I grew up playing with tape recorders.
My father was something of a gadget geek and he made sure he had one
of the first reel to reel tape decks when they became available to
consumers. I can’t remember the make or model, but it was one of the
most glorious things I can remember owning. I spent hours recording
my voice then speeding it up to sound like Alvin and the Chipmunks.
When I got older, I fell in love with
old radio shows, so a lot of my time was spent locked in my room,
trying to emulate the western shows I heard on nostalgia radio. I
created characters and voiced all the voices — yes, I was a complete
and utter nerd — and added sound effects and music.
Around the same time, I started using
the family Super 8 movie camera to make super hero movies. We didn’t
have the luxury of sync sound in those days, so in high school, when
I shot and edited a blatant rip-off of the movie Deliverance (minus
the squeal like a pig scene), I was forced to use non-sync sound when
we played the movie for executives from Fuji films, who went on to
sponsor the short in a national filmmaking contest.
All throughout these years I played
guitar and a bit of keyboard. I had been writing songs since the
age of thirteen and a few years later won a couple of local
During that same time, I also loved to
draw. For many years I was convinced I was going to be a commercial
artist, and even took a job at my local television station as an
assistant to the art director.
When home computers became available, I
took to them immediately, learning to do some minor programming and
jumping onto the Internet long before it became a household word.
And, of course, there was writing. I
wrote my first "short story" in intermediate school,
penning a cops and robbers tale that may or may not have had an
ending. As I got older, I started writing episodes of my favorite TV
shows — Rockford Files, Harry O, Hawaii Five-0 — in hopes that I’d
somehow be able to break in.
As you can see, I had a number of
different interests as I was growing up.
And that was my problem. During all
those years, I was so torn between being a writer, a rock star, an
artist, a computer geek and a filmmaker that I had absolutely no idea which to choose.
It wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I finally decided to
concentrate on one thing — writing — and when I turned 35, I won a
Nicholl Fellowship and sold my first screenplay.
Now, many years later, I find myself
beginning my sophomore year as a novelist — the thing I believe I
was meant to do all along. It took me a helluva long time to figure
that out, but here I am, for better or worse.
But what I find truly amazing is that
it seems that all those years I spent pursuing those different interests were
simply preparation for this phase of my life. Why?
Because now — amazingly enough — in
addition to writing, I find myself utilizing all of the other skills
I acquired along the way to help me promote this career I’ve finally
My love of audio recording has helped
me learn the art of podcasting. Fellow Killer Year and Murderati
blogger Brett Battles and I do
weekly monthly occasional podcasts
about the craft of writing.
My love of art has helped me develop an
eye for design, and my experience with computers and the Internet has
helped make developing my websites a breeze.
My love of songwriting has helped me compose
music for audio and video promotional materials, and my love of
filmmaking has led me to creating book trailers and short video clips
And it’s all truly coming together for me this Saturday. I was asked and accepted a gig to teach an MWA workshop on podcasting and book trailers in Little Tokyo.
It seems as if some cosmic force had something in
mind for me when it divided my brain into so many segments. All those
years I spent pursuing these separate passions, wondering what the
hell I was finally going to do with my life, seem to have come
together (just as my kids have left the house) to
turn me into a kind of one-man band, allowing me to do all of the
things I love doing —
— and, I might add, saving me
thousands of dollars in the process, because I’ll be damned if I’ll
hire anyone else to do this stuff for me.
I don’t consider myself a big believer in fate, but what else do you call it? Someone, somewhere must have had a plan, and it sure as hell wasn’t me.
But what I really want to know is this:
How did fate know I’d be such a cheapskate?