I had a great time talking to Neal Stephenson, author of SevenEves. He’s a fascinating writer and his book is really good. Take a look. Now that I’ve interviewed him and William Gibson I’ve completed my collection of great cyberpunk authors and can die happy.
There’s a fun thing I do with folks I meet who want to write a book or build a startup or put up a blog post. I say I’ll help them. I give them a few pointers — for book folks I recommend they prepare an outline and we can tag-team the chapters. In this way they could finish a book in a few months. It would be their book, I’d give up all rights. Maybe they could pay me if they get paid but I basically say “Yes.”
I’m working on a new project that’s designed to offer editing on demand. It’s called
Typewriter.Plus (or just Typewriter) and I started in at the and of July and we’ve already seen a few thousand in billings. In short, it seems like something people are really interested in using.
If you’d like a quote simply upload your document and the robot will give you a price. The price is high because I’m using amazing writers and editors instead of bodies in chairs and I think it’s going to be really useful. Let me know what you think.
Some startup zealots posted a quote a few months ago:
“Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames”
This quote really bothered me. For some reason, in the doldrums of startup building, I saw it as a warning. Set your life on fire. That’s an insane proposition. And then you’ll know your enemies by how they fan your flames.
But then I realized something: this quote meant something entirely different. It meant that you had to find the right people to help you grow, to help you expand, to help you gain the most out of your adventure. They fan your flames. They help you burn brighter.
I gave a talk at Impact CEE about this quote and I’d like to share it with you. I’m not usually emotional on stage but this was one of the few times that I shared personal truths with a room full of people. Anyway, enjoy.
John Sundman is on parr with Bruce Sterling and William Gibson in future-telling and he sat down with me for a few minutes at Disrupt in Brooklyn to talk about the future of nanobots, CRISPR, and genetic engineering.
It’s been a habit of mine since birth and I’m sure you share it: I try to check out bookshelves whenever I can. During dinner parties I gravitate to the host’s stacks in an effort to suss out their taste and opinions. Homes without bookshelves are as sterile as Intel clean rooms. They show that either the host is an insufferable bore or they are one of those weirdos who gave up all possessions. Either way, as John Waters said, “if you go home with somebody, and they don’t have books, don’t fuck ‘em!”
What’s the point? The point is that we are fast approaching an era when books will be as cumbersome and unnecessary as vinyl. The olds among us will remember the days of packing your vinyl into THOU SHALT NOT STEAL milk crates and driving them cross country next to bulging boxes of paperbacks. These days my music is in my phone alongside my books. I have one crate of vinyl that I haven’t listened to since I was 21 and I have shelves of books that I rarely look at except in quiet reverie.
And printed books are in trouble. Don’t let the publishers tell you otherwise. They’re falling rapidly at a rate that will put them equal ebook sales in 2017. It’s bad news for folks who love slipcovers.
You are hurtling towards a strange future, a future full of invisible nanobots, amazing technology, and, ultimately, ready access to delicious coffee and croissants served at a street-side cafe as life washes by your contented brain. In short, the future won’t be full of Blade-Runner-esque horrors and endless rain. It will be a nice day in a nice place — everywhere in the world.
I cribbed this vision of the future from one of my podcast guests, Ben Hammersley. Ben, like me, is a techno-optimist. He believes that a truly developed world, one where robots take over our driving and travel and technology becomes ubiquitous and invisible, looks more like a nice walk in Barcelona than the Warriors. Why? Because as good things become generally available and we have to work less to get them the future will be far more pleasant than we all imagine.
You get fat. That’s the worst thing. I’ve watched every single one of the writers I’ve grown up with — with a few very rare exceptions — get fat. It’s actually quite funny. Look for old videos of me. I was once a calm, skinny early 30-something and now I look like a nervous beluga. There is nothing healthy about this lifestyle. Either accept that or get out now. You can exercise but unless you’re an ectomorph or willing to run more than you write then you’re stuck. You can quit and start surfing and get skinny again, but this requires you live in Hawaii.
You learn how to write fast. I can put up a blog post in five minutes. I’m not proud. I’ve been sprinting so long that writing anything longer than 1,000 words is an odd feeling. To be a true long-form writer you have to produce, edit, and revise for hours. I learned that blogging ruins long-form when I wrote my books, most notably Marie Antoinette’s Watch. I could not hold a thread and my writing, while dense, was imperfect. I didn’t have the discipline necessary to write long. Here’s hoping I can get it back. Treasure it if you have it, even if it won’t make you any money.