Sunday, January 31, 2016
Today I am an hour later, a bit calmer and in a totally different mindset.
On Friday, we packed up our car and a rental van and headed to a new future. Now, I had lived in Illinois for the majority of my life. I've only taken a couple trips here and there but I had always felt land-locked by whatever job I was doing at the time.
I've been to Wisconsin a few times. One time I got lost there.
I've been to Missouri but that was for my grandma's funeral.
And, or course, there was our trip to Pennsylvania.
But I've visited Michigan before. I liked it.
So we took the I-290 through Chicago. We left at Noon and quickly encountered heavy bumper-to-bumper traffic. And in that traffic, I started to get anxious. It was 30 degrees outside. I had my shades on, my red baseball cap and a coat that I borrowed from my father.
Right then, a loud voice shouted inside my head "THIS WILL NOT WORK!"
Then my stomach kept rolling into knots, warning me that I was going to throw up. I started breathing deep, in and out, just to stave off my upset stomach. Desperately I started turning the dial on the radio, thinking that if I heard a song I recognized, that would comfort some part of my brain with familiarity. But, somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew that this was a big change. I didn't want to have a panic attack right there on the road.
In the lane ahead, my wife was driving the rental van with my daughter in the child seat and my mother-in-law in the back seat. It was then that I began reliving my days living next to the windy city. It does have character, but it also has scars. Everything is cramped and foreboding. But on other days it's bright and scenic. I guess my whole life I've been weighing the beauty of Chicago against the ugliness. I can honestly say that I've had a love/hate relationship with Chicago.
Sure, I loved driving to different book events to see an author I admired and get a book signed. But when the rest of the nation is calling your city Chi-raq, you tend to take notice. The news would debut each night with a shooting (Gang activity, stray bullet, etc). I've heard guns fired so many times it became normal. Now, I know there's violence everywhere, but this felt like in was in our face daily.
Michigan held a new start.
My wife pulled over in a gas station after an hour and a half. We had taken a wrong turn and I needed to take a breath. I got some gum, some water, went to the bathroom, hopped in the car and we took off once more.
When we passed the sign saying welcome to Indiana, I started to breathe easier. I was basically following the van, only had to look at the google map and directions a few times. So from Noon to 5:30 all I did was drive, all the while listening to the radio. This time around I didn't mind listening to songs I had never heard before. Like a Prayer from Madonna came on along with Hello From The Other Side from Adele.
Then, the first change. My favorite radio stations were noticeably disappearing. 91.5 (Npr), 100.3, 101.1, 101.9, 103.5, and 104.3 were giving way to static. I had to scan through to find some new stations. An unhealthy amount of country songs flooded the radio. And as we were passing into Michigan, I found NPR was now on 91.1, featuring an interview with Carol Burnett. Heard she was recently receiving an AFI Award. Listened to it for a while and found out Burnett had a chin job done during the filming of Annie (A movie my daughter watches like crazy.) If you look for it, you can see she has a different chin when she comes out of the mail room and starts singing with Tim Curry and Bernadette Peters.
There was also a segment where a son recounted how his father stopped speaking Spanish in his family because he was dismayed every time someone treated him differently when he spoke it. But now, with his son grown up, he wanted to see if his father still spoke it.
I connected with this story a little bit. I was raised with my Papa speaking both Italian and Spanish. I understand very little of it. As I was growing up, I noticed that Italians were sometimes stereotyped as obnoxious, loud and under-educated. (That Jersey Shore show didn't help, either.) I may be loud at times, but I read constantly and love researching history and learning about different cultures. And I had always heard that Michigan was different; a different way of life altogether.
The stress was gone. Our target was Bay City.
We stopped at a gas station/McDonald's to refuel. Then we got back on the road from 5:50 to 8:30. Hard to believe we had driven over 300 miles.
Things are not only different, they're better.
I don't hear sirens constantly.
The sidewalks are wider.
It seems like every thing you need to get to is only 5 minutes away.
People are friendlier.
The city has a lot of history, some buildings dating back to the 1920's.
You can actually park in front of a house without getting ticketed.
I've spent 3 days here and haven't seen one cop car.
I, along with others, needed a break from the hustle and bustle and just needed to slow down. Meanwhile, my budding career as a Voiceover Artist has been speeding up. I also wanted to focus on my own writing, as I'd like to format those into audio books as well. So yes, this has been a big change. But I feel rejuvenated and optimistic about the future. With narrating audio books, you can be flexible and record anywhere. Also, the best thing about being your own boss, you don't have to beg for days off and you can work at your own pace. I'm happier now and it feels great. More news to come.
Oh, and keep writing...
Sunday, October 18, 2015
|"...Must write, must write, must write, write, write, write..."|
So, as it turns out, I happen to be a pretty decent narrator. During the summer of 2014 I made a pretty big decision. I decided to toss my hat into the world of audio narration, after several people told me I should use my voice to my advantage. After 20 or so auditions, the offers began to increase. All of a sudden, I was paying bills with this kind of work. And because of that unexpected turnout, I decided to take a sabbatical (or dry spell, really) on all of my writing. I just completely cut it off.
All the story streams, thoughts, urges, everything...I suppressed them.
Now, after having done 50+ books, narrating everything from zombies, dramas, suspense, horror, action, erotica, you name it....the itch to write has returned. And it has grown stronger than ever.
At this point, I have about 8 books that need to be finished with production by the end of the year. I can think of no better time to jump back into writing than right now. Writing has always been my solace. It warms me, comforts me, calms me. Very therapeutic. It's sort of like playing Chess with yourself. I've always had a knack for figuring out sticky situations and I love to entertain people in the process. And hey, if I make a couple of bucks with it, all the better, right?
Therefore, I hereby declare that my self-inflicted writing ban has been lifted. Now, at least by making a blogpost about it, that will give my mind permission to unlock the flood gates that have been building up for so long. It's kind of exciting when you think about it. Will I be able to ride that wave of creativity again? Or will I wipe out and need to refresh my memory.
In other news, even though I have 8 books that I have to finish narrating, I have been thinking about turning some more of my works into audio editions.
The first of my works, I narrated myself, a short novella called Village Americana. You can listen to it by clicking on the cover below.
The second was a short story called Ye Olde Idea Shoppe. I wrote this for my daughter and had it narrated by the talented Maxine Lennon. You can also listen to it here.
But I would love to produce audio editions of For What It's Worth, Worth a Second Look, Mr. Dead Eyes and Wearing Donnie Torr. I've always wanted to narrate these titles myself. And who knows? If I start writing more, I could start narrating more of my stories. Then I would feel the full accomplishment of being a full-time Storyteller.
Thursday, February 19, 2015
I write this post, trying to gain some new ground. I'm pretty sure I haven't written a word of fiction for a year. And yet I have a box filled with half-finished fiction.
Just seems so hard to come back to it. Did Hemingway have dry spells? Vonnegut? Heller? Bradbury?
I'm 25,000 words into a crime fiction caper and have been dying to return to my characters. I've also been itching to write Mr. Dead Eyes 2. I'm also working on a sci-fi thriller involving visitors from the future.
Right now I'm fully focused on narration. 30 different projects. I've read some good books this past year, and each one has been needling me to finish my own writing projects.
But after a solid year of no new words?
Is it possible?
Maybe I should finish all my narration gigs first. Or should I just jump back in, guns blazing?
What do you think?
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
I know that for the past few months it's been radio silence on this blog, but that's because I have been very busy. I've taken a break from writing and have actually been narrating other people's books on Audible.com.
By the end of 2015, I hope to have reached 100 narrated titles.
I wanted to list them but I wanted to give that it's own blog.
So, if you are curious as to what audio book you should listen to next, just go here:
Titles updated as they go live.