childhood daily schedule. The range of regimented activities he’d undertake for one half hour or quarter hour at a time. My temptation is to make such a schedule, though everyone tells me it’s folly. That said, I’m totally serious about the exercise and the French.)

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“FNC Commentator is the New GOP Presidential Candidate”

Amid all the hullabaloo over Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s off-the-cuff quotes in Rolling Stone’s The Runaway General, I found my brain hazily remembering some offhand commentary from a few weeks back that the Right would consider him a strong contender for a 2012 GOP run. Consider that. Could an ex-general take on the incumbent President who fired him? In this political climate? Hell yes. Which got me thinking about what some of the other 2012 GOP hopefuls are doing to bide their time before kicking back off: being commentators on Fox News.

So if McChrystal is fired – how long does it take for him to show up on Fox as a commentator? Months? Weeks? Hours? Tim Carmody of Snarkmarket asks if that might have been his intention all along. A well-executed maneuver if so.

Is it ethical? A fired general becomes the government’s critic on the opposition media outlet? I’m not familiar with American military ethics, but my gut tells me it would be frowned upon. But, these days, completely plausible. (Tim says, “it’s like an ivy league kid getting a job at Goldman Sachs”) And before we throw stones at Fox, CNN picked up Ret. Gen. Russell HonorĂ© to talk about anything Gulf-related.

As a sidenote – I found the article itself really interesting. A good, tough look at the efforts of the counter-insurgency effort in Afghanistan. It’s politically inexpedient for McChrystal to shit-talk his civilian bosses in print, but honestly the piece made me appreciate the work he and his team are doing a lot more. (Open question as to whether or not his strategy is working.) This was a particularly great scene that I was surprised to find a little endearing:

The general’s staff is a handpicked collection of killers, spies, geniuses, patriots, political operators and outright maniacs. There’s a former head of British Special Forces, two Navy Seals, an Afghan Special Forces commando, a lawyer, two fighter pilots and at least two dozen combat veterans and counterinsurgency experts. They jokingly refer to themselves as Team America, taking the name from the South Park-esque sendup of military cluelessness, and they pride themselves on their can-do attitude and their disdain for authority. After arriving in Kabul last summer, Team America set about changing the culture of the International Security Assistance Force, as the NATO-led mission is known. (U.S. soldiers had taken to deriding ISAF as short for “I Suck at Fighting” or “In Sandals and Flip-Flops.”)…. By midnight at Kitty O’Shea’s, much of Team America is completely shitfaced. Two officers do an Irish jig mixed with steps from a traditional Afghan wedding dance, while McChrystal’s top advisers lock arms and sing a slurred song of their own invention. “Afghanistan!” they bellow. “Afghanistan!” They call it their Afghanistan song.

McChrystal steps away from the circle, observing his team. “All these men,” he tells me. “I’d die for them. And they’d die for me.”

Go read it!

UPDATE: Tim blogged about it too! He expands on his theory that this was planned by McChrystal, AND is pretty sure that Obama is Billy Crudup.

Researching is a Massive Public Work

A lot going on – and big news/updates to come – but I wanted to talk a little bit about research. I’m busy getting ready to write my second novel (but I guess my third book?). And this time I’m trying to do everything about this process “right.” The Collective, you remember, was a National Novel Writing Month book. I jumped in with eyes squeezed shut, outlining as I went, discovering the plot as it flowed from my fingers. That process was a lot of fun, but it meant the editing process, once I started to try to make sense of what I’d written, was a 12-month chore.

With this next book I want to cut that time down – and I aim to do it by smartly outlining and researching ahead of time. (Like a real book!) That’s the part I’m in right now – and it’s been a lot of fun, actually. I’ve got books and movies in a big long list. I’ve got a Scrivener document with ideas for scenes and characters. And I read for hours at a time and feel like I’ve accomplished much. Of course the danger is to get sucked in and research for forever. But I’ve set myself a due date – I’ll start writing in earnest on July 2. (Happy Birthday America, I got you 10,000 words!)

What’s the research been? Massive earth-changing projects. I read Dam! about the Hetch-Hetchy and right now I’m reading Path Between the Seas about the Panama Canal. (PBTS, BTW is an incredible book. The founding of the Republic of Panama reads like a Joseph Conrad page-turning spy thriller.) Next up in my queue: a book on Baron Haussmann remaking Paris and Ferdinand de Lesseps digging the Suez Canal.

Anything else you think I should read?

Also – I guess I should come up with a Sloanian codename for this next project, huh? That’s to come (though let me know if you have any suggestions).