Arash Afshar

Photographer, Host of Burner Podcast and Founder of Justified Hype

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Writer Mike Sager is one of the most interesting men in the world.

I met Mike years ago when his son was enrolled in a digital media summer program, for which I was the Program Director. We had a phone chat about if the program was right or not for his son and concluded together that it was the latter. We hit it off and I gained a new friend and mentor who’s resume included writing for Esquire, GQ and The Washington Post. Over the years, I’ve interviewed Mike a couple of times for podcasts and had the pleasure of getting much needed feedback from him on my various creative forks in the road.

Mike is that guy you meet at a party that never runs out of fascinating stories about his many adventures. Was he already that guy and that’s why he gravitated towards writing or did a life of writing make him that guy? I’ve pondered this often. One of my favorite stories of his was one he conveyed to my creative partner and I during a podcast recording sesh. Mike had accepted an assignment to track down the notoriously media-avoidant Marlon Brando, whom, if memory serves correctly, was living off the grid and possibly up on a mountain. So here was Mike, making his way up a freaking mountain.

He described the experience in this manner: For most of the climb, you’re not really aware of where you are. You’re carefully watching where you step and mostly looking down at your feet. Then, every once in a while, you stop and look up and you take in this magnificent vista. The mountains, the sun setting, the majesty of nature in all her glory. And then you get back to your ascension, looking back down at your feet. 

This is basically the creative journey, Mike elaborated. We’re mostly doing the day-to-day stuff. Responding to emails, writing, shooting, whatever project it is that we’re working on at the moment. And then, every once in a while, we stop and look back at how far we’ve come.

That’s what I’ve found the experience of writing one’s biography is.

It’s helpful for artists and professionals to have these clear and concise short bios ready to send out at a moment’s notice for when we’re being pitched for a gig or being recognized by some publication. Having a bio ready is imperative because the easier we make life for the people who want to give us money the more likely they are to give us money and connect us to others who would like to give us money.

Many of us treat writing our bio as this administrative errand that needs to be checked off the list. Because that list never seems to get done. But I’ve found that when we treat it as a lovely spiritual exercise, it can flow and be beneficial in a very personal way. I’ve spent the past month in New York City, observing the film industry and all the artists here that are seemingly so far ahead of me in their careers. Working on my short bio over the last couple of days has been a much needed pause to look back. The experience has been akin to Mike’s description of stopping for a minute and taking in this magnificent vista, the mountains, the sun setting and the majesty of nature in all her glory.

I could’ve thrown something together really fast so I could get to the next task. But what a lovely experience it has been to truly lose myself in it for a couple of days. We’ve come a long way, baby.

My bio, in it’s current draft, can be seen here.

The photo featured in this post is of internationally recognized artist Risk, at work on his massive mural at Quartyard in San Diego. More about Risk here.

You can order Hunting Marlon Brando here. (Spoiler alert: he was not atop this particular mountain.)

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