On The Trail Of Bacon Crumbs

– by Albert Berkshire

I was doing research for a project, recently, when I got hit with one of those internet distractions. It was a senseless, but whimsical, deviation from my path. You know the kind, a friend sends you a You Tube link to a cat named Maru – who, by the way, is the world’s funniest cat –

Wait a second. This is where I need David Mitchell to chime in because I’m not 100% certain that a cat is a “who”, or a “which”. And while it does have a name – Maru – it, the cat (now I’m really pronoun challenged, or shy) isn’t a person, in which case I am compelled to ask; “Is a cat a thing?”

This is perplexing, and I apologize while I take time away from this thought, or what was originally to be the thought, while I confer with the Oxford English Dictionary.

<musical interlude>

Hmmmm. I expected as much.

Now I can’t remember if Maru is a male or female or a formerly male or formerly female cat. Either way, a pronoun is appropriate and it shall be “it”, not “who”.

This love of the English language is quite taxing.

So, as I was saying, one moment you’re watching Maru, which (grammatically correct) is the world’s funniest cat, and the next moment you’re watching Luciano Pavarotti performing live with U2 on stage in Modena and you have no idea a) how you got here; b) how much time you’ve lost; and c) why you didn’t run into Kevin Bacon in those six degrees of separation.

Please don’t ask me to explain the latter. Oh, very well then… <Me-Adam Bernard-Rick Schroeder-Kevin Bacon>

When I finally realized where I was in my day, in the web, and in my fruitless search for information, I started to become overly focused on the amount of time I spend wasting time. Now that, to a former Journalism instructor of mine, might be considered grossly redundant, but the fact of the matter is, it is accurate. I have actually invested time in the art of wasting time.

You know, the more I try to explain it, the more it makes sense to me. And normally I’d feel slightly embarrassed about admitting something so ridiculous, but in reality, it is the sublime that I find the most appealing. Now, you, if you care for definition and proper use, as I do, might argue the use of “sublime” in that context, but I like to think of the ridiculous as being sublime, or lofty, or elevated or grand (in the sense of a writing – no irony there. No chance here).

Were we going somewhere with this? Hells yeah!!!!

I was heading in one direction when something caused me to take a sharp left turn, then a right, then a left until I zig-zagged my way to the two-thirds point in a novel I started more than a year ago. Writing, not reading. I thought I had my story. I thought I knew what it was going to be about. I thought I had it all figured out. Then, as I started writing more and more, as I delved (was that too predictable a word?) deeper (now it is) into the characters, as I found not my story, but their story, I realized it was no different from my frequent – far too frequent – forays into research on ye olde world wide web-thing.

You might like to think that you just never know where you’re going to end up. And in some cases, you may be under the correct assumption; but I like to think of it as knowing where I am going, it’s how I get there that is the nebulous journey.

But that’s me. I’m big on dank adventures. Yes. I wrote dank.

Last night at a wine and cheese reception at a conference, I was chatting with a person who told me the many directions her career took her – so far. And in the core of that conversation I came to have a better understanding of how we, as humans (more particularly at this stage of our online social development), go through life searching for something that gives us direction. But if you, at some point in your life, stop to connect the dots along your path, the path behind you, you’ll discover some very interesting degrees of separation.

And that realization, however “Aha!” it may be, just might be the defining moment in your life…or at the very least, your career.

I had mine sitting outside a pizza joint last Sunday night. And I am indebted to the connection of the dots, and an old friend who is just one more degree of separation away from Kevin Bacon.

How far I am from Maru, the world’s funniest cat, is another puzzle all together.

I'm a vegetarian, and as such, am happily more than six degrees separated from THIS bacon.

Albert Berkshire is a writer, producer and voice actor. He writes for a living, and for the love of the art. He is now focused on finishing the last third of his novel. He lives, writes, plays, and consults for clients on Canada’s West Coast. Listening to others, and caring about their stories has helped make his company, GreatCreative.Com, successful. For a much shorter, and less frequent rambling, follow Albert on Twitter @albertberkshire. 

Dénouement de Léonard

– by Albert Berkshire (the real one)

You know the expression – “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.”  Yeah. I guess.  But I also value the pee stops. Sure, the journey is half the fun, but getting to the finish line is pretty sweet, too.

From March 30 to April 29, 2012 (yes, I guess that was just the other day) I was engrossed in a project with a fellow writer, a colleague, a friend. Tommie Lee (no, not that one, the real one) is working on his fourth novel; I, on my first. The project was called 30 In 30.  Our goal was to each add 30,000 words to our projects over 30 days. Some days were a struggle. Some days it just flowed. Some days I needed more and more wine. Some days I just needed to have a conversation, and then the words poured out of me. Some days I just needed to be left alone. Some days I completely understood how writers, authors, could become antisocial, brooding alcoholics. Some days I loved what I wrote. Some days I didn’t think I would ever make any progress.

In the end, we each added around 32,000 words. We succeeded in our goals.

The book isn’t done. I probably have another 20,000-30,000 words that need to be written. I tell you the word count, because based on they story so far – the story that is nothing like it was when I started – I know there is still a lot of ground to cover. And after twisting and turning through character development, new character introductions, and bizarre twists that even I, as the author, didn’t see coming, I am finally enjoying the process.

Writing a book is a lot of work. A LOT of work. But it is good work.

Over the course of my professional career, in radio and advertising, I changed my title many times. I was once a “radio personality”, a “presenter”, a “creative writer”, a “producer”, and for some time, a “writer, producer, voice actor”. I keep trying to simplify, or fine-tune my self-description. In all honestly, I would simply like to be known as “author”. That’s the end game. That’s the resolution. That’s the dénouement.

When I tell people I am a writer, they often ask me what I write. Thing is, I am a sarcastic bastard. I have often responded, mostly out of frustration with having to explain my career – the one that hasn’t yet produced a complete novel – with “Well, I like to start with words, then sentences, and if I get on a good roll, I feel I can step it up to paragraphs.” I’m often met with a blank stare. Deserving, I am sure.

The other challenge I face, and forgive me if I have shared this before, is the typical response to the revelation, “I’m a writer”. That usually gets me a “Oh. You should write a book.” Yes. I should. I am trying. Believe me, I am trying.

Here’s the thing: A writer writes a story when the writer has a story. No sooner. No later. No pressure can create it. No pressure can stop it. It is either there, or it is not. There is no middle ground.  And if there is middle ground, I sure want to know where that is so I can plant my flag and call it home.

Actually, check that. It sounds like a mediocre compromise. I’m not interested. I’d rather have the extreme highs and extreme lows of storytelling – and believe me, the highs are really high, and the lows are really low. My friends know all about it. I am either excited to talk about my work, or I want to erase any memory of ever having mentioned what this is about.

Today, is a good day. So let me tempt you with this notion: Someone loves. Someone lives. Someone tells the story. Someone better buy this thing…because I already have the characters and outline for my second novel. Funny how that happens.

This journey has been interesting. It has taught me a lot about my day job – perhaps the only reason you read this Blog. There are times I wanted to throw it all away and start over. But I’ve invested a lot of time and effort into it, and it will pay off – either as a successful novel, or a complete project that bleeds bliss. It’s like your marketing. You put a lot of time and effort into building your brand (or having my company, Great Creative.com, do it for you), and then you just have to be patient.

Sooner or later, when everyone is ready, they are going to want what you have. You just have to be diligent, be focused, and be original.

There’s a character in my novel who is willing to wait forever for something. But he never focuses on the waiting, he only focuses the benefit of the wait.

The benefit, in the end, is the one thing you (or he) want more than anything.

For what are you waiting?

Some things are worth the wait.

Albert Berkshire is a writer, producer and voice actor. He just wants to be an author, which is why he’s so focused on finishing this novel. Currently, he lives, writes, plays, and consults for clients on Canada’s West Coast. He’s waiting for something, and it is definitely worth it. Patience and determination has helped make his company, GreatCreative.Com, successful. For a much shorter, and less frequent rambling, follow Albert on Twitter @albertberkshire.