Posts made in August, 2013

Grandpa Hank – An Introduction

Posted by on Aug 30, 2013 in Business Writing, Creative Writing, Stories | 0 comments

Grandpa Hank – An Introduction

All right, so this is my first entry into the “Grandpa Hank’s Writing Shack” blog o’ mystery. Why is it a blog o’ mystery? Mainly because it sounded somewhat interesting and quirky to me as I completed the previous sentence. Also in my head, things tend to sound better when narrated by a nice old Irish gentleman. At present, I have no idea the percentage of actual mystery that may actually appear in this blog. Fourteen percent? That sounds reasonable. I’ll aim for fourteen percent. But to be perfectly honest, the amount of mystery could end up at fifteen percent or higher. And looking back now on all the ups and downs over the course of this paragraph, all of this frightening unknown seems to have justified my feelings way back when I wrote that initial sentence two and a half minutes ago. It is indeed a blog o’ mystery. Personally, I feel much better.

What I’m going to attempt now is incredibly presumptuous. I’m going to answer some questions that absolutely no real human beings have asked me about this blog as of yet and pretend that the answers will somehow satisfy, you, a reader I’ve never personally spoken to.

Cue the completely made up confusion of people who don’t exist!

  1. Why a blog about writing? Aren’t there 3,493 other similar blogs out there? In fact, now that I think about it, four of my aunts have a writing blog as well.

Why thank you for your insightful question imaginary person with a moderately large family. I’ll be perfectly honest. The reasons are twofold. First, I’m about to be a stay-at-home dad. I get mind numbingly bored during the day and need something to occupy my mind when I get back from the gym. I can only watch so much NFL Live. Enter the blog.

Second, I make my living as a freelance writer and many of my clients have pointed out how difficult it is to find real, practical advice on writing that isn’t as boring as hearing about a third string linebacker’s ACL tear for the fourth time in a single afternoon. (Seriously, you can only watch so much NFL Live) I realized that many people who are incredibly skilled at their own profession, (business, marketing, education, fitness, etc.) are often called upon to step out of their area of expertise and into the writing arena. Whether it be print ads, brochures, press releases, a website landing page or any of the various other things that tend to pop up, all of them can be a bit hard to tackle for those who aren’t necessarily used to it. So I figured I’d attempt to share what I know in a comprehensive and fun way that will hopefully keep all of our minds from turning to gravy. Along the way, should anyone find this blog and ask specific questions, I’ll answer them to the best of my ability. What good is knowledge if we can’t share it?

  1. That’s great, chief, but what are your qualifications?

First off, Spanky, don’t call me chief. Man, I hate when my made up people with made up questions turn out so abrasive. The great thing about imaginary people with imaginary questions, however, is just how easily you can make them disappear. This dude is already buried out in the desert. But thanks for the question dead guy.

What exactly are my qualifications? Well to start with, I have a Bachelor’s in Communication from Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida, where I also minored in Creative Writing. I also have a MFA in Writing for the Performing Arts from the University of California-Riverside where I won a Samuel Goldwyn Screenwriting Award in 2007.

On the creative side, my plays and films have been seen all over the country. On the business side, I’ve written a myriad of things from internal “new hire” videos for a large national bank to the alumni funding videos for a couple major universities. I’ve written articles for local and national publications covering things like local theater, national sports tournaments, and why powerlifters need dietary fiber. I’ve penned blog posts for online coupon companies, condo complexes, and businesses that make prepackaged meals. I’ve sent out press releases for art exhibitions and local films. I honestly never know what’s going to spring up next. Often times I’ve had to do the research myself to make sure I’m doing things correctly. In my head, I’ve definitely said things like, “Wow, I don’t understand the terminology this company has provided in their notes at all. What the hell is gastrointestinal microflora?” and “How in the bloody socks am I supposed to awkwardly cram these five Internet keywords into such a tiny paragraph?”

I’ve learned from my successes as well as the mistakes I’ve made along the way. My goal is to pass all of that information on so that it’s easier on others than it was for me. Groping around in a jumble of words hoping the right ones float to the surface is frightening enough even when you’re actually familiar with the format you’re working in. It ranks somewhere between moderately annoying and slasher-flick scary when you don’t.

  1. Ok, that seems reasonable. So why the creative side to the blog?

Thanks for the question. And thanks for being so pleasant. I’m sincerely glad that I didn’t have to bury you out in the desert like the last guy. The answer is simple – it’s my passion. While I do a lot of business and marketing writing to help my dedicated and amazing wife pay the bills, what I love to do is create characters and watch them grow and evolve. I also love helping others find the best way to tell their stories. For me, it’s fun. It’s my release from everyday life. But I realize that everyone with a story to tell doesn’t find it so fulfilling all the time. The plan is to talk about what’s worked and hasn’t worked for me, as well as what’s worked and hasn’t worked for my friends and colleagues. In the near future I expect to have conversations, interviews, etc., with many writers I know from all over the country. Some are well established – names you may recognize, and some are just beginning to navigate the silly maze of what will become their writing career. I hope to highlight both the similarities and the differences of what we’re all going through.

I’m not going to lie. The life of the writer is an incredibly interesting and frustrating roller-coaster of happily depressed semi-insanity. Sometimes other writers need to know the boatload of crap that other talented people are going through just to survive. The last six years alone have seen me teaching at UC-Riverside, unemployed, on strike, unemployed, counseling at a tech-school, doing uranium exploration, unemployed, throwing drunks out of a college bar, repairing my grandmother’s house, unemployed, and cleaning garbage out of rental cars. And I did all of it to support my writing addiction. I suspect I’m not the only one. Well, probably the only one with that particularly stupid career path, but not the only one sacrificing for their stories. Cool. We’re on the same page here.

  1. You’re not named Hank nor are you a Grandpa. What gives with the name?

This is a very insightful question and I’m glad you brought it up nondescript question-asker. And the answer is simple. It sounded cool.

As I tried to come up with a unique name that might actually reflect the tone of the website, I kept picturing these old guys I know in the south. They all seem to have a half dilapidated shack out back underneath a Magnolia Tree where they escape to find their passion. Whether it’s a brew shack, motorcycle shack or ol’ fashioned haircut shack, I swear every grandpa in South Carolina has one. I just envisioned this old guy in a hammock underneath a single light bulb, writing in dusty notebooks surrounded by his favorite novels, whiskey-stained rejection letters and rusty old tools. And I found that guy really interesting.

Since my name is actually Kevin, my original idea was “Uncle Kevin’s Writing Shack” but that just sounded like a place some weird dude would lure neighborhood cats. “Grandpa Kevin’s Writing Shack” didn’t sound quite right either since I have yet to meet a grandfather named Kevin. It’s going to be really weird in a couple decades when traditional grandfather names like Hank and Walt and Dick are replaced with Ryan and Brandon and Tyler. “Hey, this is my grandpa Justin,” doesn’t sound quite right. I think at 60, all guys from my generation should be required to pick out a grandpa name. And mine’s going to be Hank. So there you go.

So welcome to Grandpa Hank’s Writing Shack. Hopefully some of you will find the forthcoming posts relevant to your situation as well as fun to read. And I sincerely hope that clears up all but fourteen percent of the original mystery, which I intentionally left in there to justify my earlier statistic.



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