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

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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.

 

I Wrote A Book!

Some time ago a man said to me, “under-promise and over-deliver.” Those were the  words that I constantly heard in my head as I finally began writing my own book.

To summarize as quickly as possible, I have wanted to write a book since I was 9 years old. I still vividly recall the first, less than a page long, short story that I wrote in the third grade. I recall it so vividly because I was certain it would propel me to stardom, never mind that I hadn’t bothered to publish it, write a second draft, edit for grammar etc… My point is, being a shade under 30 years old and having made no more attempts to write a novel since my third grade failure, I decided to knuckle down and write.

Starting January 1st,  2016, I made it my daily mission to put real effort into completing a novel of my own. I did not set out to write the great American novel, nor did I set out to write something famous, I set out to write a book. As of April 28th, 2016 I am happy to say that not only have I written a book, but I have now completed my second draft and will shortly be sending the book off to an editor for review.

I can say confidently that I had no idea how much work would go into writing the first and second draft’s of my novel, but I know damn well that my real work is just beginning. AS I am planning to self-publish the novel in various online platforms, I still have to create and finalize a cover image, secure a copyright, lay the groundwork for a small marketing campaign and so on…

The reason I wrote, and have always wanted to write, a book can be summarized in one word; inspiration. The movies, books, songs, and plays that have populated my imagination since childhood have woven a spell of inspiration in my mind that transcends enjoyment and calls for me to create. It may have taken me 30 years to discover how to respond to the calling, but, as they say, “better late than never.”

Check in through the coming weeks as I unveil my progress in finalizing the book.

An Allegory of Opportunity

Beginning a new work-place adventure after 6 years in one place can be a terrifying and marvelous prospect. I immediately waxed poetic on the feeling. Below are my thoughts.

The ship I stand upon is opportunity.

The spray of this unknown sea promises thrill, torment, magic and malice alike.

A cold wind blows, doubt. The sun breaks the clouds, hope.

Behind me is not safety, but familiarity. I think I should like to be unfamiliar.

The creaks of the decking whisper the responsibility of adventure and the horizon is mystery incarnate.

Too long has fear kept me moored where it may have hauled an anchor.

Now the sea she calls, and I will answer.

I trust to three things; my hands, love, and a lust for adventure to spurn me on.

Fare well, the setting sun I knew so long – I’d see you rise for me now.

Haul anchor!

*It’s important to note that I have an immense fascination with maritime exploration, hence the obvious and much used metaphor of ship and sea.