TV, Writing, Stuff!


Glad to see MadMen is back to its usual strong form. Two weak episodes gave way to some of the best writing on the show. Hope the trajectory continues.

Game of Thrones: I pity the fool who hasn’t read the books and is trying to understand what the hell is going on. I’m still enjoying it, but I am starting to wonder when the gal with the shoulder dragon will, you know, do something? Hurry up and wait is boring in the Army, and not much fun on TV.


Lots of people outline. Lots of people don’t. You have to find what works for you. Usually, the heavy lifting comes either before or after you write. Outliners get it out of the way before the prose, revisers do it after. Both have advantages. I finished a messy first draft with no outlining. I haven’t done this for anything other than flash in years. Unlike many proponents of fast writing, I don’t believe revisions are bad and ruin the magic of the first draft. They can, but so can writing a shitty first draft. I think developing a good compass for improving your own work is the mark of a professional. One thing messy first drafts often do, though, is provide you tangents that are utterly useless for the story at hand, but are clues, seeds, and considerations for future work.

This is an important value, especially if you’re going through a transitional patch of your career. What you get rid of is all part of the weird space your brain is in. Some of it might just be useless, but others are puzzle pieces to other things. I never really see these things appear in outlines. Outlining is a means of focus, of narrowing in. Which is great. You find out the most important thing for the story and roll with it. But even if there are dead ends and tangents in outlining, they never come alive like they do when they’re poking your eye in a story where they don’t belong. So, if you do like messy first drafts, keep an eye out for these stray pieces for other puzzles. They’re likely of value.

Now, a recommendation. If you’re a writer who’s kicked the can for a while, and are tried of the books that are only geared towards new writers (which is the biggest audience in this market) , I’d recommend you read Dennis Palumbo’s WRITING FROM THE INSIDE OUT, and  Nick Mamatas’s STARVE BETTER. Nick wrote a great piece on being a “great” writer that’s worth considering at any stage of your career.


Watched the Cameron Crowe Pearl Jam documentary PJ20. Apparently, I’ve hit the age of nostalgia and hard. I can remember with vicious recall what music meant to me at 15-19 year’s of age, and how hard I tried to make it work as a vocation, and how bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam created a hint of the possible for making an impossible dream come true. How much these guys in PJ loved music, performing, writing songs, touring, and how popular they became and the struggles they went through, just sang like an autumn breeze in my brain. And what’s funny, I wasn’t a huge fan. Sure, I had TEN, and saw them live twice, but they were never one of my core bands (sadly, all my core bands were gone before I picked up a guitar, except for the phenomenally talented and all but forgotten CHANGE OF HEART). But the documentary made me a believer.

On to reading books about counter insurgency.


About ridlerville

Jason S. Ridler is a historian, writer, and improv actor. He is the author of A TRIUMPH FOR SAKURA, BLOOD AND SAWDUST, the Spar Battersea thrillers and has published over sixty stories in such magazines and anthologies as The Big Click, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Out of the Gutter, and more. He also writes the column FXXK WRITING! for Flash Fiction Online. A former punk rock musician and cemetery groundskeeper, Mr. Ridler holds a Ph.D. in War Studies from the Royal Military College of Canada. He lives in Richmond, CA. Visit him on Facebook at
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