The Sandoval Signpost (Web edition) is pleased
as punch (diet punch that is) to bring you the humor
and insightful human observations of Daniel Will Harris,
author of My
Wife and Times. —Ed].
First you Panic
By Daniel Will Harris
Every time I start to design a new project I secretly fear
I've forgotten how. So when I started to design http://www.schmoozeletter.com
I decided I would write down my steps along the way:
STEP 1: PANIC. This is always my first step. My mind races.
I start to wonder if it isn't time to find a new line of work—I
try to think of new careers for myself, which proves a pleasant
This time I came up with stunning new e-commerce concept:
Dryer Lint of the Stars. Even the famous have dryer lint—but
unlike you and me they also have fans who will pay top dollar
for it. I know I would pay for Meg Ryan's. According to casual
calculations made while actively avoiding work on the site,
I figured that just one of her bulky sweaters would yield
approximately one framed portrait in lint; a half a dozen
hand-made lint-paper note cards; and 12 lint-puff key chains
sealed for posterity in non-yellowing acrylic.
If you're thinking, "He has finally cracked," then
you are so very wrong. If I was cracking would I think you'd
think that? OK, maybe, but I have it on good authority (my
wife's) that I haven't cracked, I just have occasional difficulty
with the concept of reality.
Now, why would stars give up their precious lint? Cash, and
lots of it! And perhaps the hope that some fan also just happens
to be a geneticist who can clone them, extending their career.
If they want top dollar, they can even contribute belly button
See, I've thought this all out quite thoroughly and already
have my first sale of Marisa Tomei's lint. My friend Ernest
has offered to pay top dollar and now all I have to do is
locate Marisa's laundry. My friend Karen has said she'll notarize
it to prove that it's legit, and I think I can hire my wife,
the unofficial "queen of eBay" to handle auction.
So I'm all set! Well, I am as soon as I meet Marisa. So if
you know her, tell her I need to talk to her or do her laundry,
STEP 2: COME BACK TO REALITY. I rarely like this part, unless
I imagine that I will win the lottery. But that doesn't really
count as reality, so this should give you a clue as to my
state of mind.
STEP 3: IGNORE THE ADVICE I GIVE TO OTHERS: I do this to
save time. Then, days later, when I realize that I haven't
done much else other than look at watches on eBay and am perilously
close to actually buying a non-working "Radium Swatch"
that features an actual x-ray of Madame Curie on it, I come
to the conclusion that I've wasted a lot of time.
STEP 4: DO WHAT I TELL OTHER PEOPLE TO DO. I force myself
to answer the same hard, important questions that I force
everyone else to answer (see the questionnaire below). This
part can actually be fun and exciting, but concentrating hard
on anything requires a lot more physical effort than most
people give it credit for, and therefore requires adequate
STEP 5: RECONSIDER LINT. I look at what I've done and think
it's either embarrassingly bad or outright terrible and imagine
that a blindfolded child with the hiccups and an Etch-a-Sketch
driving over rocks in a Jeep without shocks could do better.
STEP 5: SNAP OUT OF IT. This is often accomplished by throwing
out what I've done and starting from scratch.
STEP 6: FIND A VISUAL METAPHOR. It helps to be hit by a staggering
bolt of inspiration at this point. Unfortunately, your chances
of this are just slightly higher than that of being hit by
a lightning-fast Ford Pinto.
Since inspiration eluded me, I had to actually be logical
and realize that since I already had a personal caricature/logo
I've used since my first site opened in 1995 , I could use
that. The difference this time was that since the SchmoozeLetter
can jump around from seemingly random points until it finally
makes a picture, the logo could reflect this with a kind of
STEP 7: IGNORE IT FOR A WHILE. The only way to clearly see
something you've created is to put it away for a few days.
Then I glance at it, quickly, pretending it was designed by
a total stranger. If my first impression is, "I'm glad
I didn't design this piece of..." then I know that something
went horribly wrong along the way. If, however, I feel jealous
of myself, I'm probably on the right track, creatively if
STEP 9: SHOW IT TO PEOPLE YOU TRUST but who won't be hurt
if you totally ignore their advice. Apparently, my wife trusts
me a lot.
STEP 10: ALWAYS HAVE A STEP TEN.