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.

 

Christmas Folk, An Original Audio Play For Christmas

This story has become something wonderful for me, not just because it marks the first time I was able to employ a full cast behind the mic, but also because creating it reminded me of the wonderful, innocent, beautiful magic that surrounds this season. I dearly hope you enjoy, and please, share with your friends and family.

Now presenting – Christmas Folk

Written, produced, and edited by Doug Dorda.

Pecos Bill – Dan Rickabus

Babe – Colin Ragan

Johnny – George Benson

To Create Or Consume, That Is The Question…

As I have decided to make more of a concerned effort to dedicate time to my voice acting, my mind grapples each week with the prospect of either creating or consuming. To simplify, I mean to say that I either want to enjoy stories in the form of books, movies, shows etc… or try to create my own stories that might potentially come to life in the minds of those around me,so long as I take the time to tell them.

I’ve been listening to the podcast Voice Acting Mastery, by Crispin Freeman and it has done nothing if not inspire me to “love the art in myself”. I have extrapolated this quote to encompass art as a whole. I envision art like a vast, glimmering ocean. From the oceanic “art”, there are contributing streams and rivers, as well as runoff streams and rivers. In my mind, I see myself as forming a tributary current into the art whenever I create stories of my own. In that way, others may form a “run-off” current from the vast art collective that may include my own art! That is truly a marvelous thing.

It is in this spirit that I feel confident allowing this week to be one of creation. There is a frightful wonder riding within me as I type, for this week I have decided to script a story that has not yet been told. This nervous anxious electricity reminds of what it felt like to believe as a child does, allowing the never before seen to become my oldest friend in an instant. In short – no audio this week, but a promise of a story to come.

Any Port In a Stormy

There is a lot to be said about feeling intangibly cool in a piece of clothing that is also practical. There is even more to be said about a piece of clothing that meets the above requirements and is made in Michigan. There is a slew of massive words to be slung about that piece of clothing also offering a LIFETIME guarantee. The Stormy Kromer hats and apparel have been proudly made in Michigan since 1903. Those who already own them belong to what may seem like a secret society of mid westerners that greet one another as old friends at the mere “tip of a hat”. I have little more pride for any of my clothing than I do for my Stormy Kromer gear. Please allow me to assault your ears with my praise of the company.

The Spirit And The Sprite, An Original Story For The Fall

As a child, I was captivated by those who could tell intriguing tales. Huddled around campfires, gathered around hearths, under blanket forts lit with a flashlight; these are the places that my imagination sprang to life. I have aspired to tell the sorts of tales that I was told while growing up. I hope you enjoy this tale of why the leaves fall each year.