Do you subscribe to Netflix? If so, you are one of the more-than-50-million people who do. I have the service, myself, and love it. I prefer to consume television shows (content) from beginning to end and Netflix allows you to do this better than anyone before. Oh, and It’s also only, what, $9 a month?
Basically, Netflix delivers a lot of value at a low cost. But it also does some other things. They have the ability, given the platform they’ve created and the subscribers they’ve accrued, to provide us with something even more valuable: original content. In the last couple years, Netflix has released the multi-Emmy-nominated House of Cards and Orange is the New Black to critical acclaim and cult-like fan followings. There are other projects as well, including Hemlock Grove and continuations of previously created content such as the fourth season of Arrested Development.
Here is an excerpt from my second draft. If you haven’t read the first chapter excerpt I’ve already published and/or would like to read it again for context, you can do so here. Please enjoy, share and let me know your thoughts! Thank you.
My Name Is Jackson Birch
A novel by Jabril Faraj, Draft 2
After a few months at the farm, the sun had fully set on our previous lives and we found ourselves in the midst of darkness. Many of us were relatively handy but this, this was an entirely different plane of existence; we had to learn how to survive all over again.
When you have nothing you start from whatever you have and try to make the best of it – that’s exactly what we did. We’d brought some small items with us and a few more had awaited our arrival. In all, we had in our possession a few older weapons, some tracking gear, other simple tech and the farm, complete with a few cows, a dozen or so chickens and a field or two of corn and wheat. It wasn’t much – it wasn’t what we were used to – but it was more than we could have asked for. We were thankful.
I saw someone say recently that “Goals are nothing but dreams with deadlines.” That resonated with me. So often, we put things off until tomorrow – paying bills, making that phone call, doing that thing that needs to be done – and constantly avoid committing or fail to put ourselves out there for fear of being rejected or let down. We think “If I don’t expect anything then I won’t be let down.” But, in the end, it isn’t the time you failed that you will regret; it’s the time you didn’t try.
From the outset, I’ve made a point of setting goals for my writing. I haven’t met all of those goals but, in the course of pursuing them, I continue to get closer and closer to my ultimate goal: publishing my first book. I participated in National Novel Writing Month last November. The goal (for everyone who participated) was 50,000 words. At the end of November, I had about 5,000 new words. At first, I was disappointed – I’d hardly dented the goal I’d set out to achieve. But, looking through a different lens, I realized that, though I hadn’t achieved the lofty goal I’d set out after, I had achieved something: 5,000 more words I didn’t have at the beginning of the month and my most productive month writing since the beginning of the year.
Hey, there! I know, I know – it’s been a while. I’m sorry. And, yes… I’m still writing.
In case you were wondering, that’s the Twitter hashtag abbreviation for National Novel Writing Month. This writing challenge takes place in November and the goal is 50,000 words over the course of the month. I started with big goals. I hadn’t touched the novel in months and, quite honestly, hadn’t done any good amount of writing in a while.
One of the things I have found to be true is that many people have a limited scope of experience with the world — more aptly, the many different “worlds” that exist within our society. Now, in no way do I claim to have experienced everything the world has to offer; far from it. However, I do believe I have a unique experience that merits sharing.
Growing up in the “city”, I was, as a child and adolescent, exposed to many things that most of the people I know were not. There are many who would call my neighborhood “unsafe”. Yes, there is the occasional break-in or theft and one of my good friends was held up for his bike when he was 10 years old. But a little bit of “insecurity” is a small price to pay for perspective.
So you want to write, huh? Alright. Now that we have that settled, where do you start? It’s, honestly, quite a difficult question to answer – and one that almost everyone will have a different answer to. But, first, you need to ask “why?”, “why do I want to write?” Whether you’re writing simply for pleasure, writing as a pastime or whether you’d like to don the revered title of “writer”, the motivation is what’s most important – it’s what will help push you through the hard times and will keep you writing regardless of all the reasons you “shouldn’t”.
In a 1938 response letter to family friend and hopeful author Frances Turnbull, F. Scott Fitzgerald critques her work (a short story) saying, “You’ve got to sell your heart, your strongest reactions, not the little minor things that only touch you lightly”. He essentially goes on to question if Turnbull has the dedication to make a career out of what Fitzgerald calls, “one of those professions that wants the ‘works.'”
“Okay, class; time to pull out your drawing pads,” Ms. Brackens said as the children settled into their seats.
This was David’s favorite part of the day. He just loved when they got to draw. People were always asking him what he wanted to be “when he grew up” – well, he didn’t know what he “wanted to be” but, as long as he could draw, he didn’t really care.
He reached into the canvas backpack on his lap and pulled out the sketchpad he’d gotten from his father the last time they were together. It had been almost three months – just before his eleventh birthday. They’d gone to Milly’s for a burger and ice cream the Wednesday before; it was their favorite place. David liked it because, no matter what was going on, they could always just sit there on the stone steps outside and enjoy each other’s company.
I let out a sigh as I reached for the door handle. It had been a long day. What was I saying? I hadn’t had a “short” day in, oh, more than five years or so; it was starting to wear on me.
Around me, everything was just peachy. I lived in a nice flat by myself in lower Manhattan and had, almost in spite of myself, learned to cook and found time to work out on a regular basis. Even my job at a large, international consulting firm, though it hadn’t really interested or challenged me for quite some time, wasn’t anything to complain about.
But I wasn’t happy, either. Maybe that’s what I was doing here. There had been a point when I enjoyed my own company but more and more I had taken to seeking out anonymity in the mob, drinking heavily and disappearing into the maw of numbness they provided.
Today, I’m inspired. I’m so inspired I can’t write fast enough. I’m bursting at the seams with hope, I’m filled to the brim with excitement, my veins are coursing with enthusiasm. Why, you ask?
This last Sunday was the end of Milwaukee’s second Young Professional Week, a week-long of twenty-two different events with a message of community, collaboration and vision at its core. It was a week when the city’s young people came together and said “We’re changing our city, we’re going somewhere and we’re doing it together”. And to cap off this fantastic week of programming, Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, gave a talk on company culture, community and his vision for what they’re trying to do in Las Vegas to change the city for the better.