Fail, and keep failing. It means you’re trying.
Max Andrew Dubinsky is the author of the book “We Can’t Go Home Again,” a self-published, critically-acclaimed collection of short fiction following the lives of broken individuals within a lost society desperately seeking redemption and a second chance. He once accidentally wrote and directed a feature-length film, fears sharks in all water situations, and is the man behind Make It MAD, a blog where he publishes weekly essays about seeking God and faith in the streets of our cities rather than in our churches.
In 2011, he got rid of everything he owned and drove across America in search of that faith, relying on only his wits and the kindness of strangers to survive. Along the way, he slept in 50 different beds, visited more than 40 cities, and drank some 4,000 cups of coffee. He also met a girl on the road, fell in love, and married her on cliff in Denver. When he handed her the keys to his car and said, “Welcome home! We’ll have to get rid of some of your shoes; they won’t all fit in the trunk,” they decided to remain stationary in Los Angeles for a few months instead of getting back on the road. Dubinsky then had to make a decision: believe in himself as a writer and become self-employed to provide for his family, or return to managing Planet Starbucks in Beverly Hills where he was useless in high-stress situations involving copious amounts of coffee and math.
What are you working on right now?
Besides trying to figure out how to pay the rent in California each month while still writing full-time, I’ve got two projects I’m working on right now. The first is DislocatedExperience.com. This is a serialized fictional novel released in a blog format, once a week, that can be read and experienced as a written narrative or as a graphic novel. I’m also writing my quarter-life crisis memoir based on a compilation of essays from MakeItMAD.com. I think I’ve compiled enough despair with just the dash of hope to sell a half-decent memoir.
Where did the idea for MakeItMAD.com come from?
Make It MAD resulted from the perfect storm of reading Gary Vaynerchuk’s “Crush It!,” quitting my job, and listening to my sister’s insistence that my emails about being single and living in L.A. were funny enough to be a blog. I decided if I was going to do it, I’d be unconventional since I didn’t expect anyone to read it. I blogged only once a week, and I didn’t listen to a single thing any professionals had to say–including Gary. He just put wind in my sails. I simply started telling true stories and writing short essays about my life. I was getting 50,000 hits per month in less than a year, and I wasn’t even on Twitter or Facebook at the time. The lesson here? The power of story.
What does your typical day look like?
Coffee, writing, praying, emailing, coming up with clever things to say on Twitter, lunch, twenty minutes trying to do my hair and deciding to just wear a hat instead, thinking about writing while wasting time on the Internet, therapy, more coffee, reading, more prayer, and finally some real writing. (My wife signed off on this description being 100% accurate.)
How do you bring ideas to life?
As a writer, I can’t quite explain where the ideas come from. I simply start hitting the keys until someone does something exciting.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
What’s trending on Twitter right now? I’m easily swayed and have no problem conforming. Everything we do, say, or have in 2012 appears to be a trend. Facebook, Instagram, coffee, Zooey Deschanel, blogging, zombies, vampires, sequels. Is Bigfoot a trend? The idea of Bigfoot really excites me.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
The worst job I ever had was also the best job I ever had: working in a meat-packing plant. What did I learn from it? Don’t eat sausage.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Skip college and hit the road instead.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Fail, and keep failing. It means you’re trying.
What is one problem you encountered as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
See above. The constant failure and rejection. Everyone thinks they know the secret and have the answers to being a self-employed artist or brand. I listened to everyone, and everyone has conflicting directions. The directions I’d been given were all to the same location, but they came from so many different sources. They actually got me lost. I overcame this problem by trying and failing again and again until I found what worked for me.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Coffee with caffeine and nicotine. Ciga-Lattes. Second-hand smoke problem = solved.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
Homelessness. I will change it by offering giant piles of money, encouragement, my home, my shower and my fridge to anyone I encounter sleeping on the sidewalk. I’m halfway there. All I need is the giant-piles-of-money part.
Tell us a secret.
I didn’t enjoy “The Hunger Games.”
What are your favorite online tools or resources, and what do you love about them?
1. Instagram: My wife and I go somewhere new every weekend. We bond by running around and taking hipster pictures of trees and sunsets and stuff in new places. It’s great to have an additional creative outlet you never have to take too seriously.
2. Youtube/Vimeo: I do a lot of camera work and editing. I’ve made a few spoken-word videos out of my essays from Make It MAD. There are just as many people out there who only watch videos as there are who only read blogs. YouTube gives me access to people who would otherwise never know I exist.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
@Textinstagram: For hilarity’s sake.
@GoodWomenProj: No one else out there is doing what these women are doing for other women.
@NicksEdwards: He is one of the most original, encouraging and genuine people on the planet. Recently, he dropped everything and moved to Taiwan. That story alone is worth following.
Who is your hero?
What advice do you have for anyone (particularly high school and college students) looking to pursue writing as a career?
I say the world doesn’t have enough accountants and taxi drivers. Writers write because they were born to bleed to death while pouring their hearts out upon the page. As the dearest Maya Angelou said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Writers often don’t write because they want to (that’s just a generous side effect); they write because they cannot not write. Non-creatives, or civilians, don’t understand that. And they never will. If you’re still in high school or college, don’t let anyone tell you not to be a writer, and don’t wait for anyone to tell you that you’ve made it. Start a blog, get on Twitter, tell a story, enter literary contests and submit to magazines, build a following, and self-publish a book if the publishers don’t find you first.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I Google search sea monsters, Sasquatch and Area 51 with my wife.