A: Outside of work, I hang out with my family when they let me. My wife Ginny has been a nurse for years. So she helps real people, while as a writer, I spend a lot of time making up stories about imaginary people. So clearly she does the tough work — as women in this world always have. We have two kids, both 24 — strangely, they were born two minutes apart — twins I believe is the formal biological term. My son Harlowe is a talented visual artist and his sister Bridget is an aspiring writer and lover of all things literary. I have been an avid pop culture consumer forever: books & ball games; movies & music; stage & small screen productions.
A: I began my career as a content developer in earnest when I was in my 20s. As a graduate student, one of my short stories called White Rats was selected as Story of The Year by the International English Honor Society. I learned that the acclaimed writer Nikki Giovanni was the final judge. I wasn’t really familiar with her at the time, but when I learned more about her, I was so honored to have had her approval conferred upon my work. She is a poetess extraordinaire, a long-time civil rights activist, and simply a remarkable human being. In fact, some years ago Oprah Winfrey named her on her list of 25 Living Legends. And she’s still living, and still doing her thing! I have corresponded with her a couple of times over the years and saw her as featured speaker on MLK Day at the U of Rochester some years back. One of the most dynamic speakers I’ve ever heard. But that story and that experience helped solidify in my mind that I would always make writing a part of my life.
A: I’ve had the chance to work on a number of independent feature film productions as a content developer from scripts I’ve written or co-written over the years. Seeing the whole process evolve and the many various talents that need to come together — from the acting to the technical aspects to the support infrastructure involved — has produced great memories. But probably my favorite memory is that my daughter and I collaborated on a children’s book first published about ten years ago: S.O.S.: Save Old Santa. My daughter had the idea when she was about six years old, and after some years, we worked with a talented artist Peter Botsis and a local arts organization, MOKA, run by Michelle Cardulla (publisher of Lake Affect Magazine), that published the book. I’ve recently collaborated with an Emmy-nominated composer and we’re putting together a musical for children’s theatre of the work. So stay tuned!
A: Working with Steven James Media Group has literally changed my career (and I use the word ‘literally’ in its original meaning — you know, before my daughter and her friends have changed it to mean ‘figuratively.’) Along with my writing, I was an educator for many years, but when my friend and film producer and managing partner of SJMG Jim Pavone offered me the opportunity to help him grow this company, I couldn’t pass on the chance. It’s been a fantastic ride. And like writing and teaching, being a content writer and project manager constantly exposes you to new people, new ideas, and new perspectives on the world.
A: One thing I’ve learned over the years as a content developer is that nobody has a definitive answer or magic bullet on how to approach the creative process. Their way may not be your way. That being said, in general, if you want to be an artist or professional of any kind, set aside dedicated time — find a sacred structure and nurture it, grow it, & protect it — because forces will most assuredly attempt to encroach upon it. Revel in the knowledge that EVERYTHING you do & experience feeds your work; find others with passion that inspires you…and don’t throw old ideas and incomplete projects away! Above all else remember everything I just said might be total crap and not work at all for you…as a decent writer named Willie Shakespeare wrote in a piece he called ‘Hamlet’: “To Thine Own Self Be True.” But also remember that Polonius had that line, and he was a conniving old buzzard that Hamlet ended up murdering. And Shakespeare may not have really been Shakespeare, so who knows? But although I have never fully lived up to it, I still roll with To Thine Own Self Be True as best I can.