Quotes about writing from Stephen King’s “On Writing”

Stephen King quotes on writing

I read Stephen King’s “On Writing” recently and loved it. It’s full of great quotes about writing. I compiled all the ones that I highlighted while reading below.

The book is half autobiography, half writing advice. I’ve been a fan of Stephen King since I was a kid, so probably had extra appreciation for his story about becoming a writer, but any writer will find it interesting. It’s like the storytelling version of Strunk and White’s “The Elements of Style.”   (more…)

Punctate Inner Choroidopathy, the fun retinal disease that’s killing my vision

Punctate Inner Choroidopathy PDT lesion

I’m 28, and I’ve been going blind since my freshman year of college.

I don’t talk about it often, and I hesitated for a long time before putting it online (medical diagnoses + Internet = privacy risks), but there’s such a lack of information about it that someone had to do it. It’s a rare eye disease called Punctate Inner Choroidopathy (PIC for short) that causes patches of blindness in the retina. It affects near-sighted women starting in their early twenties.

I first noticed it over spring break in 2004, when I was home from college working on a paper in a Word document. I didn’t realize it then, but a white background and black text is the perfect canvas for spotting anything odd with your vision. I noticed a black spot in my left eye that moved wherever I looked.

At first I thought it was a problem with my contact lenses, which I wore for way too many hours in high school and college. Like, days in a row. And this was before high oxygen contacts were on the market. My bad. But the spot kept getting bigger, and it moved with my eye, not with my contact. While at first I couldn’t see one or two letters on the screen, it progressed to blocking out entire words.   (more…)

My rant in the 2002 Conard High School paper about the tardy policy

Photograph of the front entrance to Conard High School in West Hartford, ConnecticutI was organizing some files on an old hard drive tonight when I found an article I wrote for my high school’s paper about the arbitrariness of the tardy policy.

Although the bitchiness and the grammar make me cringe, reading it brought back memories of how idiotic certain high school rules really were. Plus I’m proud that I was rallying against The Man.

So now I present to you–completely unedited–my rant as it appeared in the February 28th, 2002 Conard High School Pow Wow. I have no idea why they let this run.

Oh, and more than a decade later, I’m still chronically late.   (more…)

Launching a data-powered pregnancy app

Screenshot of the Ovia App in the number one spot in the "best new apps" page in the medical categoryIt’s day one of launch for the Ovia Pregnancy app, and it just became the best new app in the Apple App Store’s medical category.

The Ovuline team is literally jumping up and down, screaming, and taking beaming photos. Just a few hours earlier, they broke out mimosas when the app jumped to number five on the free app charts.

That’s the type of success every startup wants. It’s been a year in the making for Ovuline, the Techstars company behind the big data-powered app that uses smart technology to give women ultra-personalized, unique feedback on their pregnancies.

Every student is paired with a partner company at Startup Institute to work on an 8-week project, usually in groups of four with one person from each track (web development, technical marketing, sales, and product and design). I was lucky enough to get Ovuline four weeks ago as they geared up for their launch. With my background in PR and content—and a few consumer tech launches under my belt—it was a mutually beneficial match.

After countless pitches, press release drafts, product review guides, app store optimizations, product demos, and tweets, it was time to unveil the app to the world. And so far, the world seems to love it. The press articles are coming out; the 5-star app store reviews are coming in.

Paris Wallace taking a picture of the all-female Ovuline team

VP of Product Gina Nebesar is stunned. “Oh my god, guys…I can’t believe that happened. I’m actually crying,” she keeps repeating. This app is her baby…pun intended. “I’m so happy right now. Why don’t we have more alcohol?”

Launches are intense and exhausting, but there’s nothing better than seeing the tangible results of your efforts and then freaking out over them with the people in the trenches with you. Even though I’ve only been helping out Ovuline for a few weeks, playing a part in it feels awesome.

This is what startup life is all about.

Heinlein on being a talented generalist

Swiss army knife with many features

Image: Joel Derksen, BigOrangeSlide.com

I recently met Ed McNierney, and in talking about being good at a variety of things, he brought up the quote below. I thought it was a perfect way to describe the startup mentality. Bonus points for sci-fi.

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

– Robert A. Heinlein, in Time Enough for Love

A startup marketer should be able to change an email template, plan a street event, butcher crappy product copy, conn a conference call, write an e-book, balance engineer-speak and English, build a financial forecast, set a KPI, comfort customers, take criticism, give criticism, cooperate, be a self-starter, solve social media gripes, analyze databases, pitch journalists, program a blog layout, cook up campaigns, fight for brand consistency, die after a 4-hour night of sleep. Specialization is for squares.

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