How did you find the time?

My book, The Happenstances at the Yellow County Community Swim and Racquet Club the Summer Before Last, has been out for just over a month now.  It's been so cool to see pictures on social media of people with my book at the pool or at the beach, or tagging me saying "I just got your book!"  I've sold my book to a couple people in person and they've asked me to sign it, which is crazy.  I've had a couple conversations about the book with coworkers and family and podcasters and an interviewer for a web show.  It's awesome!  And it's especially cool because I really believe in the book.  I've created a lot of content and Happenstances is what I'm most proud of so far in my content creating career.

I work in television production and a question that invariably comes up is "How did you find the time to write a book?!"  Coworkers say they would like to write or make a film or this hobby or that and they're amazed that I completed a thing.  My answer to their question is always that I didn't "find the time to write a book"...

I made the time.

I got it into my head that I was going to adapt my screenplay into a young adult novel and then for the next couple of years I chipped away at it, an hour here, 30 minutes there.  Believe me, if I had looked at as a full task I would have been overwhelmed, but I looked at it as a process.

That's what I'm doing with the next book.  I'd love to set a deadline and write X amount of pages per day and all the sorts of things you read in the "how to write" books.  

But currently, with a 4 year old son, another son on the way, a 50+ hour a week job, promoting the first book, and everything else that pops up in life just being an adult human, I can't think about the next book in a traditional way.

So for me, right now, I'm happy to get a few moments a week, probably after my son is asleep, and probably while my pregnant wife is binge watching "Friends" and my pug is probably snoring somewhere on the carpet that she blends in with, to chip away at that next book.

Am I normal?

Today I heard two opposing views on approaching life.  One, a coworker, who I know is passionate in another area besides the thing he gets paid to do for 10+ hours a day, 5 days a week, the other from a celebrity who is a top performer in her sport.

The coworker was bemoaning that possibly next week we'll probably have to stay late to finish a project.  He said that he has other priorities, he hopes he gets paid overtime, and at his age (not very old at all) he has lost the edge that he once had for going the extra mile, building his reputation, etc.

The celebrity, she's an athlete, said that literally she wants to be the best at her sport ever, and pays a team of people to take her out of her comfort zone daily in order to reach that goal.

I'm not sure if either of these viewpoints would necessarily have made a huge impact on me separately, but they came in such rapid succession that they really hit me.

Hearing my coworker I thought: I get it, it sucks to not get to see your kid at night, it sucks to work overtime and lose sleep, it sucks to have a passion in something and not get to make your living in that field.  

But that's natural.  That's normal.

Hearing the celebrity-athlete I thought wow (besides every single rapper) I've never heard someone say "I want to be the best ever" and be serious and not actually be that far off arguably. 

It made me want to work harder at my day job, my writing, being a daddy/husband, being healthy.  Because like I said, the former viewpoint is normal, but being willing to sacrifice is abnormal.  

I think I want to be abnormal.

A day in the life

My morning commute to work currently takes so long that the weather changes dramatically from the time I doop-doop open my car door to when I roll down my window to scan my parking card.  I'm talking maybe thirty degrees.  And I only live a baker's dozen miles from the office where I currently work.  But that's the deal.

Some days as I'm crawling up the hill, like if Sisyphus had to take the 405 to work too, I hope that I'm living my origin story, my Act One, where the average guy is doing the mundane stuff that should really only last for a couple pages at the top and then some inciting incident grabs him out of his routine and thrusts him into the meat of his movie.  I'm hoping Happenstances is that thing.

Then I get to work and I get to make television, and meet awesome, creative people.  The drive home is not so bad, especially due to the daylight savior who bequeathed us with another hour of sunlight, so even though I still miss the sun setting, the night has not completely muscled the day aside and the sky is a pretty shade of, as Jack's Mannequin might say: dark blue.  When I get home to my wife and my son and my pug my life is extraordinary, #blessed.  

Then at night, after Christian has heard once again what was on the menu for that particularly hungry caterpillar, when Summer is snoring somewhere, and Ashlea is sipping tea on the couch, watching one hour dramas about vampires or teens or vampire teens, the laptop is cracked open.

Busy Pete is a Better Writer

As I was riding my bike last night, pondering, I had some thoughts that I clumsily told my wife when I got home.  I thought I'd try here though, to clearly state something that I think is important.

There's a way of thinking, and I don't want to call it a "common misconception" because maybe it is the truth for some, that you can/should put your family life on hold while you move up in your career.  Or someone who had a child or got married young may look back at their life and think that they could have been so much more successful if they had only not had that kid or married that person.

I admit that I've had the latter thought before at times, like where could I be if I was 'Single Pete'.  But last night I realized that I was wrong.

I got married to Ash at 23 and we had Christian when I was 25, so we weren't babies having babies, but we were relatively young for my peer group.  And I've thought in the past that if I didn't have the responsibilities of being a husband, dad, co-money-provider/ co-bill-payer, that I could have more time to write, more chances to network, more time to produce sketch comedy videos and take UCB classes and such.  Which is true, sure, but...

Having less time to devote to writing has made me a better writer.  'Single Pete' would have the luxury of being able to dawdle, write a couple pages here and there. 'Busy Pete', I'll refer to my current self as, has to be laser-focused every writing session.  Before my writing sessions were watered down lemonade, today they're frozen concentrate.  Take those babies out of the freezer, add water (or booze) and start cranking.

But besides that, the support that Ash has given me has been the single most propelling thing in my writing life.  She's read all my stuff.  She's my biggest cheerleader.  She's believed in me when I haven't.  I wouldn't be about to have Happenstances published without her.

In my life, being married young-ish and growing with Ash has been the best thing.  And Christian is a constant source of joy, and often times hilarious anecdotes.

So, thanks Ash and Christian.  

Love, Pete