Each month (when I'm not writing fiction), I spend more than 50 hours reading, synthesizing, thinking for myself, and creating essays on only the most thought-provoking material that changes the way I think (it might do the same for you).
I read literature, creative nonfiction, other people's essays, memoirs, genre fiction, scientific journals, and philosophical treatises.
You can see most of the major books I'm reading right here. Feel free to comment on my choices!
My promise to myself. I'll never stop testing my mental models against and in conversation with new arguments and ideas.
You've read my best work. While I've reached Top Writer status on places like Quora and Medium, I'd rather dedicate my work to a close-knit audience and community--that's YOU.
I want to do this forever.
The only way for that to work is to be self-sufficient. So I can be free of any influences that might hinder my mission to share this intellectual and emotional journey.
Who I Am...I grew up as a middle child, son of a teacher (my mom had 3 sons, which got us a lot of attention when we lived in one-child-policy China).
We also lived in Gabon and Indonesia on account of my dad's assignments in exploration. As a side note, my grandmother on my father's side happens to be part Indonesian. I didn't think much of this until my girlfriend said 'you have to mention this because it makes you sound exotic', to which I responded 1): I'm not sure how much that matters, and 2), if it makes me exotic, I know plenty of people more exotic than I am.
But what was cool about my childhood and teenage years was going to school in a setting with 50+ nationalities in the classroom...that was unique in a sense. That and traveling to new cities and countries on sports teams and with my music ensemble for festivals.
One of my most important memories was when I was 14, only a few months after 9/11, I'm at a birthday party in one of these party rooms at a movie theater...Osama Bin Laden comes on the television, and some of the friends of the person who invited me laughed and cheered. They cheered.
I still think about that often. The power of ideas.
I like to ask myself, 'What ideas have me?'
The best way to live, I think, is to encounter opposition to one's held idea, and allow the opposition to chip away or change one's model. At minimum I can come away with a sharpened and more sophisticated version of the model. My dad taught me this, and we have better and better conversations and debates as I accrue more knowledge, life experience, and dare I say, wisdom.
I started writing young, mostly, I think, having been activated by being read to by Mom and Dad and by doing my own reading, then wanting to emulate the science fiction and fantasy stories I was reading by writing my own stories. Tolkien, Le Guin, Asimov, Heinlein. You get the idea.
After a liberal arts education where I studied behavioral economics, political science, Chinese, and creative writing...
I worked 4.5 years in inventory management and then software project management at Target. (I also placed 9th out of 75 in the 2014 USA Memory Championship in Speed Cards and designed a card game app for the iPhone.)
Then, on my 27th birthday, 9/11/2014, I struck out on my own.
I started by writing two novels back to back. The first was about millennials making their way as intrapreneurs in a corporate setting. The second is the science fiction novel I just had critiqued by Max Gladstone (Craft Sequence) and Beth Meacham (editor of Ender's Game). That was a few months back, and I'm closing in on going to agents with the novel.
After putting the first novel aside, I wrote a lot of freelance articles on various marketplaces online, ranging from the future of soccer to the future of work.
In early 2016 I wrote an article for the friend of who would become my main client as of now. Our relationship began by me writing a 20-page essay comparing his book at the time and his competitor's work.
Since then, he brought me on as writer, I've edited the second edition of that very same book, and I'm the editor in chief for his main consumer site and the lead writer for the client side of his business. He also runs a gamified education community, and I run that, too. There's some great people in that community.
Some things in the hopper lately include my contributions to Bound and possibilities as a writer for a business-book-to-fable writing gig.
I also wrote a double-book review about Russia for a magazine in New York.
I enjoyed writing that essay so much that I wrote a few more. Then Medium featured one of my essays on being a super forecaster, and I decided it would be fun and useful to others to write more and share the output of my reading and writing adventures with you. Reports from the field!
Thing is, I consider myself a professional reader and a writer. This isn't supposed to sound fancy. You are a professional whatever-it-is-you-do, too.
But you don't have the time to go all-in on digesting ideas, playing with them, challenging them, clashing models against the edges of the universe's laws and seeing what comes out in the writing process.
And that's what I'm offering you, right here. Right now. And every month moving forward.
Your Investment in Growth & WritingI've honed my craft on places like Quora and Medium where my articles and essays have been viewed a combined 1,000,000 times.
But eyeballs aren't so interesting, because they don't challenge the way I think, and they won't make me a better writer so that the essays I produce are even more thought-provoking each and every week.
I want to continuously improve how I think, read artfully, write more clearly, and challenging my own ideas.
Here is a sample of my essays:
- Theseus’s Ship Has Sailed: Book Review of ‘The Strange Death of Europe’ by Douglas Murray
- Liberty’s Dim Light: Book Review of China Miéville’s Iron Council and ‘October: The Story of the Russian Revolution’
- All of Life is a Wager: On Overcoming Cognitive Biases and Becoming a Super Forecaster
- Want to be Less Offended? Try being More Open-Minded
And as an option...Listen to podcast recordings of these essays.
But I want to write even better essays. People like Christopher Hitchens, Masha Gessen, Saul Bellow, and Susan Sontag have given me a playbook to follow. And I know I will meet more voices which strengthen my own.
Here's how your investment helps me grow as a writer:
- Hunting & Gathering (mostly gathering). I'm a professional reader (member) on NetGalley, where I receive advanced copies of books from publishers before they hit the public bookshelves. I also spend time in online communities discovering and sampling books in the wild. I often purchase print books to make detailed notes.
- Professional writing conferences and cons. Last year I attended 4 writing conferences, including Minicon, 4th Street Fantasy, and The Symposium on the Sacred and the Cool at the Upper House. I will condense knowledge from these amazing conferences and share it with you.
- Reading Subscriptions. I consume and interact with the best ideas I find on Scribd, KindleUnlimited, Audible, NetGalley, Medium, The Point, Salvage, and more.
- Story Stadium Community. Part of my writing process is to engage with up and coming writers in a community I created on Slack for feedback, which I also invite patrons to visit here. I will personally give you feedback on your writing.
- Research. I have my head in up to 7 books a week. I usually poke around in a few more.
- Writing. Like most serious writers, my process includes ideation, drafting, multiple revisions, and proofreading. Most ideas don't get published. The best seeds flower into essays I share first with my patrons.
What You GetThe patron system is just that—a system for patronage. You get to support something you believe in.
That's a reward in itself.
Remember, the main thing I'm doing here is creating 2 long-form essays every month.
But because supporting my growth and believing in something isn't always enough, here are some special rewards that Patrons get. Rewards vary depending on the tier you choose.
- You love what I'm up to and want to contribute. Read all my work when it is published on Patreon ($1 tier)
- You are a reader. You want to learn and see how I'm applying what I learn to change who I am, each and every day. You get 2 to 4 patron-only posts each month, including 2 long-form essays a month. ($3 tier)
- You are a learner and student of the game of life. Each month I make a video post to answer reader questions or provide access to my private notes (you will learn how I think and do this work). ($7 tier)
- You become my collaborator. I will read your essay or short story and give you detailed feedback, once per month inside the Story Stadium writing community. ($25 tier)
- Speculative and skeptical debate via monthly Zoom calls (video conferencing) where we will debate the most important ideas from your interaction with my essays ($35 tier)
Also, as the best reward of all, you get to start a relationship with me and the other great people who are already supporting my work.
My promise. I'll never stop testing my mental models against and in conversation with new arguments and ideas. Together we will learn and explore and be better humans.
Always writing for you,
Hope to chat w/ you soon on Twitch! www.twitch.tv/decision_