Sunday, 4 December 2011

Reading, Writing & Arithmetic … Wait they said there’d be no Math.

With my Masters happily behind me I decided to do something that I haven’t done in far, far, far too long.  I actually sat down and read a book for enjoyment!

No, seriously.

It wasn’t a textbook or research paper, but an honest to goodness book.   It was such an unusual experience for me. 

“Are you kidding me!” you ask. “You want to write a freaking novel and you haven’t read a real book in a while.  Good luck with that buddy.”

Well, first of all, don’t call me buddy, pal.  Secondly, yes you are correct in your ridicule.  I know I need to read more.  It will help me understand the craft better.  I can examine plot development, characters, writing styles, and a myriad of other valuable aspects of the writing.  But I have a minor problem.

Books are like Meth to me.  I read 2 pages and I can’t stop.  I don’t want to sleep.  I don’t want to eat.  I just need to finish the book! 

You can see how this may be problematic for a stay-at-home dad of 3, who is also trying to write.  Needless to say, 2 ½ days later I finished the 3 books in The Hunger Games series.  Was it the perfect series? No, but I enjoyed it and it is in the approximate age range that I am targeting my finished work.  Did I glean anything useful from my efforts?  Yes, I think I did.  What?  I’ll maybe tell you later.  But first I need to learn how to put down a book and not inhale it.

Let’s shift gears for a second, away from my personal weakness and talk a little about the project I mentioned last week.

I was talking to a guy I know at my church.  At this point I wouldn’t call him a close friend but more of a strong acquaintance, but he is a good guy none-the-less.  Well, it just so happens that he is a professional photographer.  Not weddings or photo journalism, but commercial photography.  He creates images that are used in print ads, magazine covers (he has done a couple for Time and Newsweek) and lately book covers. 

We were talking a few weeks ago about nothing in particular when I asked him how work was going, as he had just come back from a photo-shoot in New York.  He said the shoot went well.  Then he asked me how life was going as a stay-at-home dad and if I was doing anything else with my time.  I don’t know why, since I don’t share my writing with anyone, but I told him I had taken up writing.  I guess I figured that he was a creative person and wouldn’t mock my efforts.  Too my surprise he was actually kind of excited by this.  He told me that he had always wanted to shoot a short film but all he could come up with was the title.  He went on to say that the first thing he wanted to do was shoot a photo book of the story and then someday shoot the film.  He asked me if I wanted to give writing the story a shot.  Nothing was promised but he figured that I might have a better idea of “story” than he did as he operates in a strictly visual world.  I thought for a second and then said “Sure, I’ll give it a shot.” 

So that is what I did.  I wrote the beginning of a short story based on the title he gave me.  I don’t know if it is what he had in mind, but I sent it off to him for feedback.  He is in Maui for a couple of weeks (oh, to be successful) but he emailed me back to say he was excited to read it.

This is a huge step for me as I have never, ever shared my writing with anyone other than my wife and a couple of university professors.  He may hate it, he may like it, or he may have a completely different idea in his mind.  But, I took a risk and some day it might turn into something. 

Let’s see where this road takes me.  At least I have finally gotten off my butt and started my journey.

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