Elite Blogger: Rendezvous With David Szondy

Another interesting blog and the multi-talented face behind it aptly fit well onto my Eliteblogger series. The tagline of his blog reads I think I think, therefore, I think I think I am, I think, making us think for a while if it is an extension of Desecrates philosophy but on inquiry David Szondy, founder, DavidSzondyEphemeral discloses that it can be seen as his take on the thought that there’s some thinking going on here, about which he no idea. He says: I’m of the opinion that I probably exist or, at least, I think I might, but I’m not going to commit myself.

Szondy is a Washington-based freelance writer and webmaster for davidszondy.com, home of Tales of Future Past. In the past, David was engaged with chief corporations i.e. Boeing and Microsoft and is also the author of numerous plays; the most lately produced being an adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s The Reluctant Dragon in Seattle and is a retired archaeologist.

Delve into the straight responses coming from David’s end:

Introduce yourself to my readers and take us to your typical day at work.
Hello, I’m David Szondy, the founder and webmaster of the blog Ephemeral Isle and its sister site, Tales of Future Past. I am a former archaeologist and university lecturer based outside of Seattle, WA where I now make a living as a freelance writer/editor.

Like most writers, I’m afraid that my work is less interesting to hear about than to read the final products of, as it generally involves many hours of scribbling, staring into space, glowering at a screen and coming up with an excuse to make another pot of tea. My work days tend to veer wildly between the structured and chaotic. When I have a client that needs me to travel, I can be anywhere and doing most anything.

When I work from my home office, my routine is basically to start the day by taking care of my email, scanning the news feeds and alerts for anything that might be of interest for Ephemeral Isle, and sorting out any future projects that are on the horizon. If it’s a a good news day full of interesting items I usually have the blog done inside of two hours. Otherwise, I put my notes aside to work on later while I concentrate on other writing projects and making sure that my two incredibly insecure dogs get enough attention.

David SzondyYour blog davidszondy.com is known to be the home of Tales of Future Past. Can you elaborate Future Past for us? What is the focus of your blog?

Future Past is my word for how we used to look at the future. Other people have called this retro future or paleo-future, but I’m a bit more specific in my definition. Future Past is that era (give or take a decade) between about 1908, when Hugo Gernsback publish Modern Electrics, the first popular technology magazine, and 1964, when the New York World’s Fair took place and the Space Age was at it’s height. This was a time when people were making predictions about the future (They did is before and we still do that today), but very predictions that, taken as a whole, were very consistent and foresaw the 21st century as one of a very small number of alternatives usually ones that involved flying cars, jet packs, food pills and robots as props.

It’s a fascinating field because so many of these predictions were treated as virtual blueprints for a future world where an article on, for example, a new kind of airplane wing would be accompanied by a detailed drawing of a giant aircraft using that wing that pointed out where the staterooms and loading ramps would be. Or, as in the case of the ’64 World’s Fair, you had mock up displays of future technologies that looked as if the designers were just waiting for someone to come along and deal with the tiresome detail of making that thing actually work. You don’t get that sort of confidence these days.

Tell us about your experience while writing numerous plays? Do you count yourself as a born author or you have developed this skill during the course of time?
Playwriting is one of the most rewarding and frustrating types of writing. A play allows a writer a lot of scope to express ideas yet, because it’s so much a spoken medium, it forces the writer to really learn how to handle dialogue and pacing. I’ve been very fortunate in my playwriting to not only see my works produced and even win the odd award, but also to collaborate with some very talented people, such as my wife Lela Szondy, with whom I co-adapted The Reluctant Dragon for the stage and Amy Walton, who worked with me on the award-winning Circling the Drain before heading off to Hollywood to pursue a film acting career. It’s also a very heartbreaking job because plays take an incredible amount of work, often over years of writing and rewriting, and with the hard times that live theatre has gone through in recent years one has to stand by and see a lot of hard work by a lot of good people go by the way when a project is abandoned.

You seem to have a deep relation with pen. When did you sense an inclination towards writing?

I got into writing at a very young age when my boyhood daydreams started getting more elaborate and episodic until I was putting together actual stories. Then I noticed that I was getting irritated by a lot of things I read or saw on television and came to the conclusion that the rubbish I came up with was better than their rubbish and I started putting it down on paper. Fortunately, very little of this juvenilia got into print, so we’re all pretty lucky.

Which all projects you are working upon currently?
I’m still working on Tales of Future Past, which has many more pages still to be added and I’m hoping to adapt into one or a series of books in the near future. I’m also have a couple of other plays in the works, one of which is a comedy about the Normandy Invasion, there’s a panto, an adaption of E. M. Forster’s The Machine Stops, an independent documentary project on science fiction and technology, and I’m involved in a couple of projects in Hollywood and London that are still in the planning stages.

Your blog Ephemeral Isle seems to be driven by your thinking and imagination. What remains the nature of posts/writings that reside here?
The format of Ephemeral Isle is pretty much my reaction to modern life; specifically, those news items, gadgets, bits of popular culture or even things that happen to me that cause me to go bloody hell! or words to that effect. Having said that, the key to a successful blog is consistency, so I then take items that catch my attention and sort them out until those that remain fit into the major themes of the EI, such as the erosion of civil liberties in Britain, remarkable new scientific or technological advances, cool new gadgets, the threat of Islamic extremism, the absurdity of modern life, and how progress often deserves to be met with a goggle-eyed stare rather than unqualified applause.

How different is its tagline I think I think, therefore, I think I think I am, I think from what Descartes said: I THINK, THEREFORE I AM’?
Descartes was way too cocky when he said that and I hope someone told him so. My take on it is that there’s some thinking going on here, on whose part I’ve no idea, so I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I’m of the opinion that I probably exist or, at least, I think I might, but I’m not going to commit myself.

Ephemeral literally means short-lived. What made you add a suffix called Ephemeral?
I got the name from James Lileks, who has or had a section of his remarkable website called Flotsam Cove, which he used to toss out ideas that he hadn’t determined were worth keeping. At the same time, Ephemeral Isle was a phrase that had popped into my head that I thought amusing and since my blog was a place where I made my transient observations and rants about modern life, it seemed that Ephemeral Isle fit the nature of the beast quite nicely.

Tell us about your association with corporations like Boeing and Microsoft.
I’ve had them as clients on and off over the years and because they’re such huge companies the nature of projects can very greatly, but I generally find that I’m less interested working for corporations on anything put a consultant basis because they tend to get rather set in their ways.

How many radio plays have you done? How do you find your stay being engaged with radio industry? Which radio plays of yours you like the most?
How many have I done? Not as many as I’d like. Radio is probably the most exciting medium there is for a writer because every single second of a radio play has to be filled with sound and words, so you can’t get away with writing they fight or a badger falls from the balcony and hope that the director sorts it out later. You’re the one who has to make it work by putting the right words in the character’s mouths. It’s also interesting because it’s so different depending on where you are. Britain, for example, has a thriving radio industry with plenty of scope for new dramas, comedies and documentaries while in the States it’s much rarer because the market is dominated by music, sports and talk. On the other hand, the Internet has brought us the podcast, so anyone with a modest budget can set up their own Mercury Theatre On The Air if they like, which is incredible when you think about it. As to my favourite play, I’d say Phone Call of Cthulhu, which is about a collision between talk radio and H. P. Lovecraft.

How you would like to be known as?
Free lancer

I think I’d like to be known best as a writer because it’s what I always wanted to do first and I feel that it encompasses all the others.

Quick bites:
Hours you invest digging net: I use the Net so much in my work that if it weren’t for my family I’d probably never leave my desk.

Biggest blogging mistake you did: Not having comments on the site from day one. Visitor feedback is absolutely vital.

One hidden truth: To be a real success at blogging you’ve go to feed the dragon every single day. That means being willing to prostitute your private life and embarrass your loved ones by resorting to personal anecdotes when you run out of material.

If asked to post only on one blog (besides DavidZondy.com), which one would that be? That’s a good question. Blogs are often such personal things that I’d feel like I was poaching if I posted on someone else’s. I’ll say eggbaconchipsandbeans because I like breakfast a lot.

Advice you would have given yourself five years ago? Listen to your wife.

If not a writer, then Threadbare and penniless. Hang on, that’s me now.

Life without Internet: Horrendous! I’d have to go back to scrounging every secondhand reference book I could lay my hands on.

Count of professions you have been into: Seven, if you count Dialect Coach.

Where do you see the future of blogging in coming five years?
Two things:
1) Its going to be much more interactive with much more high bandwidth content such as video.
2) It will be much more powerful as it cuts further into traditional journalism’s territory.

david recommendsWhom would you recommend as my next EliteBloger and why?

James Lileks at lileks. He is the funniest writer in America today and his Bleat is a daily treat, though he is incredibly busy.

Give us your views on EliteChoice.
I never fail to marvel at the human ingenuity your site showcases or the sort of things people are willing to part with good money for.

Your turn! You can ask me one question.
Are people really daft enough to put treadmills at their work stations?

Yes, as long as manufacturers like to play with their wild levels of creativity and come out with such revolutionary offerings’.

We thank David for managing time for us and wish him luck with his “Tales of Future Past.”
David Szondy

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