5 holiday book reviews: Fagan to Ballard

51GbCyy64dL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_The Panopticon (2012) by Jenni Fagan
A teenage offender is sent to a secure unit after she’s found covered in blood and a police officer is in a coma. She breaks out, she goes on adventures, she describes her outfits in detail. I mistakenly thought this was sci-fi, but there was some fun to be had nonetheless.

When I was 20 I would have been thrilled to read this book: drugs, Gaelic slang, nights out, aimless violence, a central female character who doesn’t give a shit. These days it makes me feel all sorts of ancient and jaded.

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Your first draft is shit

Brawler, author, and noted pisspot Ernest Hemingway didn’t need to say much about how to write.

Although he’s one of the 20th century’s more prolific writers, he didn’t need to write a curriculum or self-published book to teach people what he knew. He didn’t even need to write a blog post. All he said was this:

“The first draft of anything is shit”

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How to conduct an interview

I would love to know how the Humans Of New York guy gets such good quotes. While the photos get the job done, it’s the story he manages to extract from people he just met on the street that really intrigues me. Put them together, and the impact of HONY is terrific:

“My brother has a big face.” (cute Sikh kids)

“I’m raising a biracial grandson full time. Every time I try to discipline him, he says it’s discrimination.” (older gentleman)

“We’ve been in the shelter system ever since their father was murdered.” (woman and her kids in a homeless shelter)

Interviews are an important part of my copywriting work, and I would kill to have an eighth of this guy’s talent at getting the story. While most people think I lounge about in my furs, communicating telepathically with the universe while stroking my cat, interviews and face-to-face meetings are a huge part of what I do as a copywriter. Continue reading

Galloping back

The media loves to infuriate us by profiling entrepreneurs we’re all supposed to emulate. Normal, hardworking people snort at these columns, yet day after day, newspapers are filled with this nonsense

  • The Google guys were 2 humble blokes in a garage
  • Steve Jobs was a hippie
  • Huffington gets to bed on time
  • Mia Freedman is like totally your best mate
  • Natalie Bloom was just a working mum with a dream

And so on and so forth. No mention is made of the university education, the white privilege, rich family, unbelievably supportive partner, bills covered, or any of the boring donkey work that makes up these tales. Continue reading