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Writing for other people.

               This article may upset some people that I know, but I feel that it needs to be said. As a writer many of you may have come across this statement from people that are friends or co-workers. They say something along the lines of. “Man, I should have a book written about my life.” I used to roll my eyes hearing this statement because it is very pretentious. 

               I manage a hotel and had a maintenance man that worked for the hotel utter this statement to me one day when we had a few beers after work. Background on this man, at the time of this article he is about 35, he is skinny, short, and uneducated. At sixteen his father gave him a choice; he could work harder in school or he could find himself a bridge to sleep under.

                Many young men clash with authority it happens; it is part of growing up. Most teens take a step back, change friends and try harder. This guy I am speaking about picked the bridge, he lived homeless for years, racked up poor dental and personal hygiene, drug issues and on top of it all a felony record. He eventually sort of straightened himself out, got a job at this hotel where he showed up roaring drunk to half his shifts and eventually was fired for walking into the hotel restaurant in only his boxers, apparently he was trying to fire some of the bartenders for an argument over a parking spot.  

                This man wanted a book written about him, and I laughed at the time I am also chuckling having to write about him now, but I am summing up his life in a few hundred characters. When he told me why he thought his life would make a good book I was dumbfound. I bluntly told him that lots of people are homeless, and many over come it, it doesn’t make for an interesting story to describe how a person goes from rock bottom to above the surface. Especially when they describe the life on the streets as total freedom and fun. He enjoyed begging, stealing, and doing drugs. If he wanted to write a book about that he is welcomed to try, but it would end up as 4,000 words of nothing.

                 I have come across another person that wants a book written about him. He is a great guy, he has made enormous strides to overcome his past and is ashamed that he served time. I gently told him prisoners write books about themselves all the time, whatelse are they going to do. I didn’t want to be cruel to my friend. But individuals getting beat up in jail or committing crimes isn’t interesting, then again if they commit the crime of the century or it is something different than a story about Johnny A reforming himself or getting abused by the system it could sell. Green Mile, Prison Break and Shawshank had elements that made them unique.

                Which brings us to the main point I am trying to make, that is a book written about one person from their perspective is boring and played. Also, you will never finish a story like that, unless you are being paid to do so. Even then it is enough to hang yourself from a chain in your garage.

                Two years ago a local businessman approached me and asked if I would write a book about him. He ran three restaurants in town all Asian themed. One was successful, the other two were ghosts towns, the service was poor, and I always found the food wanting. Still he was a nice man, and he was riddled with cancer, so I said what the heck. He and I entered into a contract for a biography, I was paid for expenses up front, my contract stated that he would not receive unmarked copies of the manuscript until I was paid in full. I gave a timeline of 14 weeks. I thought I only needed 12, I finished in 10. That is because his life was empty, I am also like a hound on a scent, once I start working I don't stop.

              Truthfully, I could have titled the book How to Fail in Business and Somehow Succeed. I interviewed him to understand his life. To sum him up in a few sentences. I never thought I could meet someone so stingy. He never liked to pay employees, he kept a list of employees that were push overs and next to their name he kept I tab of how much he had stiffed them. At the end of the year he used to call it his bonus and he would write it off on one of the failing businesses. That is why he wants three locations. For starters, the first location isn’t successful, it appears that way, then he cycles the employees around. Even the customers suffered as he bought beer from shady sources, most of the time the beer was two weeks from expiration. I know a dozen employees that were stiffed thousands of dollars and given promises that were lies.

             So, you may wonder what happened to this wonderfully evil man, well thankfully his cancer spread to his stomach and COVID-19 shutdowns swallowed his businesses. As for our arrangement, I finished his book, he stiffed me as the spiteful jelly he is, he even tried some legal push to acquire & publish the book. Unfortunately for him I am ruthless in certain aspects and I reminded him that I just wrote a book of lies of his life, but he made the mistake when he let me know where the bodies were buried.  Before we parted ways, I let him in on the title of the real book I would publish under along with three changes I would make. In the end he left me alone and went off to die. You see things always have a way of working out, don’t let anyone, even someone who has given you money push you around. The moral of this story that you should stick to writing stories you like, and you will find much more satisfaction in the work. Thank you for reading check back soon for a new post.