5 Follow-ups : Colin Wright : Be Your Own Role Model [Ep. 032]

Colin Wright 5 Follow-ups

Episode 032 : Colin Wright, founder of the blog Exile Lifestyle, author of a number of books, and co-founder of independent publisher Asymmetrical.

1. You mentioned you used to be an introvert (and wrote a book about it), what’s your perspective on how to transform into an extrovert?

I don’t think it’s so much about transforming as adapting. It’s being able to function in a world made up primarily of extroverts, and one that caters to them more than introverts.

And really all it takes is figuring out how to makes your strengths serve you in the extroverted world. For me, that meant taking all the things I think and read about endlessly and making them palatable for others. Being able to talk about all the things that I’m agog over, and my work and the other things I’m passionate about. Being able to make eye contact and dress decently and things like that are easy to learn, but being able to make your interests interesting to others is a key component to not just being able to function outside in the social world, but flourish.

2. Who are some authors/books that inspire you as a writer?

I love books like Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond. The sheer amount of work that goes into something like that is remarkable to me, and being able to make it readable and interesting must take an insane amount of talent.

I dig a lot of Harry Turtledove’s work, particularly the alternate history stuff (Guns of the South was the first one I read, I think, way back in the day). ‘What could have been’ fascinates me.

My colleagues at Asymmetrical, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, really inspire me, because they’re talented as hell and have very different styles (and even approaches to publishing) than me. Our first two authors — Shawn Mihalik and Chase Night — are also really ridiculously talented with diverse styles. I love reading these guys’ work.

Although I don’t agree with a lot of the philosophy behind it, Atlas Shrugged remains one of my favorite books from a storyline perspective. There’s something about the almost mythological scale of the characters and black-and-white idealism that gets me motivated after giving it a read through.

3. You recently released your 2nd fiction book, Real Powers: Part Two, what’s it about/how do you feel about how it came out?

The series I’m writing — Real Powers — takes place 15 years from now, and is essentially an extrapolation of what’s going on now in science, technology, media, society, politics, and myriad other things I keep tabs on and think about overmuch. It’s told through the eyes of six different characters, and each sees a different part of the big pictures that’s unfolding.

The overarching storyline is that the economy is collapsing, though in a more final way than it ever has before. There’s a hacker collective — kind of a super-charged, manifesto-driven group called Opus — that has become in some ways as powerful as a government, and to set it all off, a traveling blogger (I may have derived some inspiration for his character from my own lifestyle) named Mason discovers a device of unknown origin, function, or purpose, which sets of a chain-reaction of events around the world.

I’m falling in love with the characters that drive the storyline, and the world they live in. It’s kind of dangerous, in a way — I have to make sure I don’t have anything else too important to do in the month or so it takes me to write the first draft — because I get kind of pulled in to what I’m writing, and find it hard to focus on other things. Social interactions become very forced and any other project I’m working on gets back-burnered. I suppose that’s a good sign, that kind of focus, but it makes the process a lot more unwieldy than my process for writing other kinds of books.

I’m thrilled about how the first two books came out, and the third will be even better than the first two, if current trends continue. I’ve also been thrilled about how well they’ve been selling — really puts a smile on my face when something I love to do is appreciated by others!

4. What are some projects projects in the works at Asymmetrical that you’re especially excited about?

Oh there are so many, I barely know where to begin!

There’s one we just launched called Chapbook, which will be a series of books with short work from the various artists we’re working with in a given publishing cycle. It turned out really, really well, and the response from readers has been phenomenal.

We’ve got a round of work coming out from both Shawn Mihalik and Chase Night, and the pieces that are completed or nearing completion are just…it’s the kind of work you read and think, “I wish I could write like this.” To be able to publish this kind of work — to be able to get it out to a wider audience — is really a privilege.

There are some classes we’re working on to, based on the hugely successful classes Joshua Fields Millburn has been teaching on writing. The first one I’m going to be teaching is on the fundamentals of design, with a focus on what people need to know for designing for publishing (especially book covers). It will be a hugely different format than I’m accustomed to working in, but I love the interactivity of it, and look forward to seeing how it does.

5. Who are your role models and why?

You know, I don’t really do role models. Which sounds a little weird, I know, but I find it’s best to pick and choose philosophies and lifestyle choices from various people and sew them together into your own thing. Otherwise you try to be the next Richard Branson or Seth Godin or whatever, and that’s just a path to failure. There’s already a Branson. There’s already a Godin. Trying to be them will just disappoint you, and it doesn’t really benefit anyone to have doubles of interesting people. Being your own interesting person — and therefore, you might say, your own role model — is something worth aspiring to instead.


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