Jack, Reid and Cal, You’re really young. There are a LOT of things you don’t understand. Why school matters. Why you can’t have your own YouTube channel. Why Donald Trump is a Presidential candidate. As your dad, I try to explain these things to you, as best I can. I don’t always do a super-hot job. But I try. And I’m going…
We live in strange times. Who would have thought that a businessman turned reality show star would have a shot at becoming President of the United States? Not most people! You’ve been written off as a candidate almost from the jump. We also live in a world where people think Batman can beat Superman in a fight. Preposterous, right? Makes…
The other day, I perched our elf on the arm (?) of a light fixture in our dining room. We had the light on for a while that night. Zart must have liked the warmth and leaned in, because when I went to hide him the next morning, he looked like a burn victim.
I have been blessed with you three boys. If I have a mission statement as a parent, it’s this: raise good people. Maybe it’s apologetic or too politically-correct by half to say that. Why wouldn’t I want to raise good men?
I have no problem with strong women. I married one. But as a father of three boys, I have plenty of problems with Sheryl Sandberg and the way she thinks we should go about turning young girls into leaders.
This week, I presented my thoughts on what makes a good story to about seventy colleagues and clients. This is the fun kind of presentation, where money isn’t on the line.
Rather than talk about the hero’s journey and other topics covered ad nauseum in countless books about writing, I looked at my five favorite stories to try and figure out what made them great to me.
Picking five favorite stories is like asking me to pick my favorite child. For purpose of presentation, I chose Franny and Zooey, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Toy Story, Breaking Bad and Harry Potter.
My point was that we make stories great. Our experiences help us to enjoy stories. Our point of view helps us tell good stories.
But that means we have to be open to both feeling and sharing.
That’s when I made them put their it out there and field-tested an idea I’ve had for a long time — Once Upon a Wiki, a crowd-sourced story platform.
I had written the first sentence of the story as a prompt. Then asked nine other people from this room of mostly strangers to write successive sentences. Their goal: a story I could read to my kids at bedtime.
When we were done, I spent an hour laying it out so it could be printed and handed out to class. I was hoping to do more than save $12 at Barnes and Nobles.
I wanted to show this group that we can all tell stories. That we’re all creative. And that writer’s block can totally get his ass kicked if he doesn’t watch himself.
It’s not often I have the opportunity — or willingness — to mash every aspect of my life together. It was as close to I’ve come in a while to being what I thought I would be: a college English professor. And, given how often the demands of work mean sacrificing time and attention toward my family, it was nice to have them at work with me. All told, a pretty well-spent three hours of time.
And one I want to recreate with the boys and work on a book with them. Although the way the middle is talking, I’d be afraid most of the plot points would resolve around poop, butts and wee wees.
At this point, we can all agree that parenting is different than it was a generation or two ago. As much as we chuckle at the aloof horribleness of Don Draper as a father, surely things couldn’t have been THAT bad, were they?
Let’s take a pair of beloved children’s books and find out.
So, there I am, in a bar with my wife, a few drinks into a night filled with dancing and drink and the music that I listened to on my Walkman. It was the closest thing my wife will ever come to having a date with my younger self.