Friday, January 1, 2016

Still Planning to "Live the Life You Have Imagined"

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. - Henry David Thoreau

One year ago today, I posted those words as a motivation to myself to get started with "what I really want to do with my life." The plan was to get focused on developing the next level of a writing and speaking career, which is something I've always envisioned, even as I've managed a very successful career in public education, both as a teacher and now as an administrator. And, as I've noted in my recent post, I am not unhappy or disgruntled with my current personal or professional life. However, I have notebooks filled with ideas for articles I'd like to research and publish, papers I'd like to write, non-fiction works I'd like to develop and promote, and general ideas for work as an independent scholar and critic. Here are some thoughts from twelve months ago:

For many years, I've told people that when I grow up "I want to be David Brooks of the New York Times." That, or perhaps, Malcolm Gladwell of the New Yorker and "Outliers" fame. Basically, being a writer and speaker and cultural critic is my dream job. I've always enjoyed researching and writing and, basically, passing on information to others. That's why I am a teacher ... and I am fairly confident that I am quite good at what I do. But, for as long as I've been teaching, I've always been waiting for that moment when the writing/speaking career develops out of something I've written. For many years, I mistakenly thought myself a novelist. It took a friend who really is a novelist (though shockingly unpublished as of yet) to point out that I should be focusing on the non-fiction success that I've had and pursue that option. Really, duh. It was a surprising lack of self awareness on my part.

And, I am not there yet. Act III still looks a lot like Act II. But that's about to change.

2016 is somewhat of a significant year for this Gen Xer, for it was twenty-five years ago in 1991 that Douglas Coupland published Generation X: Tales for An Accelerated Culture, Richard Linklater premiered and released the pivotal piece of Gen X cinema Slacker, and a small band out of Seattle named Nirvana released an album called Nevermind and forever changed music, kicking off an era that became known as Grunge. All these moments in history impacted me to the point that I wrote my thesis for my MA on the works of Douglas Coupland. And, the idea of Generation X has always resonated with me as significant - even though acknowledging status as a member of Generation X is often considered a very "un-Generation X" thing to do. In fact, I find it to be one of the great ironies but appropriate quirks of Gen X that the average Gen Xer probably never read the book, and many have no idea who Douglas Coupland is. Most probably never saw Slacker, and probably wouldn't have really liked it if they had. And while most know Nirvana, the band and genre aren't necessarily a favorite. That said, it's worth noting that Coupland had always asserted "Generation X" is much more of a mindset than an age group. Nevertheless, those of us born between roughly 1961 and 1981 are a unique breed of society, and that is often lost amidst the media hype around Baby Boomers and Milennials.

So, if all goes according to plan this year, I intened to release several pieces of writing about Generation X and the popular culture surrounding the book, the people, and the era. For the past year, I have been working on a retrospective of the time since that pivotal year of 1991, and I hope to publish that sometime this spring. I am also planning on releasing a version of my thesis to coincide with my other work. After trying for many years - and falling painfully short - of publishing books, I have not sought a publisher for my Generation X writing, and I instead plan to release it via Create Space. These pieces will, I hope and believe, establish a baseline for the sort of pop culture criticism and scholarly writing I hope to do. Perhaps there will be a website to host and promote the book. There could be some speeches and book talks developed. A consistent string of articles is hopefully on the horizon, and I might even tinker around with things like a YouTube channel. While these ideas are certainly ambitious, and may not make the slightest ripple of an impact in the world of criticism, I hope that I don't reach New Year's Eve of 2016 without something to show for my efforts.

So, look for some articles, hope for some books, and wish me luck on another stab at Act III.

Here we go:  The Force Awakens.

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