In October 2008, I made a personal declaration to be a writer. But that was kind of vague so I expanded it into a proclamation: I will write a book and be a published author within the year. Now I had clarity and a worthy goal.
Over the years, I had accumulated a compilation of short stories and a collection of poems and now it time to take inventory. I could turn one of my short stories into a novel or I could I write about my most memorable experiences and make it biographical.
What about genre, point of view and character development… what about the setting, the dialogue and story structure? I was getting really excited because I could create anything.
I wrote outline after outline. I have dozens of story ideas. But this was going to be my first real book and it had to be special. Really special.
In December ’08, it hit me: I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the many inspirations in my life: my friends, family and mentors. Through their life lessons I have grown and gained wisdom. Who is going to tell their story? I know… I will.
I was going to interview some of my mentors and share the inspiration they had given me. The twist was that it was going to be written in interview form so that the reader would feel involved with the conversation… as if they were sitting besides me and I was asking the questions they would ask.
It snowballed from there. I enlisted my twenty-something nephew, Justin R. Hill, a talented writer and artist, to be my editor and assist me with this task and he recommended some more candidates for the book.
We set an arbitrary deadline because they work. Creating deadlines provides for goal setting and being able to measure results. Three months from January 15th, this book would be completed. Then we worked backwards to fill in our goals.
I could interview three people a week and transcribe from a voice recorder then send it to Justin by the end of the each week. Within five weeks I would have interviewed fifteen people and have more than enough material to sort out for the final stretch.
The transcribing was very time consuming and if I rushed it… the writing would have to be rewritten. It began to connect. I really had to pay attention and commit to evoking the emotion that was conveyed during the interview so it would come through in the writing. It was about being present and aware.
After that there were three weeks of more writing. I wrote in my free time in between work and all day on the weekends. If you love what you do then it isn’t work. The book began to materialize and we realized it’s purpose: it was about ordinary people being extraordinary.
Next, we studied different publishing options and chose to self publish. We got a book template for word documents and created the skeleton for our book. Ten pages of a written word document equaled about eighteen pages in the book format. I was told by another author to keep the book around two hundred pages for multiple reasons that he explained.
By our second month, our book was nearly done. We had a proof ready for final edit and called it: Real Life Interviews. We just needed to add our table of contents, cover art and post scripts.
By April 15th 2009, we were done. My editor, Justin and I published our book and made a website for it within three months. Everything fell into place and we made our deadline!
In appreciation for all the mentoring and inspirations that were bestowed upon us, we chose to make this a charity endeavor. It only made sense. It was a joy to proclaim that we created a book.
It was even a greater joy to share the insights of the people I interviewed. And this left me inspired to write more… and cherish the results.
– Russell Hill
author of Real Life Interviews