art

News and Updates

Self Publish or Traditional?


No Comments

I’m nearing the point where I will have to make a decision. Do I self-publish my memoir or should I go the traditional route? I am having a hard time deciding. Here’s why.

My first instinct is to go traditional publishing for a few reasons. First and foremost, respect. Not everyone can get published through a publishing company but anybody can self publish a book, so it would make me feel more like a legitimate writer. As a writer, at least for me, there is constant doubt as to whether or not my writing is any good. Getting published through a publishing company and having a literary agent would make me feel official and I hopefully I would have less doubt.

Next, traditional publishing handles everything…for a price. I don’t know about you but I am not great at marketing. I know what to do, I can picture it all in my head, but when it comes time to follow through, consistently, I have zero interest. I don’t like to bother people. I know exactly how it feels to talk to someone and then they start trying to sell you something. I don’t want to do that to anybody. Of course I want to get paid to write, it’s my dream job, but selling yourself is part of writing, unless I go with traditional publishing.

A publishing company gets paid when your book sells so it is in their best interest to market your book. They will put it on the front of their website, post it on social media, and if you get really lucky, they’ll know somebody that knows somebody and before you know it, you’re talking to Oprah. (Or whomever is her equivalent today). At the very least, they will try to make some money from your book and so there will be effort on their part. However, as stated before, that comes with a pretty heft price, or a percentage of all sales. I don’t know the exact numbers but i’m pretty sure it’s akin to the old record label days when the artist gets like 7% after it’s all said and done.

Which brings me to self publishing.

If I self publish my memoir, I can either sell it through my website and get to keep any profit (minus cost of production and distribution) or I can host it on Amazon or something and get to keep a decent portion of all sales (I think it’s like 35% or something). However, I will have to market myself. *gag*

I hate marketing. I know it’s everywhere and anything I’ve ever purchased is probably influences by some brilliant marketing, but when I think of what it really is, it makes me sick. Marketing is influencing an audience to purchase a product. What does that really mean? Influencing is a fancy way to say manipulating, and audience is a way to generalize (or “other”) individual people. Marketing is manipulating people, and because we live in a capitalist society, it’s supposed to be ingrained in us that its okay. Really, what other way is there to make enough money to survive?

However, I can’t seem to do it when I try. You have to be consistent, selling yourself every single day, every chance you get, if you want to turn a profit. We do it with “likes” on social media, or even to get traffic (views) to my website. The ONLY reason that this website doesn’t have a larger following is because I suck at marketing. If I were to let everything go and really push this site, people would visit it daily and tell their friends about it and it would grow. And if I could do that, then self publishing would make sense because I would be able to cut out the middle man and sell my own book.

The possibility that I could some day do this is what prevents me from reaching out to a literary agent. Let’s face it, digital is the future and traditional publishing is a dying breed. Just like record labels, and cable TV, everything is going online.

I want two things from my memoir (and my writing in general)

I want it to be the best it can be. I want people to want to read it because they connect to my writing and enjoy the escape. I want people to look forward to my next book or my next article or whatever.

I also want to be able to not work a regular job and live off my writing. I don’t want to write things that I don’t want to write though, like working as a freelance writer, taking whatever writing job I can get to get by. I’d rather cut my dick off.

So I sit, still wondering what path to chose. Any suggestions would be appreciated. I need guidance from someone who has done it before. Thank you for reading.

Motivation, Musings, News and Updates

New Year’s Resolution


No Comments

This year I am going to finish my memoir and hopefully get it published!

I also want to get more viewers to my site, especially participants that will submit writing to me for my “What’s Your Story?” section.

Most importantly, I want to be happy and as stress free as possible. I put in some serious work in 2018 to lower my stress and I made it a good portion of the year being happy, but the last month started taking its toll on me and I can feel myself slipping backwards. I am fully aware of it and doing what I can to prevent myself from taking too many steps back. Sometimes a step back is necessary to move ahead, so I’m going to chalk it up to that and keep it moving.

Writing has been my outlet that has saved me from breaking. I always feel better, calmer, lighter, after writing. It feels so good to put my laptop screen down, signifying that I’m done for the moment, and knowing that I am one step closer to finishing this book. I can’t express the joy I feel in being proud of myself. It isn’t a feeling I’m familiar with. I’ve always downplayed my achievements because they weren’t things I cared about, just what I thought I should do. Writing this book is something I care about, and every day that I write, I still can’t believe that I’m actually doing it. If I can, anyone can, a tired cliche that I loathe myself for saying, but (again at the risk of sounding cliche) it is true. Ask anyone who knows me personally and they’ll tell you, I had the potential, but not the drive. But here I am, new year, 52,000 words deep in this memoir. I can’t be stopped and I can’t wait for you all to read it when it is done!

Happy New Year!

2019’s mantra is “Keep it light, Dutch. Keep it light.”

Musings

Goodbye 2018!


No Comments

I am glad that you’re over!

Why was 2018 so tough for everyone? For me it was the year of uncertainty. I felt stuck in life and complacency gives me anxiety like you wouldn’t believe. The problem was that I had to wait. For instance,

I took the firefighter’s exam in March. I had to wait for them to schedule the physical exam over the summer. Then I had to wait for results to come out. Though I am still waiting, I’m in the final phase, which is waiting for a job opening in my city! That could take years but because of my veteran status, I’m higher on the list. *fingers crossed*

I have to wait to purchase a home. I have the VA loan waiting for me, but I need a provable income and for 2018, my income was the GI Bill (Thanks Uncle Sam!). Unfortunately, though it was acceptable money to pay my bills, it isn’t acceptable money to take out a loan, so I was waiting to graduate, which I did this December! Look out 2019! I’m making moves this year.

I had to wait, again for the provable income, to refinance my car through my bank. The Honda dealership I went through got the best of me that day and I signed a horrible deal that I can’t wait to get out of. Once I have obtained provable income, which I am currently job searching for while I patiently await for my firefighting position, I will take out a loan from my bank, pay off my car, and have a much better deal to pay every month.

Most importantly, I had to wait to grow mentally and emotionally. I have spent too much of my life harboring anger inside, and though I am not perfect, I am far better at expressing myself. I used to hold it in and self destruct. I wasn’t much of the “lash-out” type, but more of the implosion, giving up, and making bad decisions type. I have been putting in work for years on this, but it still takes time to become habit, and I’ve been waiting to reach the point that I am at now, which, over the past few months, has allowed me to sit down and read and write daily. I love the person I have become.

I appreciate 2018 for its challenges and for the opportunities for growth, but I soooo look forward to sending it packing and welcoming in the new year!

2019, this one is mine.

new-year-2019-concept-royalty-free-image-1061655080-1543597602

Musings

The Hardest Part of Writing a Memoir


No Comments

It all comes down to one question. Did that really happen that way? Memory is a tricky thing. However, when writing a memoir, it is your job as an author to bring as much validity to the story as possible. We’ve all heard about that best selling author that turned out to be a liar. If I don’t remember this exactly the way it happened, will they call me a liar too?

Worrying about that prevented me from writing for a long time. Whenever I reached a moment of uncertainty, I stopped writing, and eventually gave up. It wasn’t until I had a conversation with a professor at my school that I was able to put that fear aside.

He told me that a memoir is called creative non-fiction for a reason. While we try to keep as close to the truth as possible, in the end, you’re writing a story. Readers don’t think of the character as you do, they see it as a character in a book. He urged me to see it the same. “It is a character based on you, with a story based on your life.”

That one simple sentence helped me to keep writing when things got foggy. Is my memoir entirely true? In a word, no. The events that took place are true, but most of the people’s names have been changed. Some of the details about where we were or which day could be off. Dialogue gets reconstructed, and though I try my best to keep it to the actually conversations that took place, I don’t remember every word that was said. I recall the essence of a conversation and that’s where I get creative.

Do any of these things prevent you from writing? Do you agree that creativity can be a part of a true story? Some people don’t and that’s okay too. However, I believe intentions matter when writing. If you intentionally fool your audience, then that’s fraud. If you do your best to recreate truth, but have to fill in some gaps, then that’s the thin line of acceptability.

 

Motivation, News and Updates

The First Draft is Done


2 Comments

Today is a very special day. I have finished my first draft of my memoir. It is just a skeletal outline of the whole story, but it give me a framework to work with. I have just over 50,000 words and 157 pages.

I have been taking notes along the way and already have at least another 30,000 words to add. So, I am a little ways away from being completely done, and like my professor told me in college, “When it comes to writing, nothing is ever done, just due.”

I can’t even begin to express how happy I feel about this. I never thought that I would actually do it. I have been talking about writing this memoir for a decade but didn’t sit down to do the important part…writing.

The only thing that kick started it was my final project for my master’s degree. I didn’t want to write a thesis paper, so I asked if I could do something more creative. They green lit the idea to write a sample of my memoir, then a 10 page paper “justifying” it. I had an adviser, Askold, that guided me through the process and read my work along the way, but most importantly, he gave me deadlines to adhere to.

After I finished the requirement for the project, I passed it in and received my passing grade, only to tuck away the memoir and not look at it again for almost a year.

I made a promise to myself that since I spent my twenties focusing on physical growth (I was skinny growing up so I hit the gym and kitchen hard), I would spend my thirties on intellectual growth. That meant more reading and writing. I wasn’t keeping that promise to myself until a few months ago when I read this quote that said, “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who can not.” That hit me hard for some reason.

I made a new morning routine that I still stick to. I wake up early everyday, and the first thing I do is make coffee and sit down at my computer and work on my memoir. I don’t have a word count that I must hit, but I average about 1000 words daily. Then, I read 25 pages of a book. Then, I write a blog post. That’s the routine and it has changed my world!

50,000 words, four 300-500 page books read in a just a few months. I can’t wait to see where I am in a few more.

Musings

The Day I Rapped For Ice-T


No Comments

ice-t

It was a day like any other in February of 2015 when I found out that the Legendary Ice-T would be coming to speak at my school. I was near the end of my two-year degree program at Bunker Hill Community College and nervous about what to do next. I hadn’t yet decided on furthering my education at Umass Boston.

The moment that I found out about the event, and its limited seating, I called and emailed everyone that I could think of at the school to get a ticket. I succeeded and patiently waited for the day to come.

I thought that it would be cool if I got to rap for Ice-T. I wondered which verse I would do if I got the opportunity. I picked out 3 of my favorites; that way I would have one ready for any mood. As a rap artist, I always came prepared to a show with multiple cds of instrumentals so I could gauge the temperature in the room and decide what performance would be best to give.

As the day grew closer, I got this determined feeling. I put it out into the universe. “It would be cool if..” turned into, “I am going to rap for Ice-T.” I practiced in my car constantly. I imagined the audience’s response. I pictured him saying, “That was so good that I am going to sign you right now!” I am a dreamer after all.

The day came. I sat in the auditorium, about mid-way up, a little right of center stage. I wore my Boston Bruins beanie, hoping the bright yellow would stand out. When Ice-T came out, I joined in the applause and enjoyed the speech he gave. I was surprised at how funny he was. His storytelling was amazing, and I had no idea that he was in the Army before his rap career. That decided it. I had a verse about PTSD and veteran suicide that I had written recently and figured it would be the best fit for the occasion.

After his speech, he said that he didn’t have much time so he could only take 3 questions. I shot my hand up in the air, I tried to lock eyes with Ice-T but he was looking at the other side of the auditorium. He called on a guy who asked general life advice.

He asked for another question. Again, I sat straight, arm raised high, eyes focused. He called someone else. I wasn’t going to give up.

Third and final question. “This one’s mine” i thought, but he called on a girl in the back. I felt defeated. I was so sure that I was going to get my chance. She said that she was an artist and drew him a picture and asked if he would like it. He was happy to accept, and then he said, “Well that wasn’t really a question so I’ll take one more.”

Without hesitation my arm when up. I leaned a little to the side to get an extra inch of height in my finger tips. I locked eyes with Ice-T, he saw me. I gave him a look that said, “Trust me, call on me.” He didn’t or couldn’t turn his eyes away and he said,

“The man in the Pittsburgh Penguins hat.”

I stood up and proudly said, “It’s a Bruins hat!”

He put his hands on his head, realizing where we were. “Of course!” he said.

I told him that I wanted to thank him for his service and that I was a big fan of what he’s done for Hip Hop. I said, “As a fellow veteran, and a rapper, I was wondering if I could rap for you?”

I could feel the audience’s smiles, some ready, some pre-judging.

“Yeah, go ahead. You better kill it though.” Ice said.

They brought me a microphone and I rocked it. We weren’t allowed to bring phones in, but somebody snuck a phone video here.

They cheered, Ice-T clapped and told me that he could tell that I rap for real and put in the work. I felt like the man. He didn’t sign me though.

For the rest of the day, I was a local celebrity. I was approached in the hallway for pictures and people asked about my music. It ended when I left to go home, but I will never forget that day and how great it felt to get a compliment from someone so established in the game.

They Boston Globe wrote a short piece about it here

What's Your Story?

What’s Your Story?


No Comments
Typewriter What is Your Story
Concept image with What is Your Story printed on an old typewriter

There is nothing I love more than great conversations with interesting people. What I’ve discovered over the years is that everyone is interesting, just some don’t believe it.

I want to know about your life. Truly. How many people will tell you that? Not many. I especially love the look on people’s faces when we talk and they realize that they are more interesting than they believed themselves to be.

I want to hear from you! The whole reason why I started RememoirMe was because of my fascination with memoirs and other people’s lives. I wanted to create a platform where people could share their stories. Now that the site is stable and has some consistent readers, I feel it is time to open it up!

Please, send me your story. If you’ve already written a memoir, or autobiography, then send me one story from it (maybe a chapter). I’ll read them and select one to share every week.

Send all submissions to: rj@rememoirme.com
please include your name, a brief introduction to the story, and a link to your website (if applicable).

I look forward to reading!

Musings

Don’t Tell me What to do


No Comments

Ever since I had my first job, I hated working. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind doing work, but I hate having to. It’s just my mentality that probably stems from my childhood. I have a severe problem with authority.

Having a job that you have to be on time to, day after day. That you have to request for time off, even when it is an emergency. Don’t even get me started on jobs that ask you to do more tasks than you were hired to do. If i’m a cashier, don’t ask me to unload a box or stock a shelf.

I don’t know what it is but it doesn’t just apply to work. Have you every said to someone, “Dude, you have to see this show!” or “You never read that book? It’s so good, you have to read it!” Guess what? No the fuck I don’t. And now, because I “have to” see it, or read it, or whatever it is you’re telling me I “have to” do, I promise you that I won’t.

You should see the looks I get when people find out that I’ve never seen nor read any of the Harry Potters.

I just watched Breaking Bad this year. I felt like the hype finally died down and nobody was telling me that I “had to” see it anymore, and I was bored, so I put it on Netflix. You know what? I liked it. But fuck you.

There’s no limit to my petty when it comes to authority. I dare you to tell me that I have to see your kid’s new talent.

I love chocolate ice cream, but if you bought some new brand and went to your freezer like, “OMG you have to try this ice cream, it’s the best!” There is a good chance I’ll tell you that I’m lactose intolerant. Then, I’ll harbor resentment because I wanted some but not because I have to. I eat ice cream on my terms. Fuck face.

It could be argued that I spent three years being homeless because my dad told me that I had to babysit. Obviously there was other stuff built into it, but that was the conversation that tipped the scales.

Just do me a favor. Don’t tell me what to do. I’ll never tell you either. Ask and you shall receive, but the moment you make demands is the moment you decided to be cut out of my life forever. Which is your loss. I’m pretty cool otherwise.

queenfingers

News and Updates

100 Pages


No Comments

I have officially passed the 100 page mark for my memoir. I never would have dreamed that I would find the discipline to sit down and write this book. I had the idea nearly a decade ago, and I wrote a few pages here and there, but I have made it my goal to sit down and finish this project once and for all!

I am thankful to my friends that have been helping me along with encouragement and feedback. I can’t even describe in words how much it means to me.

The more I write, the more I believe I am a writer. I have fallen back in love with my passion and I hope you all enjoy it when it is finished!

100 pages and counting!

IMG_20181215_095941

Musings

How To Write a Mean Letter


No Comments

Dear _____,

I hope you’re having a day as terrible as your breath. How don’t you notice that you’ve consumed nothing but coffee and cigarettes for the past four hours? We all talk about it, but I’m on to you. I think you know. I think you do it on purpose as a little social experiment. You’re trying to see how gross you can be in the office and still get away with it aren’t you? Well, not anymore! I am writing this letter to tell you that your breath is so bad that it makes me want to light a match and burn off my own taste buds. (I hear those are necessary for smell). I have taken the liberty of including a care kit for your breath with this letter. Enclosed you will find a tooth brush, tooth paste, Listerine, and Listerine strips. Please use them immediately, and especially when you need to speak with me directly. Otherwise, contact me via email or text message.

Down-wind and ready to vomit,

(Your Name Here)