Newsletter: The Email Debt Forgiveness Day Newsletter

Email Debt Forgiveness Day (April 30th) is a holiday made for this newsletter. We all know that this newsletter has been as sporadic as a Colorado Rockies’ winning streak.

Events that happen with more regularity than this newsletter: Taylor Swift music videos, superhero movies, Tom Brady suspensions and me changing apartments.

Today, that doesn’t matter, because it’s EMAIL DEBT FORGIVENESS DAY.

All the details are here.

And if you’re not listening to the podcast, Reply All, PJ and Alex are the friends you always wished you had in half-hour increments. They tell interesting stories about the internet and work for Gimlet media, my dream company.

I even get a merit badge for this… No joke, listen to the episode, which includes a great love story and some heartbreaking emails.

Term 2

The highlights of the term have existed outside of my main work, video editing and copywriting. I’ve enjoyed conversations and brainstorming sessions with Victor, Eli, Aaron and the Ei team about the direction of different aspects of the organization. It’s also been great to be involved in interviews for next year’s Ei class.

Here’s my latest post about my year.

I’m still working out third term, but it’s hard to believe that I’m two-thirds of the way through this year.

The DK Chronicle

Since Leap Day, I have written a lot. I have posted on my website every weekday since the start of a project called DK Chronicle. The inspiration came from the Leap Kit and it’s pushed me to share personal pieces that make me uncomfortable.

The project will end on Friday, May 6th with my 50th post. I will have a final project to share at some point. This is not the end of me sharing my work, but the beginning. This is an area where I’m in my element and want to continue to create projects that interest me. I hope that my work will increase in scope and influence.

 Thanks for all of your support!

Where’s the Book and Did You Really Write One?

Dear Friend,

Should all acquaintance be forgot, allow me to reintroduce myself in the New Year. I am Derek Kessinger. I hope your holidays were wonderful. This is my latest newsletter as I continue my year as an Experience Institute student.

What do you do when your plans lay discarded on the New York City sidewalks like crumbled umbrellas? Here’s a piece on my first term in NYC:

Term 1: The Write Umbrella

Have you ever tried to create something, but struggled with your process? We all work in different ways, but I think I have a little insight. So let me address the question… I leveraged my work to bolster my own creative habits. First, I told people that I was going to write 50,000 words. After sharing my goal, I had to either write, or risk disappointing my confidants. I played against my own need to please people.

I never found an easy, secret writing formula. Paragraphs did not organically sprout after I planted the seeds of my first few words. In fact, the last few days of my project were the most difficult. Despite frustrating moments, I’m glad I completed a challenging project without shortcuts.

Throughout the month, I tried to simplify my process for the most consistent results. My first task each morning was to sit down with a cup of coffee and write 2,000 words. The day was a success as long as I sat down and avoided distractions, even if I struggled to write. Just remember, the first draft is not the final edit.

I struggled through days of feeling isolated and lonely. These feelings sometimes endured despite a trip to a place full of people, such as Times’ Square. In the trenches of writing, I felt attacked by my own thoughts of ineptitude and doubt. In hindsight, I am able to see my growth through the month. I now know I have better days when I write in the morning.

Just like most things in life, we become what we spend our time doing. I became a better writer by writing. It can still be a struggle. Some days the writing process feels like this Avett Brothers song:

Ten thousand words swarm around my head
Ten million more in books written beneath my bed.
I wrote or read them all when searchin’ in the swarms
Still can’t find out how to hold my hands.

And I know you need me in the next room over,
But I am stuck in here all paralyzed.
For months I got myself in ruts,
Too much time spent in mirrors framed in yellow walls.

The book, after its first draft, is a jumble of images and characters, but I can share a few themes:
  • Ulysses S. Grant and Frederick Douglas discuss modern day New York’s sovereignty.
  • The main character tries to find his footing in the city before meeting a Central Park tree sprite named Johanna.
  • A Coney Island circus boss leads an army of mischievous men to create chaos in New York.

My first goal was to write the book. Now, the editing process is underway. I’m now exploring pieces of this novel’s world that I glossed over upon first telling.

Newsletter: I Brought Stephen Colbert to This Update

Hello again,

Sorry it’s been so long since the first newsletter! Thank you for your support.

This newsletter is all about you and Stephen Colbert.

In my first newsletter, I was deciding on a new course of action for my term. I decided to focus on a personal project and spent November in New York City with the goal of writing 50,000 words by the end of the month. Inspired by theNaNoWriMo project, I wrote a 41,000-word novel and a few essays. I’ll have more on this journey in future newsletters.

In the last newsletter, I linked to the wrong blog post. Please read the real version of I Learned How to Pick Better Experiences So You Don’t Have To.

Now, let’s talk about this newsletter with a segment I like to call…

Stephen Colbert is the master of word play. If you missed his podcast this summer, or his wordplay on camera, Colbert’s personal title for his CBS late night talk show is:

The Late Show With, Starring: Stephen Colbert.

While the inclusion of “with” and “starring” is obviously a joke, I think there’s a second motive.

Colbert wants to perform a show that resonates with his audience. More than any of his contemporaries, Colbert is willing to become the joke for laughs. The real title of the show should be, “The Late Show, With Audience, Starring: Stephen Colbert.”

That’s how I am approaching this newsletter. I want to share thoughts about my year that are interesting to you, my newsletter reader. This year is a grand experiment. I hope that pieces of what I learn will benefit you and even lead to a couple of laughs.

Please, if you have questions/comments/observations, let me know!

On next week’s segment of Word Play With Stephen Colbert, I look at how the word play in Stephen’s book, I Am America (And So Can You!), further polarized America. 


Newsletter: From Denver to Chicago to New York and Now What?

Live from New York…

Friends, Romans, Coloradans, lend me your ears:

Welcome to my first newsletter. Why am I writing a newsletter in 2015? Apparently, newsletters are still very popular. Social media hasn’t killed the email and people spend a lot of time reading emails (at work). There’s a Bernie Sanders joke here somewhere, but Larry David beat me to it.

Now, you may think I am going to start spamming your mailbox with emails, but since it’s taken me almost two months to write this first one, I think you’ll be okay.

I want to take you back to August 22, when I first tried to compose this newsletter on a flight to Chicago. I ended up spending the whole flight writing what turned into my first Blog Post: In All Seriousness, the reason I joined Experience Institute.  Then, I spent the next couple of days worrying about what Experience Institute would be like before it began.

Luckily, I met a lot of great people, especially my classmates, and learned a few things about myself. The biggest leap I made came courtesy of Eric Staples, who did a workshop on personal motivation. Eric has a system of archetypes that allowed me to realize that we all make decisions based on our feelings. In Eric’s words, I’m a heart person. I found out that my goal in the world is to be a caregiver to others. I want to achieve this by being a magician.  A magician, from Eric’s presentation, “creates transformation; changes how we see the world, presents new realities; delights with imagination and cleverness.”

Eric’s talk led me to my goal for the year. I want to create places of inspiration, humor and wonder through storytelling.

With this new understanding, I moved again, this time to New York City for an apprenticeship. For ten days, I made the commute from my apartment near Columbia in a nice part of Harlem to an apprenticeship in Soho with the hope of telling stories. Unfortunately, the apprenticeship wasn’t what I had hoped for and I wasn’t the best fit for the position. To put it simply, it was a mutual breakup.

My second blog was all about the lessons I learned from the apprenticeship.

So, now I’m in New York, listening to a song written in a Chelsea hotel by Bob Dylan “Vision’s of Johanna,” planning my next moves. Now that we’re all caught up, I’ll try and figure out what I’m doing with this newsletter before next time.

Thank you for your support and time,

Derek Kessinger