300 Days of Content (or, How I Let Go of My Resistance and Joined the Content Revolution)

One day in late December, I woke up and the thought popped into my head: Im going to make a little video every day for a yearstarting TODAY. I think in the back of my mind, I’d been ruminating on doing something like this, but the immediacy of the TODAY was sudden and new.

In the next five seconds, I thought Well, if I’m going to do a year, shouldn’t I wait until January 1st? But even as I thought that, I knew if I waited, at all, I would start planning it out, realize the whole thing was dumb and not do it.

So I told Paul, who was also waking up, my plan, along with its on-the-fly, less-than-creative name, “300 Days of Content.” After he finished grumbling that my plan was going to impact his plan to start running again (he had apparently been struck at the same moment by the impetus to start a project) he deemed it a good idea. He generally believes I could benefit from being less premeditated and precious in my creative life, and also knows I’ve been paying for an Adobe Premiere subscription for going on three years, and barely using it.

Thus 300 Days of Content project was born.

Which is ironic, because, for years, I’ve been resisting content — at least the term as we use it today.

Once upon a time, before the early 2000s, the word content used to refer to what what a work of art or literature contained. The content of a story was the plot and the characters etc.

But with the advent of the internet it came refer to “any form of digital media that is created and distributed online.” In the beginning, this was mostly text-based, because that’s what the technology allowed, but as the technology evolved so that everything is online, the definition has also evolved to include images, audio, video etc.

The first time I remember clocking the word content used in the “new” way was probably about 2006. I was in Florida, immersed my Creative Writing MFA program and someone on my new Facebook account was talking about generating content. I remember feeling irritated. The way she was talking, it sounded like if someone wrote a Facebook post, it was content and if someone wrote the new War and Peace, it was also be content. Here I was, investing my sweat, tears, time and money into becoming an artist, and now this yokel was reducing all my work — all of everyone’s work — down to one thing? What the hell?

Nearing two decades later, we call television shows and films content. Reality shows are content. Enormous essays in magazines are long form content. Podcasts are audio content. TikTok videos are content. This blog is content. The contents of the content—its goodness, badness, worthy-of-existence-ness — is a secondary consideration to be discussed in think pieces that are also content.

Man, 2006-Barrington would have railed against this with energy and conviction.

But 2023-Barrington is tired and no longer knows anything.

Maybe insisting on evaluating and categorizing the contents of the content simply old-fashioned and elitist. Maybe I’m just yucking on everybody’s yum. Though not really, “everybody” because who’s listening to me anyway? Which I guess means I’m just yukking on my own yum.

All because I don’t like a word.

Because I’ve actually always loved making stuff. Drawing, tie-dying T-shirts, making up skits, improvising dances, writing this blog — all compulsive acts of creation, resulting in stuff. Stuff can be dumb and it doesn’t matter (at least at first). It doesn’t have to be subject to self-assigned stakes or agendas.

And isn’t content just another word for stuff?

So I’m making some stuff, and calling it 300 Days of Content.

(It’s a learning expedition, and I think I’ll eventually explore housing all 300 videos on a YouTube channel or on this website, but the fastest and easiest tool to get started was TikTok, (which then shares to Instagram) so for the moment that’s where my stuff is.)

2022 Recap #1 (“Everything is Awesome”)

This year I decided to do two versions of a year-end newsletter. This is the one I sent at the end of November to entertainment industry contacts and folks from that arena. It is work-focused, accentuates the positive and politely doesn’t mention the negative. Privately, I think of it as the “Everything is Awesome, I’m Awesome and You Should Hire Me” Edition… Enjoy!

Happy End-of-Year Greetings!

2022 was a topsy-turvy year, but there was still good fun to be had.

WORK: I was super-happy for opportunities to use my writing and production skill sets this year by:

  • Writing my first DIGITAL COMIC. Based on I.P., it follows an ex-mobster’s adventures in the afterlife.
  • Crafting mythology and lore for a VIRTUAL REALITY GAME where you are transported to a magical island to learn to meditate. (With frequent collaborator Paul Seetachitt.)
  • Producing VIDEOS and LIVE SHOWS at a major toy company.

CREATIONS: It’s always a burst of dopamine to see one’s creative work have a life out in the world:

  • TIME OUT, my segment of Creepshow (written with Paul Seetachitt), was featured in Shudder’s ads for the show and immortalized as a comic book in the hands of the six-foot animatronic Creep sold for Halloween!
  • Two original works (a pilot and a short story) were optioned by production companies who pitched them this year.
  • Flash fiction, MY HULK appeared in Altered Reality Magazine.
  • GIRL, WOLF, WOODSMAN will be published in Santa Monica Review this spring. A short story that imagines Little Red Riding Hood’s life after she’s “saved from the wolf.” There will likely be a live reading, and I get paid in unlimited contributors copies, so let me know if you’d like to be on the list for either of those!

ADVENTURE:

  • I am coming out of the closet as a Solar Return traveler. That’s a person who lets an astrologist recommend where in the world she should be on her Solar Return (aka birthday) to optimize her horoscope for the coming year. This year’s destination is Samsun, Turkey! In two days, I’ll be on a plane to Istanbul.

2023, LOOKING FORWARD:

  • Two pieces of fiction and three specs didn’t make it to the finish line this year. If I can pull them across in 2023, I’ll feel great satisfaction.
  • There’s a sweet horror short we’ll be trying to get in the can.
  • Work-wise, I’m fortunate to have a couple “holds” for jobs on the books, but also have some stretches where I am available. Need someone in or around a writers room (temp / sub or freelance)? Production support for an Indie-film? Or something new and interesting? Give me a shout!

Sending you my warmest wishes for satisfying work, whimsical adventures, health, happiness and love in the coming year!

Barrington

Pre-Travel Anxiety

What is the purpose of this theatrical exercise—of standing on stage, arms outstretched then falling backwards trusting life will catch you, of taking leaps of faith to prove to yourself you won’t hit the ground… at least too hard?

Maybe it’s that trust takes strength and skill, the development of which requires practice. We play scales and the exercises of Czerny on the piano— thousands of notes designed to be forgotten— in order to be able to play other notes which are arranged to be remembered. 

This is what I wrote in a notebook a few weeks ago, when I was feeling philosophical. 

This week I’m not feeling so philosophical. This week I’m mainly wondering, why the fuck would someone who has as much pre-traveling anxiety as me keep choosing to undertake a monumental yet completely optional and frivolous pilgrimage each year?

For the past week my chest has been tight, I get these weird pressure headaches in the evenings, and my right eyelid has been twitching intermittently. Every travel arrangement seems fraught.

For example, to keep costs down, I purchased cheaper tickets with carry-on luggage only, which seemed like a nice self-discipline when I booked – wouldn’t I be happier not lugging around a huge case? But it’s turned out that every flight has slightly different carry-on requirements. I’ve spent hours measuring, reading rules, and consulting Reddit threads about how strict they’ll be about an extra inch here or there. I have two flights on Pegasus Airlines, which seems to be the Turkish equivalent of  Allegiant Airlines, in that the flights are cheap, but the baggage allowance is exactly one piece. Any item, including a purse or laptop bag counts as that one piece, regardless of its size.  Anything additional must be purchased in advance or will cause a large fee at the airport 

On one hand, I feel outraged at a world so clearly determined to penalize the poor at every turn. On the other hand, I absorb the judgmental messaging about what it means to be of lower economic status. If I “mess up” and end up paying a punitive fee, then I probably deserve it for failing to diligently read all the fine print, or selfishly packing so much that I can’t also fit my laptop bag into a 20” carry-on. And the fact that I chose such a low-rent airline to begin with points to suspect life choices. When people make better life choices, their money flows like a river instead of arriving too-seldom and unpredictably like the rain in LA. People who make better life choices fly Turkish Airlines, which is civilized, and allows both a suitcase AND a personal item.

Between my natural tendency (augmented by training) to see small events as representing larger issues, and the fact that these trips coincide with my birthday and the end of each year—the two traditional times for evaluating one’s accomplishments and questioning life’s purpose—it’s not surprising that in these anxious moments I can transform every little thing into a reflection of and referendum on my life. It’s not a great headspace.

But I know from experience that once I’m on the plane, a huge amount of this anxiety will disappear. In my current state, I fear that it won’t, but it will. 

I just have to practice trusting.

Application Fun

I spent a frightening portion of the last few weeks prepping an application for the Universal Writers Lab. For readers who aren’t aspiring screenwriters, a lab like this is essentially a miracle ticket — a salaried, year-long fellowship where the participant receives mentorship while developing work with producers, execs, and others, all combining to hopefully provide a springier spring-board into the industry than the participant has experienced thus far.

Applying to opportunities like these are moonshot endeavors, as usually only half-a-dozen are chosen from many applicants. To give you an idea of how many – a couple years ago I prepped an application for similar lab, but when the application portal opened, there were so many applicants it overwhelmed the submission portal. Ultimately the organizers capped the number of applications at 4000, leaving an uncounted number of people left over. Such is the glamorous life of an aspiring Hollywood writer!

I can tell that the organizers of the upcoming Universal lab really tried to cover all their bases, detailing what to name documents, what formats to use, word and page counts, font size, line spacing and even how to address the optional referral letters.

But it’s impossible to predict all the pain points. Because the third party submission portal had no way to save an in-process application, I lost my work three times. Coming to the end of the application the third time, I was getting excited about the nearness of the “submit” button, when I discovered the final “question” was actually a form that needed to be downloaded, hand-signed, scanned, uploaded AND sent to my agent for their hand-signed signature as well! A bummer of a surprise on get on a Saturday night, though it would have been more of a bummer to get it on the Monday evening it was due.

Such administrative oversights land harder in the context of the feelings raised by filling out applications in general. For me, the whole application process calls my life into question — when I’m asked for referral letters, I wonder why I haven’t cultivated have a larger network and more intimate relationships? When tackling the essay prompt, I question whether my life experiences or thoughts could possibly be “unique”! The 15-year limit on work history on the resume is a reminder that few see the life experience of older applicants as having value or relevance. Same for unpaid labor. Although the focus of the initiative is diversity and inclusion, my projects with diverse collaborators didn’t qualify for mention because they were the most difficult to find money for. Overall, the application process is a prolonged reminder of the chasm between where I am and where I want to be, which in turn causes me to self-interrogate — do I think that wanting something badly makes me worthy? Worthier that the 4000+ applicants with their own stories to tell?

At a certain point the overwhelm is too much, I have to give up on these questions. Work continues, even on wrong side of the chasm, and it has its own rewards: For me, the rewards of making through this application are that I finally created a complete project list with loglines that I’ve been needing for ages. I revised a treatment. I re-opened a feature script that broke my heart last year and realized my heart is mended and I have the distance to revisit it again. And I wrote a 750-word essay that would live a better life as a longer-winded and more introspective 1500 blog post — so ya’ll can look forward to that.

What’s Going On (Random Life Stuff)

Welp, I’ve let a couple months go by without posting, and now enough has happened that it’s difficult to pick any one thing to talk about, so I guess I’ll just ramble and see what comes out.

Right now, Paul and I are babysitting for our three and a half year old nephew. It’s a fun age to spend time with kids because they tend to be very loving and enthusiastic about the familiar adults in their lives. But it’s also an age where they demand lot of attention. Today’s original plan was to arrive around 6pm, and our assumption was that we’d eat and play and nephew would stay up an extra hour or so (that was a big deal when I was a kid!), and be asleep around 8:30ish. My original plan had been to work on one of my current gigs —story for a digital comic— for a couple hours in the afternoon, and then a couple more after nephew went to bed.

It turned out we actually needed to come earlier —around 3pm. When we got there, my brother-in-law informed us, that because it was special baby-sitter night, there were no rules! Our nephew had permission to watch TV or play as late as he wanted, etc… and they had let him have an extra long nap in preparation.

I’m sure you see where this is going…

At 3pm, our nephew was literally shrieking in excitement at our arrival. He couldn’t wait to show us his new plastic black widow spider.

The beloved Black Widow Spider

Eight hours later, we’ve played about a hundred games that involve hiding the spider, going for walks with the spider, building a cushion cave for the spider, playing “the floor is lava” with the spider. My nephew informed me at one point that the spider has “had a very good day.” It’s going on 11pm now, and I can report that while the spider’s battery seems to be depleting, my nephew’s energy is unflagging. Right now, he and Paul and the spider are watching You-tube videos set to repetitive carnival-like music and I’m stealing some laptop time to write this and send grateful thoughts and psychic reinforcement to all parents, teachers and childcare providers in the world… (more tomorrow).