A Few Questions for Jason Konopinski
Jason Konopinski is a freelance writer, blogger and all around cool guy. Check out his blog here.
How old were you when you decided you wanted to be a writer?
Hmm. That’s an interesting question. I’ve always been a downright voracious reader from my very earliest years, so I suppose moving into writing was a natural progression of that interest arc. While I was actively writing for pleasure throughout my elementary and middle school years, it was high school that really provided both the inspiration and the source material to get serious. Most of my creative output at that time was poetry (I was reading lots of Gary Snyder, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allan Ginsberg especially during those years). I’ve never been comfortable writing fiction so I focus on the essay and poetic forms.
Who is your favorite author and what is your favorite book by them?
For my fifteenth birthday, my parents gave me a leatherbound copy of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings”. He’s been a favorite ever since. Tolkien’s ability to create complex linguistic systems and build whole worlds around the rules of grammar is nothing short of awe-inspiring to me. Kerouac’s “Dharma Bums” and “Maggie Cassidy” both hold special meaning to me, too.
What motivated you to start blogging?
I tried for a number of years to gain some kind of purchase in the blogosphere – and there are a few blogs out with my name attached that have been left to wither. The problem with most of these was that I wasn’t fully invested into their success. I’d give it a whirl, post a couple of times and lost interest. Rinse, repeat. Back in 2010, I was coming off a big journalism project with a regional magazine and the fire came back. It was the spark that I needed to start blogging with a real sense of purpose. Every once in a while, I look back at those early posts and laugh. They’re so horribly bad. Contrived drivel. Once I actually listened to my own voice, I hit my stride.
I know you are a big music geek. What is your most treasured piece of memorabilia?
None of the LPs in my collection are particularly valuable on their own, but they hold great sentimental value. First and foremost, I buy vinyl because there’s an aesthetic connection between the physical piece of media and the music that’s captured therein. Music is memory, and I’m always amazed how quickly a single song can hearken back to some detail from my past. They’re not always pleasant, but they’re memories just the same. Perhaps the single instrument in my collection that has the most meaning is the fretless mountain banjo made for me by a gentleman in MN named John Petersen. John has a condition called Poland’s Syndrome where the fingers of his right hand are almost non-existent, so it makes the story behind his work even more powerful to me. It’s one of my favorite instruments to play.
Here’s a link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpuaixY8WHk
Tell me what event in your life shaped your taste in music.
I’ve always been surrounded by music, though I don’t come from a musical family. Both of my parents fostered a deep appreciation for music of all shapes and sorts in my sister and me. It wasn’t until I was 19 or 20 that learning to play became a priority; first, guitar, and then, mandolin and banjo. If I can point to a single life-changing musical moment, it would be my 2008 trip to Arnhemland. I spent three weeks helping record traditional song and dance and learned yidaki rhythms from Djalu Gurruwiwi, a Yolngu man from the Galpu clan who, by tradition, are considered to be custodians of the instrument. Witnessing manikay (sacred song sequence) performed on a beach near Yirrkala raised the hairs on my arms. It still does when I listen to those recordings.
How did you come to be a freelancer? Do you enjoy it?
I’ve been freelancing since 2007. That really began as an extension of my work in the digital solutions (namely, stock photography) world. One of the obvious benefits of being in a consulative sales position is becoming that trusted source; my agency clients would call on me to help brainstorm a new campaign or work on this bit of copy, and the work started coming in. What early on was really a stop-gap between roles has become a bigger part of my professional experience, but I’m still not in a position to rely 100% on my freelance work.
What advice would you give to someone who you knew wanted to start working for themselves but also needed to keep their day job?
We all have our passions and the work that we want to be doing. It’s all about preparation – knowing that you have the regular clients to sustain you when times get tough, squirreling away the income. I wish I could say that I did all of those things, but I didn’t. I’m fighting harder than ever to bring on more clients while still hunting for the FT role that’ll make me happiest.
What is the best piece of relationship advice you ever received? What was the worst? Did you follow the advice?
That’s easy. A relationship, professional or personal, built up on false pretenses and appearances can’t last. I’ve always tried to follow that with everyone that I meet. Insincerity smells something awful.
Worst relationship advice? You can buy your way in.
Last question – Snoopy Dance with me – Yay or Nay? YAY!
And that’s it!