About

Howdy,

My name is Pete, and I write stuff. That’s most of what I do, anyway. There’s a podcast going on here, some book reviews, and the occasional project that makes no goddamn sense whatsoever.

 

Right now, the things I’m putting most of my energy into online are columns  for Litreactor. Offline, I’m editing a long project called Pete’s Unsent Love Letters, am working on a novel-length piece, and in whatever time is left, I like to write goofy stuff here and make mini books to sell on the Kindle store.

If you want to know more personal stuff, there’s plenty around here. Poke around.

If you’re looking to hire someone to write a column or submit something:

Great! I love writing, and I love writing for new and interesting outlets. Roll on over to my writing page to see some samples. Just as a word of whatever, I don’t make my living as a writer, which has its good and bad sides. The good side, for me, is that I can be choosy about what I want to do. Sometimes an outlet or an opportunity just isn’t a great fit for me, and other times I’ve got too much stuff on my plate to take on anything else.

For the most part, I don’t write a lot for free. I mean, I DO that, just not for other people or web sites other than my own. I don’t want to put out quick, low-quality work, and I don’t think you want that for your site anyway. But I do work VERY cheap, so make me an offer. I’ve done pieces for $10, and I treat them with the same respect I do all my work.

I also have to insist that the rights to my work belong to me, ultimately. I won’t republish somewhere else at the same time or even within a close interval, but I only do one-time rights stuff, unless, again, we’re talking about something where the pay or the name is so good that I just can’t turn it down.

Why Do You Do This…Stuff?

That’s a great question. I don’t know if I can answer that.

I can tell you where most of it started.

I started blogging because I wanted to put funny things out there. I saw a lot of blogs that were very personal, but not as many that seemed to be about entertaining other people. This was in maybe 2003 or so.

The podcasting side came because it’d always been a dream of mine to do talk radio. I loved listening to talk radio, and I thought it was something I might be able to do. When I found myself with a little chunk of money and some free time, I invested in some equipment, which I still use today.

But there’s a little more to it. When you start getting a little older, you find that you have to make time to hang out with your friends. I thought podcasting would be a good way to do that. And it was for a while. Now I rarely have guests because people get busy. They have families, jobs that require them to be sober. You know, lives.

As for the more serious writing, I’ve always written stuff, but I got more serious about it in college. I took a couple classes, and there were a couple teachers who encouraged me, helped me out and told me to go read some stuff. I’ve always liked writing because it requires very little other than some inexpensive tools and time, and I’ve always liked writing things down and then revising them to better say what I want to say.

Do You Ever Worry That Your Extracurriculars Will Affect Your Job Or Hire-Ability?

Of course. I’d be stupid not to. It’s almost 2020, and I can’t imagine a lot of job applicants don’t receive at least a light googling.

However, this stuff is important to me. Even when the stuff itself isn’t important.

Also, I don’t make a big stink about all of this in the workplace. No stink, in fact. I don’t expect my workplace to endorse what I do outside of work, and I don’t expect work to condemn what I do outside of work. It’s just that, outside of work. There’s work and there’s life, and this is my life. Sad to say, but there you go.

Why Are All Your Tweets And Stuff Private?

Eh, I kinda think social media is bunk. I privatized everything because I got a boatload of shit about a column I wrote, and I only intended to leave it private for a while. After privatizing it, I realized that I didn’t really miss it. It’s a time suck. And I’m not such a personality that I need social media to interact with fans. Most people who read/listen are people I know in real life. I’m pretty accessible, and I’d waste time getting angry at my social media feeds when I should have been doing something at least mildly productive. I’m not saying no one should use social media, but it didn’t really do a lot for me.

I don’t advise everyone to live life this way, but when I was on a lot of social media, I would either read things that confirmed my worldviews and nod, or read things that didn’t and get all outraged. I rarely found myself walking away from an article online having changed my mind on something important. The results were a lot of emotional work getting done in my head with no actual work of any kind getting done.

You Think You’re REAL Funny, Don’t You?

Eh. I give myself a 7 out of 10.

If You’re Offended By Something You Read Or Heard Here

I’m sorry. Really. I don’t make things with the idea of hurting someone. That’s not my goal.

That said, I would also say that making things that everyone will like and are totally inoffensive is also not my goal.

I have a very strong belief while working, which is you have to kick people out of your head. Great books would not get written if the authors felt the presence of their parents standing behind them. Funny jokes would be fewer and further between if every comedian had the ghosts of people who might be offended standing in the room.

People aren’t wrong for feeling offended. Just because I wouldn’t say something to my mom that I might say in a short story doesn’t mean that she’s a bad person, or incorrect, or stifling. By that same token, it doesn’t mean that something I wouldn’t say to my mother is something that shouldn’t be said. Or can’t. My mother isn’t the right gauge by which I should decide what I make. Neither is your mother. Neither are you.

Comedy

It’s especially hard with comedy. What I find funny, someone else will find intensely unfunny.

We spend a lot of time arguing about whether or not something is funny enough to “earn” being offensive, and I think that’s a silly argument. That’s taking an opinion (whether or not something is funny) and shaving it down to an even finer matter of taste (HOW funny is something?).

We argue a lot about whether intent matters, and that’s also a ridiculous argument. If I spin around on a dance floor and punch someone on accident (which I have TOTALLY done), it’s not the same as standing in the middle of the dance floor, motionless, and then just punching someone because I want to punch someone.

When I punch someone on a dance floor, I feel bad, I apologize, and I buy the person a drink. The punch doesn’t vanish. And in the future, I can watch myself a little better. But every once in a while, someone on the dance floor is getting punched. I’ve been on a dance floor like 10 times in my entire life, and believe me, if people are properly enthusiastic, someone is ALWAYS getting punched.

All that said, I do think it’s comedy’s job to say things that aren’t always acceptable. Or, perhaps not comedy’s job, but one of the privileges of comedy. One of the things comedy can do that other forms cannot.

Like I said, you’re not wrong to be offended. But rather than talking about the larger issue of comedy and what have you, I’m more inclined to apologize, buy you a drink, and then both of us can keep flailing around on the dance floor.

Ghosts Of The Offensive Past

Sometimes I’ll make a choice to say something or write something that could hurt someone. And sometimes, I’ll make a choice one day that I wouldn’t make the next.

The thing is, people change, and there’s something approaching 10 years of my personal history on this site.

A sad thing about the internet is that I think it’s made it really difficult for people to change their minds. When Roger Ebert was in newspapers and on TV, he could hate something like animated movies, and then turn around. There wasn’t this whole archive at the fingertips of every person that could then be thrown back in his face.

The archiving of everything makes a change of heart into a suspicious thing, something that makes a reader say, “Are you lying now or were you lying before?”

But I can be telling the truth in the past and now. My truth can change. And it almost certainly will.

I can write the word faggot in a post from 2007, and 10 years later I can say that I wouldn’t make that decision. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t. My opinion has changed. It’s true that I did it then, and it’s also true that I wouldn’t do it now.

I could also take down the post. And I might.

I know how it looks. How you could search the site for offensive terms, bring up those posts, and they look the same as a post created today. It takes a lot to put it into your mind that things have changed and I’ve changed. That although this material still exists, it expresses only whatever I thought at that time and whoever I was at that time.

Frankly, I’m not perfect, and I’m becoming a different person most of the time, or trying to. I could choose to wipe the past and make it seem like I’ve always been the person I’m working towards being. But I don’t choose to present myself that way. I choose to present myself as someone who has changed, and for whom change wasn’t always easy. As someone who continues to change. I don’t think I’m doing anyone any favors by pretending that I’m perfect and have always been perfect. It’s my belief that presenting such a sanitized, unscarred version of the truth is not only disingenuous, but alienating.

You’re welcome to pretend that you’ve never done or said anything offensive, or that when you did it was “totally different.” You can pretend that you’ve never overlooked something offensive for your own benefit. And that’s fine. That’s your choice, this is mine.

Comedy, writing, podcasting for humor, these are all things that are not easy to do well, which means I’ll do them really badly sometimes. What I’m trying to do, I don’t have a lot of help. So there are definitely times I will fuck up. It’s a philosophy of mine that if I’m not fucking something up, then I’m probably not doing something very difficult, and I’m pretty sure to get bored. And so are you. If I’m not fucking up, then I’m probably making something that’s not novel or original, and there’s almost certainly someone doing it much better.

What I’m asking for is patience and an understanding that the past and the present are different. Times have changed a lot, and with the overall changes in society, Helpful Snowman stuff changes as well. Perhaps not as quickly or efficiently as other outlets, but we try to get there eventually.

 

How Do We Move On?

I’d recommend reading Jon Ronson’s book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. And if you feel hurt, I’d ask that you recommend a book to me.

A thought-out book is a lot more likely to change my mind. The depth of experience from a fully-formed work makes it easier for me to get into the head of the person I’ve hurt. It makes more sense to me.