Joe Flood is an award-winning writer, photographer and web content manager from Washington, DC.
Raised in Illinois and Florida, I graduated from American University. I’m the author of two novels, as well as short stories, screenplays and articles.I’ve worked as a web content manager for major organizations such as AARP, The Nature Conservancy and NOAA. When I’m not working or writing, you can find me taking photos around DC, especially of bikes, beer and city life.
On joeflood.com, I write about creativity and the arts, particularly in the Washington region. I’m interested in e-books, Kindle, iPhoneography, photography, Flickr, social media, e-government (my day job), writing, novels, online marketing and creativity in general.
Born in Illinois, I went to high school in Florida before moving to DC to attend American University. I majored in International Relations, seeking a more varied course of study than just reading novels, a decision that I regretted after my first political science class. I kept at it, however, naively thinking that a degree in International Relations was more valuable than one in Literature.
It isn’t, as any liberal arts major can tell you.
After a couple years working in DC, I returned to Florida. I applied to MFA programs, got accepted into one, but couldn’t afford it.
So, I wrote a novel on my own – it’s called My Inheritance and is about a high school kid who masquerades as a college student. It was read by a couple of agents but wasn’t picked up.
Returning to DC, I became fascinated by the internet. This was the 90s. With a web site, my short stories could reach the whole world rather than just a few zine subscribers.
This liberal arts grad got a Mac and learned HTML. I created a basic site and helped others with theirs. And what started off as a hobby became a career as variously an Internet Content Consultant, Web Editor, Web Producer and Web Site Manager. No matter the job title, my role was the same – I used my mix of creative and technical skills to develop great web content.
While terrible for your finances, having mini-retirements is tremendously helpful for a creative person. During one of these interregnums, I edited the script of an indie film after seeing a classified ad in the City Paper. Looking at the script of this doomed movie (never to be released), I thought to myself, “I can do this.”
I went on to write six feature-length screenplays, infected with the get-rich dream of the spec scriptwriter.
That never happened.
But my screenplay, Mount Pleasant, won the Film DC Screenwriting Competition. I got to visit the set of The West Wing in 2006 and realized that LA was not for me. I could write the best script in the world and the odds were that it would never be produced.
Writers are introverts. Being involved in indie film was the best thing ever for me – it got me out of my own head. I met actors and directors and producers at local happy hours and meetups. I wrote two films as part of the 48 Hour Film Project and met Jon Gann, Director of the DC Shorts Film Festival.
I became sort of an uber-volunteer for DC Shorts. Over the past few years, I’ve done everything – directed a screenplay reading, judged films, helped with marketing, trained bloggers, moderated Q&A discussions, served on panel discussions and been the photo coordinator.
And I was glad to do so. DC Shorts is the opposite of Hollywood – it’s a small, local festival designed to celebrate short films that anyone can make. Plus, it’s inspiring to meet and drink with so many creative people each year.
But in 2008, this wasn’t enough. I quit my job and took time off to write a novel. After several months in coffee shops, I emerged with Murder in Ocean Hall, a mystery set in DC. A couple years later, I published a second book – Don’t Mess Up My Block, a parody of the self-help genre. I published them myself on the Kindle, joining the indie author movement.
And I’ve got another book coming. An excerpt from it, The Wallace Line, was a finalist in the Nelson Algren Contest sponsored by the Chicago Tribune.
After my experience in web publishing, self-publishing was a natural for me. I believe in more communication, not less, and see self-publishing as analogous to the Internet. The same arguments that are used against e-books were once lodged against the net.
Like my hero Steve Jobs, I think that the best parts of modern life exist at the intersection of creativity and technology. I’m fascinated by tools that empower artists.
Which is perhaps why I find digital photography so interesting. Walking around the city taking photos with my iPhone is something I enjoy a lot. I like sharing my photos and have been glad to see them used by local blogs and other organizations.
I am happy to be an amateur photographer. Writing is my “serious” art and photography my pleasurable hobby. I’ve seen (and done) just enough professional photography to realize the advantages of being an amateur.
You’ll notice there’s not much about my personal life in this biography. As a “well-adjusted introvert,” to quote a friend, I don’t believe in letting it all hang out online. I’m kind of horrified by that idea.
But, I do very much enjoy living in DC. I’m a city person. I like being able to walk to bookstores and stumble home from bars. I love the burgeoning bike culture in DC. I enjoy food trucks and going to museums and how everything seems to happen within a few blocks of where I live.