Michael

Beckett

creator - storyteller - explorer

The Short Story

I’ve always been a storyteller. In second grade I asked Santa for a typewriter. Luckily the jolly old guy came through. I miss the clack-clack-ding of typewriters, and after decades of writing in a multitude of fields and genres, I still bang away at the keyboard with two fingers. 

No matter the style or medium, I create stories that reflect and celebrate our common humanity. And perhaps add a little something to the human experience. Moments of wonder exist all around us; I try to keep my eyes open to them. I do stop to smell flowers along a roadside; there might be a story in it -- or at least a small moment of joy. For me, work and life are guided by my mantra...

explore   discover   share   enlighten   empower   inspire

 

Portfolio Samples

 

Long-Distance Dad

 

My professional writing background spans a range of industries, styles and platforms. Click thumbnails to access PDF files.  

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Wall Calendars

Package and introductory copy for wall
calendars produced by Graphique de France 

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Sales Brochure

Product brochure introducing premium Italian wood flooring to US market

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Anniversary Report

Articles summarizing issues and activities for US Department of Transportation R&D center

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Web Site

Company overview and project descriptions for high-end interior design firm portfolio site

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Sell Sheets

Practice area overviews and project highlights for leading social policy research firm

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Public Information Newsletters

Content and development of newsletter series covering major infrastructure project 

The greatest story I will ever share is one I also have the absolute joy of living. When I decided on a whim to mentor a teenager in a South African settlement, I thought it might change his life a bit. I never imagined how much it would change mine. Despite being from very different worlds, Mtuseni and I have developed a deep father-son bond. We are a global family for the 21st century.

A Long-Distance Dad book project is now being developed. Like a traditional family, our engaging story is rich with humor, emotion, and conflict. Photos, text messages, and screen captures help readers experience the wonder, challenges, and rewards of parenting a teenager who is 8000 miles away. Together we learn invaluable lessons about life and love. Agent and publisher inquiries are welcome. Click the thumbnail to download a pitch sheet.

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Long-Distance Dad

   Book Introduction

We sat in the warm morning sun of a Johannesburg sidewalk cafe. I looked across the table at this kid, a young man really, who was a complete stranger not so long ago.

 

I’d been looking forward to this trip for weeks. We both had been. But now something felt off. The person I had journeyed to see for the first time, who greeted me with a high-wattage grin, had become increasingly quiet, almost sullen.

The Long Road to Fatherhood

   New York Times Essay

When my son’s life was stuck in neutral last fall, I decided to take him on a cross-country road trip. I thought an adventure would give him new experiences and perspectives, open his mind to possibilities. 

 

Driving coast-to-coast helped change my own stalled life 30 years ago. There’s a reason stories of the road have long been a fixture of America. 

 

And it would be good to spend some time together; we don’t get to see each other much. We have a unique relationship. 

The Better Man

   Blog Post

Mtuseni went to City Year training camp last week. I was holding my breath for his reaction. It’s one thing to commute to Joburg for a week of orientation; it’s another to be bunking with 100 others for training and team building. Mtuseni can be social but also needs alone time; he’s a big thinker and brooder.

So when I got a “Guess who’s back?” text and asked him how camp went, I half braced myself for a gripe session. Instead I got adjectives like great, challenging, and fantastic.

Creative Writing

 

A sample of other stories in various formats.

Inspiration

   Short Story + Film

I didn't mind my mother’s boyfriends living with us. But Jack had been with us much too long. I took a slurpy sip of my coffee, extra extra light with two and a half sugars. It was like a milkshake, only warm.

“Claire,” he said, “don’t you think you’re a little young to be drinking coffee?”

 

I looked across the table at his skinny face. “Uncle Jack,” I said, trying to make my voice sound the same as his, “don’t you think you’re a little old to have a big blob of cream cheese on your cheek?”

America's Human Tapestry

   Medium Essay

Chafing at travel restrictions, I decided to relive the road trip, to bask in those feelings of exploration and discovery and wonder again. I closed my eyes and let my mind retrace our route.

But the travelogue movie didn’t play out as I expected. The postcard imagery quickly gave way to something else, perhaps due to the limited social contact we all endure now. Because what popped into my head were people we met along the way…

The trio of girls working the gift shop at the Statue of Liberty, who gamely posed for our first cheesy selfie of the trip.

Men: Talk More, Live Longer

    Good Men Project Essay

In this regard I am my father’s son. I may share some of my inner life with people, but in many ways I’m like most men. When faced with a tough situation, I never ask for help; I don’t want to look weak. If someone takes advantage of me, I let it slide. I wouldn’t want to sound like a crybaby! Those unmet needs and unspoken resentments gnaw at me and wear me down.

Thoreau wrote that “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” But being silent while feeling burdened inside is a choice. I’m choosing to let go of that heavy load. And inviting men to do the same. June is Men’s Health Month. This year it also falls in a period of unprecedented distress in America.

 
 

Credits+Awards

Films & Publications

“The Long Road to Fatherhood” – The New York Times, 2020 (author)

 

Inspiration – 15-minute 35mm film,  2009 (screenwriter, producer)

“Inspiration” – Literal Latte, New York: 1998 (author)

“Mrs. Turley's Roses” – Evergreen Chronicles, Minneapolis: 1994 (author)

Awards

In the Snake Online Anthology, Fiction Competition -- Grand Prize 2011

Massachusetts Cultural Council New Theater Fellowships -- Finalist 2003

 

Chesterfield Writer’s Film Project, Screenwriting Fellowships -- Semifinalist 2003, 2001

 

Austin Film Festival, Screenwriting Competition -- Second Round 2001

 

Cynosure Screenwriting Awards -- Quarter-finalist 2002

 

New York Anti-Defamation League -- Dore Schary Award for Human Relations Filmmaking

Connect

Email - mgbeckett19@gmail.com

Agent inquiries, project ideas and collaboration offers welcome.

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