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Saturday, May 10, 2008

In order to grow you have to be open to learn

Earlier this week, I was asked why I decided to publish Post through a print-on-demand outlet. As much as I would have liked for the book to be readily available in stores once it comes out, it's going to have to wait a bit. Since the book is non-returnable to the publisher (cause the publisher is technically me), bookstores are hesitant to carry such. Frankly, if you ask me, I'd personally give my home address to bookstores if they wanted to return unsold copies somewhere. But I don't think that will be the case.

Is this frustrating? Sure. But for me, I'd rather have the book I imagined (and made) in print and available in some capacity (even if Amazon and Barnes and Noble are the only ones that will carry it online). It was either that or have something readily available that I felt severely compromised over. I've been told that's the game of being published, but for me, this was a kind of compromise I was not up for making.

My experience with shopping around Post's manuscript generated a few interested editors at name publishing houses. The few that were interested liked the topic, but wanted me to drastically change the book. With one place, I got the sense they wanted a simple pop culture book. Another place wanted all the crucial music scenes be grouped together, sort of like the American Hardcore book. Basically what I heard was this: take out the human interest stuff (it's boring), give us something that's closer to our vision (but you and your name only appears on the book's cover), and then resubmit your book proposal. Well, that would have been easy had I not interviewed anybody for the book or done any research yet.

But at that point, I had three years worth of research and interviews under my belt. I pitched my book in a specific way to everyone I interviewed. I couldn't go back on my word by twisting the book into something else. Plus, I really believed in the story I wanted to tell (and how to tell it). I'm not against changes in general, but the changes suggested just did not jive with what I wanted Post to be.

The deal was, I had heard this kind of story before. Almost all of my all-time favorite movies could have become something completely safe, uninspired, and weak hadn't the screenwriters stuck to their guns. I thought about George Lucas and his trials and tribulations with hammering out the American Graffiti script. No major studio wanted to touch it -- and one rewrite of the script by another writer made it to be more like Two Lane Blacktop. Lucas stuck to what he wanted and luckily got it made the way he wanted.

The same went with Jon Favreau and the Swingers script. He was asked to change the setting of the film, make it more violent and other things that just didn't make it what he wanted. Deciding to film it independently and raising money for it in a unique way (holding live script readings for potential investors), Swingers is what Favreau wanted it to be.

And another example was when Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky were asked to take the therapy sessions out of Some Kind of Monster. Various circumstances occurred to where they were kept in, and the film speaks for itself as being a one of a kind documentary.

Now, I'm not comparing myself or Post to the caliber of these writer/directors. Rather, it's the sense of sticking to what you want and being unafraid to release it as you envisioned it. Post is not a hard read or an inside read, but it's not for everybody. It's something for people that were involved and weren't involved with this genre. It's not really a "music" book per se. It doesn't matter whether you've heard Hot Water Music's No Division or not. It's about life, struggle, friendship, expressing yourself, being creative, overcoming obstacles, and most importantly, learning.

Looking at what I've done with this project and where this could all go, the learning part is probably the most important part.

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