I’ve always been a voracious reader. I own a hundred times more books than I do CD’s. I am a big fan of mysteries and literature. Love Michael Chabon, Elizabeth George, John Updike,William McIlvanney, Elmore Leonard. Evan Hunter/ Ed McBain is someone I knew very well back when I was seventeen. He encouraged me to pursue my music and gave me faith through his own personal history -from the Bronx (like me), the son of humble immigrant parents, gone on to become one of the biggest selling authors of all time- that anything was possible.
Around 2004, my wife and I sold our apartment, closed our offices, and hit the road. (More about that in later posts). As we experienced one astonishing encounter after another, I felt compelled to write about them. The more I wrote, the more in tune with my inner self I felt.
I sent travelogues back to the States from China, Tasmania, Australia, Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, small islands no one’s ever heard of, you name it, we were there. Each tale was around four hundred words. They were meant to be foolish. Meant to amuse. The response was very satisfying. They were cracking everybody up. People back home kept asking for more.
My cousin, Ken Kalfus, is a writer. Big time stuff. This year, he was awarded with a Guggenheim Fellowship, just one of his many accolades. Among other things, he is an occasional book critic for The New York Times. One day he tells me I’m funny and I should write a book. So I asked, “How do you do that?” He advised me to “start it and finish it.” Well, ok, then.
So I wrote my book. Worked on it for a year until the first draft was finished. Next, I found an editor on Craig’s List. For a tidy sum, she worked on the manuscript with me for another year. When it was completed, I hired another editor to offer a different perspective. I rewrote it with him for one more year.
I was then referred by an agent, who liked the manuscript but felt it was not ready for publication, to a third editor. This editor told me the book’s main character did not seem credible. I spent 8 months changing the main character, and after that I felt like I had something pretty good. Next, I hired a copy editor to format it properly. Her work added another 6 months to the process. When she finished, I felt really good about what I had. I liked the story, but I especially liked the voice. It felt unique and righteous.
After that, it was something of a piece of cake. Got an agent and a publisher. The publisher and I spent a year on a re-write and then voilá! Humpty Dumpty Was Pushed was finally complete.
The inspiration for me, in the end, was my love for the act of writing. I enjoy delving into the process and amusing myself with my mental flights of fancy. It is an adventure, an exploration of the mind. I guess I like adventures.