20 Years Later, I Finally Completed My Book

It’s been so long since I last touched base about my book that I wouldn’t blame anyone for forgetting that I had written one in the first place. Well, long story short, writing is the easy part, editing is the hard part. Shocker.

I presented my Mom with the finalized manuscript on Mother’s day. She told me that when I was nine I informed her that I would write a book some day. It took me the better part of twenty years, Ma – sorry about the wait.

All my life I have been surrounded by the most kind, creative, and talented people imaginable. I hope this book brings them a fraction of the joy they have brought me.

Click here to find the book on Amazon. Currently, the book is only available on Kindle. The reason? Kindle allows authors to self-publish with an insanely convenient platform. Also, digital publishing allowed me to offer the book for only $0.99.  Want me to make printed copies? Want the book available in other digital formats? Let me know in the comments area.

 

 

 

Serendipity and Circumstance

When I finally set out to write a book I, like many others, decided that I would ‘write what I know’. For most authors, myself included, this meant that my story would involve elements of my family, friends and the experiences I had undertaken in my life up to that moment. I’ve had the amazing and extraordinary experience of making and keeping a friend since before I had the ability to recall cognitive thought, which is a fancy way of saying that I have been lucky enough to maintain a friendship with my oldest buddy for one hell of a long time. In fact, our friendship grew to include one another’s families so that now, 25 or so years later, we act more like a family than friends with one another; this is something beyond special.

The book I originally set out to write was meant to be a  twisted version of the friendship that my buddy and I now share. I wanted to write a present day scenario in which we, the two friends, had lost touch with one another, but our families maintained the same friend/family contact we had grown up with. The raw emotional tension and literary possibilities were endless, but I struggled enormously when trying to devise ways in which we, the”characters” would have failed one another so enormously that we wouldn’t speak to one another for over a decade.

Luckily, when writing my morning pages, another, albeit a vastly different, idea for a novel to write appeared organically on the page in front of me and I decided to move forward with it. I felt odd leaving the fictional versions of myself and my friend behind, but I knew I had to follow my creative mojo and scrap my original story.

Fast forward to me being three months into writing the first draft and my wife and I are visiting my buddy and his wife in their home. As we amble about the city streets having one hell of a time, I finally tell my buddy about my original idea for my book, how I abandoned it and why I abandoned it. He, like me, found it difficult to imagine a way to create an antagonist/protagonist relationship between us, even though the characters would have been fictional versions of us. However, that night my buddy offered to edit the book for me when I had completed my draft. The moment he offered, I realized I could’t think of anyone else I would rather have edit the book for me.

The first printed version of the book was sent directly to him, and as I placed the pages in the package I realized that neither he or I could have written a more fitting story about how I came to write my fist book, and he came to edit his first book. His name is Andy Bird, and he and I have been friends for one hell of a long time.

Andy and I

First Printed Draft!

This is a photograph of my first printed draft of my novel. I did all of my own edits and drafts digitally, so I must admit that holding this physical copy was far more emotionally rewarding that I ever thought it would be.

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Morning Pages

In order to prepare for writing my first book, I thought it was likely best that I practice writing in general. I know that may sound ridiculous, but I had previously written periodically and never with such continued intent as would be needed for writing a whole novel. I had heard several people praise a method known as “morning pages”, but it wasn’t until I heard Brian Koppelman, writer of the screenplay for Rounders, speak about his near religious adherence to writing morning pages that I decided to give the  practice a shot.

For those unfamiliar, the idea is two write three hand written pages of a free flowing chain of though within the first few hours of waking. It is very important not to stop writing the pages once you have begun; the point is to flow through them consistently and, perhaps most importantly, not think about what you are trying to write. I know I was incredibly surprised to discover how much my thoughts stood directly in the way of the forward momentum of my writing. More often than not, I found myself not wanting to write the first thing that came to mind for fear of what someone might think of what I had just written. Luckily, the beauty of the morning pages presents itself in that very problem; no one, not even you, are supposed to even read what is written in your morning pages. Imagine, you allow yourself to write whatever the hell pops in your mind for three whole pages, and in so doing you will have stoked a fire under your desire to simply put words on a page. Nothing south of magic lies in the freedom that the morning pages afford the author who thinks too much; all of us.

My practicing morning pages not only helped me to write my novel, it actually helped me to realize that I didn’t want to write the novel I had originally intended to write. I had completed an entire outline for a novel that I ultimately cast aside because of the things I learned about my writing when I was doing my pages. I know everyone has their own process, and no two authors are alike, but if you often stop yourself from writing because you are worried about other people’s opinions, you might want to give morning pages a try.

 

DIY Sound Booth

Since I have decided to become a voice actor, a dedicated space in which to record my vocals has become something of a necessity. Searching for home, or portable solutions that were also less costly often led to mixed opinions and varying degrees of success. Finally, I decided to grab the bull by the horns and come up with my own design. Attempt one was meant to be something  of a temporary solution, and quite frankly, it shows. However, the PVC Cube wrapped in moving blankets and lined with gun case foam did prove effective. For proof, listen to any of the preceding audio I have posted on the blog.

Materials for V:1 Audio booth.

Materials for V:1 Audio booth.

Admittedly a bit hard to see, but the structure housed my mic, computer, and scripts for recording.

Admittedly a bit hard to see, but the structure housed my mic, computer, and scripts for recording.

V:1 of my audio booth cost roughly $30 to create, for anyone interested in the plans, please comment below. Though the structure worked, it was also stifled by a few limitations. Chief among the limitations, the fact that I was forced to sit to record. Anyone who has recorded before will know that it is a hell of a lot easier to sound natural and lively while standing. With this goal in mind, I decided to design an upgrade…

For this project you will need: 1. Any power drill. 2. Any Power Saw. 3. Staple gun, brad gun, or nail gun. 4. Wood and shelf Brackets of your choice. 5. A kick ass assistant (specifically in this case, my wife. Her patience with me is to be praised). 6. Moving blankets, or whatever sound deadening material of your choice. Pictures of the construction of the booth, our experience building it, and the fist recording from within the booth are in the video below. Please comment for greater detail, or step by step instruction.