Author: Justin Meckes

Filmmaker

For most of my twenties, I actively pursued film directing as a vocation. I wrote full-length screenplays. And I wrote and directed a number of short films that debuted in festivals. One of those shorts was even promoted on an IFC program titled Media Lab Shorts Uploaded. But after one particularly disastrous shoot, in which the film I was working on wasn’t even finished, I began to think I’d left my true vocation behind. I wanted to be a novelist and that seemed to be showing in the stress I felt on set as well as an increasing lackluster when it came to corralling actors. Before that shoot, I bought a Krasnogorsk-3 so I could try shooting 16mm film. It was shipped in via eBay all the way from the Ukraine. And it’s the same camera I believed was used by undergraduates at USC film school. That camera is still sitting on my bookshelf. And I’ve kept it there over the past decade for good reason. My dream of becoming a filmmaker is bound up …

Manual Transmission

I’ve been driving a vehicle with a manual transmission for more than a decade. Having said that, I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t know what that is. These days they’re increasingly rare. Put simply: Most cars are considered “automatic” because they change gears… well, automatically. And a manual transmission requires that the gears are shifted manually by the driver. If you didn’t already know this, then it may sound complicated but it really isn’t. To be honest, I don’t know a great deal more about cars than how to check the oil or change a tire. And I can still drive a stick. Speaking of the gear stick, that’s precisely what makes driving a manual so fun. It puts you in tune with the car (no pun intended). You learn to hear or, better yet, feel when it’s time to shift gears. This can be especially exhilirating amidst rapid acceleration and/ or on curvy mountain roads. However, there is a problem with loving manuals. I purchased my last sedan in 2016 and the vehicle …

15 Minutes

Last year, I signed a contract to ghostwrite a short novel. It was on a tight deadline, and I have a day job. So I knew I was going to have to maximize the way I use my time both before and after work. I did this by breaking both time periods into 15-minute increments. While I was writing the book, I woke up every day at 6 AM and spent 15 minutes eating breakfast and drinking a cup of coffee. Then, I took a quick shower. By 6:30, I was writing and doing so for one hour. The rest of the morning went to a workout and a bit of straightening up or reading before heading out the door to work. When I got home, more often than not, I went to work on the novel. That left me with some time to take a walk, eat some dinner, and a little unwinding before going to bed. The best thing about this kind of routine was that I knew where I was supposed to …

Wake Up

I wish I could say that I woke up like Bruce Lee. I read in John Little’s The Warrior Within that he was doing a set of exercises before he was out of bed in the morning (e.g. arching the back, stretching, leg lifts, and more). That’s not exactly my routine. I roll out of bed, stumble into the bathroom, and then fill up on as many cups of coffee as possible. This is something I want to work on but it has been effective. I’d have my breakfast with my coffee, spent a little time waking up by staring at the weather report, and proceeded to move into the office to write for an hour or so. Periodically, I’d head straight from my office to the gym. It just depended on whether I was working out in the morning or the afternoon that day. This struck me as fairly productive, which may have been the problem. I slipped into some complacency over my morning routine. Because there were times when I’d schedule my mornings …

Vinyl

I’m not sure why but a good deal of the music I enjoy was written and performed in the late 60’s and early 70’s. I’ve heard it said that people are most nostalgic for the period right before they were born, so that explains it, right? I’m not sure but I enjoy Bowie, Young, the Stones, and various other acts that were active around the same time. The music during this time period just strikes me as a little more authentic, for some reason. Don’t get me wrong, there are musicians that I enjoy that were making music outside of that time period. Luna comes to mind. And Radiohead. That might sound cliché but they are responsible for my favorite album, Amnesiac. I’ve read that it was inspired by Dante’s Inferno. I can definitely see the connection and further believe that that album is the sole reason I want to own a record player. I don’t yet, but I have a dream in which I’m sitting in my office chair working while the turntable is …

Patience

Not everything in my life is the way I want it to be. In a few cases, my patience has been worn thin and I’m justifiably frustrated. But, in other areas, I could use a little more tolerance for discomfort. Ideally, I would approach scenarios that test my patience with a cool head. This might require a certain level of detachment and while that could be healthy, I sometimes fear it can be taken too far. I want to feel free to express emotion–when necessary. And I would prefer to avoid self-imposed despondency for the sake of equilibrium. To further complicate the matter, becoming unfeeling or unmoved by the things that make me suffer seems like an unobtainable goal. Life has brought me (like everyone) obstacles, and I have been able to achieve a level head regarding my plight, for the most part. The problem is that there is one major area of my life that brings me persistent and severe agitation. In fact, I have no patience for my predicament and very little hope …

Computer

I keep my computer desktop clean. By doing so, I’m treating it like I would my actual desk. My office desk has a lamp, a coaster, and my computer sitting on it. Of course, there are times when there are other things on my desk like a pair of headphones, keys, or a wallet. But my baseline helps me avoid clutter. When it comes to computer organization, I’ve read that keeping files off the desktop can help with RAM. However, with the amount of RAM available with even the base level laptops these days that may no longer be the case. So, I keep my desktop clean because everything on my computer has a place. If it doesn’t, I delete it. I don’t look at a hard drive with a terabyte of space and think that gives me a license to store everything possible. I select the pictures I want to keep and discard the rest. I do the same with documents. The only thing I’m a little more liberal with is video footage. It …

Stretching

Performing routine stretches at the end of the day has been a goal of mine off an on for the last few years. The fact that doing a split hasn’t necessarily been my goal could be the reason that I’ve been unsuccessful in making it a habit. In other words, the lack of a measurable outcome could be undercutting my level of commitment. But there may be something else. I don’t see stretching as absolutely necessary. I’m sure it’s wrong to think that but the fact that there is debate hasn’t helped. The truth is I shouldn’t care if others find stretching unnecessary. I sprained my knee in my late teens and I know that a concentrated stretch of my hamstrings decreases the tightness I feel around that knee right after a run. Regardless of whether a good stretch is beneficial before and after a run (or any other time), I would like to be more limber for more general physical benefits. Increased flexibility–including the ability to touch my toes–and one day being able to …

Huxley

All writers are inspired–at one point or another–to write. But I’m not at all sure how many of them recall the exact moment when they defintively decided to become a writer. Maybe every writer does. I was in college, sitting in a tan corduroy armchair reading a paperback copy of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. There was an oversized “Devil’s Haircut” poster on the wall behind me and a forest green, low pile carpet under my feet. It was past time for a good vacuuming. It was my second reading of the book; the first had come in high school. I was a fan of it in the tenth grade but by the time I got to college I’d decided I needed to read it again. I proceeded to go from Brave New World to Brave New World Revisited. This led to Island, The Doors of Perception, and Heaven and Hell. But it was the caste system (Alphas, Betas, Deltas, etc.) described in Huxley’s seminal work that gave me my eureka moment. I believed that …

Time

I tend to believe there’s not enough time in a day. I’m not always right about things but, in this case, I’m certain I am. There’s not enough time to pursue all of my interests. I have a full-time job and I write. It doesn’t leave much time for anything else. I’ve made writing a priority because becoming a full-time writer is my main goal. I’ve made that my goal because writing gives me a great deal of satisfaction. Therefore, I make time for it even though I have a full-time job. Figuring out what to give your time to is not always simple. But because time is a finite resource being decisive is important. Once you know what you want–whether it’s a hobby or new career–a few things are required: discipline, organization, and routine. (Some may claim they need a muse but I tend to avoid giving inspiration over to the mystical.) Consider learning to play piano, for a moment. Unless you’re a virtuoso, you’ll need to spend time learning how to read music …