Whenever a writer says something like “words can’t describe how excited I am,” you know one of several things is true:
a) said writer has chosen the wrong vocation, b) said writer was feeling lazy, or c) said writer is really freaking excited, and thus incapable of finding the right words.
So I’m not going to tell you that words can’t describe how excited I am to be joining Macworld as Staff Writer at the end of April. Instead, I’m going to try to tell you precisely how excited I am, and explain why.
To the first part—how excited is he?—the answer is: exceedingly so.
The short explanation for why I’m very excited to be joining Macworld is simply that I love writing, I love Apple products, and I love the people already at Macworld.
Here’s the longer version:
I’ve considered myself a writer for almost as long as I can remember. I would create family newspapers in WordPerfect on our Mac LC, eventually graduating to PageMaker for fancier layouts, and to fictional stories for more entertaining prose. I recall writing fiction. And I unfortunately remember, with appropriate shame, an instance when I used “murdered” as a stronger form of “robbed,” in writing that a wealthy character “was murdered many times.”
I remember when Bruce Coville came to my school. He led an exercise where each student in turn would contribute one quality to the alien we were describing. Mr. Coville prompted the first kid with “color”; the response was “green.” The next kid was asked for “height” and provided “tall.” When he got to me, my prompt was “eyes.”
I responded: “Three.”
I don’t know that this response was as impressive as Mr. Coville treated it that day. He did a literal double-take, and then stopped the exercise for a moment. No one had ever answered the eye question with a number, he said; the answer was always a color. He praised my creativity, in view of the entire class. I felt like a million bucks. And then later, even though he was only signing one book per kid, he signed all of my “Teacher is An Alien” books.
Bruce Coville didn’t hook me on flexing my creative muscle, but he definitely made me think that doing so was nothing short of awesome.
I wrote for the weekly newspaper at summer camp. And not just because the newspaper counselor ten years my senior was super hot, but also because writing for the paper was a delight. My friend Seth Brown and I eventually co-wrote many pieces, most of them ridiculous. We thought them hilarious. Whenever I reread them now, I still do.
When the summer camp I’d been attending for a couple years merged with another, I wrote an editorial for the newspaper, attempting to describe the change in the camp’s feel now that two communities were becoming one. Many new folks—the Island Lakers—hated the editorial. Many “original” NE2 campers agreed with it. Representatives from both sides sought me out to tell me their feelings. The camp director did, too.
People read the stuff that I wrote. And it affected them. Enough to cheer or jeer me.
Again, this was awesome.
I began writing a weekly column for the school newspaper, The Chariot. It was a called “A Different Perspective,” with the word “Perspective” printed upside down. This was a humor column, and I relished writing it even more than I relished the positive responses the better columns could generate. I became the Chariot’s Layout Editor when the layout process moved online, and the Editor in Chief my senior year.
At Brandeis University, I wrote a weekly column called “The Lex Files” for The Justice, which I loved doing. It was the same thing as A Different Perspective, only slightly better written.
In September of 2001, like plenty of other people, I started my first blog. (It, too, was called The Lex Files, which proves that creativity has its limits. Or at least, mine does.)
In June 2002, after graduation, my then-fiancée Lauren and I moved to Los Angeles together. I immediately scored a horrid job working as a Hollywood agent’s assistant at Paradigm. I didn’t last long, and left for a job doing customer support for a web hosting company. Less than two years later, I went to work for a small web advertising company, and eventually left them for Intermix, the parent company of MySpace.
And I wrote a lot less. I continued blogging, but only sporadically, and with posts I wasn’t as proud of as the generally more polished columns I’d churned out for The Justice.
I left Intermix, joined a startup, moved to New Jersey, had kids, and joined Demand Media. Aside from intermittent, inadequate blogging, plus a few fun songs and music videos here and there, I wrote almost nothing.
Then, in February 2009, I saw a tweet. Actually, I saw the tweet a few times as various Macworld editors reposted it independently. Which was good, because I ignored it the first couple times I saw it.
The gist of the tweet was that Macworld was looking for freelance iPhone app reviewers, and that interested parties should email the address provided. I wrote in. I started writing.
Early on, it was short reviews for—forgive me—a mere pittance. It barely seemed worth it, but I submitted a few on a whim. But after I’d written a handful of those, my editor asked me to instead write longer reviews, for distinctly more money.
This was to be the start of a beautiful relationship.
I was writing again, and I was loving it. It was a fun side gig, a pleasant nights-and-weekends activity outside of my day job, and a few months into it, it started paying my mortgage.
The key part, of course, was the “loving it.” I didn’t just love it because I was writing, though that was certainly a big piece of it. But the fact was, I was writing about Apple products.
The first computers I remember using are my family’s Commodore 64 and our Kaypro. I learned to program (BASIC) on those computers; the Commodore booted into BASIC if you didn’t stick in a floppy disk when you turned it on.
After I’d exhausted my mom’s programming know-how, my parents hired a tutor from Radio Shack to teach me more about coding. To me, coding felt a lot like writing. I don’t know that many people share that sentiment, but I felt similar creative juices flowing with either process.
We eventually got an Apple IIc. It was Mom’s first and foremost, but I was afforded plenty of time to play on it. It was, of course, great.
Mom asked what kind of summer camp I’d like to attend. An athlete I wasn’t; a nerd I was. I told her I wanted to go to a camp that taught movie making, computer programming, and magic. She found one.
It was the same camp where I wrote for the newspaper. And indeed, made ridiculous movies, learned more card tricks and sleight-of-hand than anyone should know, and learned a lot more about computer programming.
Oh, and half the computers were Macs.
Glorious, glorious Macs. I still remember being awed that I could code painting programs on black and white maps, and the colors would really work and show up on the one color Mac in the lab when we tested it there.
The Macs at camps were tremendously more advanced than the Apple at home, and I quickly became hooked. I learned plenty about programming, but I was also learning a ton about Macs themselves. I thought The Chooser was awesome. These computers were all networked together, and it was so painlessly done.
Mom and Dad were planning on buying a new computer for the house, and they asked my sisters and me whether we’d like a Mac or an IBM. To me, there was no question.
We got a Mac LC. The one with the 40 MB hard drive. I installed so many damn AfterDark screensavers on that poor computer. We later got the Quadra 610, and then a Performa, and then I got a G3 tower to take to college. And I got to take our Personal LaswerWriter LS with me.
I remember when I unintentionally set an AfterDark password—and had no idea what the password was when prompted. When I learned that holding down Shift on startup could disable extensions, bypassing the password, I was a hero. (Of course, I was also in trouble for having set up the password in the first place.)
I’ve loved every Mac I’ve ever owned. Even the PowerBook that got stolen during a summer internship in LA. Especially that PowerBook, actually.
I lived through the Mac vs. Windows holy wars of the early 90s. I wasn’t swayed by arguments that the PCs had more games, more software, more whatever.
Macs were better. That’s what mattered. To me, anyway.
Like other Apple fans, I read oodles of rumors leading up to the release of the initial iPhone. But the day of the Steve Jobs-led event to announce the device, I was flying to LA to visit Demand’s main office. When I landed and got to the office I IM’d a friend to ask if I’d missed anything cool. He sent me a link to Macworld’s coverage of the event. I read everything. I watched the video of the keynote, and even when I knew what was coming, I still got goosebumps when Steve said that today Apple was unveiling three products (a widescreen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone, and a breakthrough Internet communications device)—and that it was actually just one device.
I didn’t get an iPhone in 2007. When the iPhone 3G was introduced the following year, on its launch day, I got my first iOS device—an iPod touch. For a year, I took my personal cell phone, my work Blackberry, and my iPod touch everywhere. I wore pants with big pockets.
I felt the same affection for my iPod touch that I did for all my Macs. Eventually, I got an iPhone 3GS and switched to just a single phone, cutting my pocket clutter from three devices to one.
And I’ve now maintained very close relationships with two iPads.
I hate terms like “Apple fanboys,” because they wrongly imply that we love Apple blindly, and will worship/praise/buy whatever the company comes out with. Not so.
I’m a fan of the company, and awed by its greatness. I love many of its products, and my life is better for them. I think the company can (and does) do wrong, and that it can (and does) make missteps.
But when Apple nails it, damn. There’s nothing like it.
And so, as I said at the outset: Writing for Macworld means getting to combine two loves—writing, and Apple. I can’t believe they pay people for this.
I’m joining a team of people whose bylines I’ve read for years, and for whom my respect has only grown as I got to know them. I’m ecstatic to be joining the team.
And 10,000 words later, I’m not convinced that words can adequately describe just how excited I am.