(Scroll down to see the Full Length Episode)
Journalist & Communicator Talk with Davis Sheremata
Davis Sheremata is a former journalist and speechwriter living in Calgary. A professional communicator, he is also writer and producer of the upcoming Simultaneous fiction series.
Journalists research, investigate, interpret and communicate news and public affairs through newspapers, television, radio and other media. They are employed by radio and television networks and stations, newspapers and magazines. Journalists may also work on a freelance basis.
The job prospects vary across Canada and the US.
University education is usually required.
$38.64/hour Median Wage
$23.09/hr – Median wage in Canada
(Visit the jobbank.gc.ca Canadian Website For Most Recent Numbers)
Full Length Episode:
Complete Episode Transcript
Today’s guest is Davis Sheremata.
Here’s our Job Talk with a journalist and communicator.
Welcome to the Job Talk Podcast.
Where we talk to people who love their jobs.
Our guests open up about their challenges surprises and secrets to success in their industries.
Through conversation we explore their careers past work experiences and the education that got them to where they are now.
Davis, I’m going to take you back in time to when you were graduating from high school, did you know exactly what you wanted to do in life, career wise? I had no clue whatsoever.
Kim, I, I grew up in northern Alberta and I graduated from school and my goal at that time was to get a law degree and then never practice and work as a richly credentialed bartender in the service industry.
That was my goal.
It was not a clearly defined one at all.
What kind of student were you in high school moving into university I was not bad in high school.
I was I saw certain bad habits beginning to manifest themselves of procrastination and rushing to do a project and needing to rely on being having a flash of insight and brilliance as opposed to an accumulation of hard work resulting in the success of a project that still continues sadly manifest itself to this day in one form or another.
But it was.
Yeah, it was.
You can safely say that I was I did not have a richly set out career path that would have resulted in long term satisfaction.
So you graduated from high school, I’m guessing, with fairly decent marks.
Where did you go to what was your first post-secondary experience? I went to the I enrolled in the I want as you know, like I said, I want to be a lawyer.
And so what I did was I you I went to the University of Alberta and I enrolled in the in the Bachelor of Arts program with an English major and a philosophy minor.
And I mean, this was at that time, it was in the late 1980s, and Alberta’s economy was not doing well.
You know, we were still in quite a recession and a just a bachelors degree was regarded at that time is pretty much the kiss of death for a career and rendering you pretty much unemployable.
And so it was kind of understood at that time by me and my friends in the program that we would need to continue on to take a get a second degree in something to be able to have really any shot at a at a meaningful career.
But I found myself after about four and a half years deciding that school was over, that I, I didn’t want to practice as a lawyer and I didn’t really want to go to law school.
I needed to think of something else and so I kind of bailed, wound up with a three year degree, not a, not a four year degree, a three year general degree, which was still available in those days.
And then left school with no idea what to do.
And I wound up getting a summer job that my parents helped me get at the Alberta Legislature as a summer student working for the government caucus, just basically as and as an office assistant.
And so I did that for three months.
And then September rolled around and I had no idea what to do.
And so I went back home and was trying to trying to think of what to do.
And this was this was one of the decisive moments in my life because I grew up in a little community called Grassland which is sort of halfway between Edmonton and Fort McMurray in central Alberta.
And there was a large industrial project, the Alberta Pacific pulp mill, coming in and they were looking to employ a certain number of people from the community.
And I was kind of told that, you know, I read, you know, a university education of whatever quality and that if I wanted to apply, I’d have a shot at getting a job and I really was.
I and my parents told me, like, you know, you don’t need to you don’t need to stay here forever.
But this is this is good, meaningful employment.
It’ll get you started on the way.
And I kind of knew at that moment that if I stayed, I was going to wind up buying an expensive vehicle getting a girlfriend or at least hopeful, optimistic that I had, reasonably optimistic that I would and that, you know, you tend to stay where you are.
And I was really concerned.
I mean, at that point, I was like 22 years old.
And so what I did was I, I wound up kind of heading back to the city and crashing on a friend’s sofa while I tried to figure out what I was going to do.
Being, you know, not especially employable.
And I thought I was going to wind up pumping gas or something and then the MLA that I worked for, who represented the Athabasca activist constituency, the late Mike Cardinal, went up calling and saying a job had opened up in the mailroom at the legislature and what I like to apply.
And so I did it.
And that basically enabled me to stay in to get a foothold in Edmonton, making very.
At the time I was and I was told by the chief of staff I would make 1700 dollars a month.
And that seemed to me to be at that time an absolute king’s ransom.
It enabled you to live on your own.
And so I did it for a couple of years and I wound up, I knew some speechwriters there at the time and they wound up saying, you know, why don’t you why don’t you try this as a job? You know, you have an English background.
They’d seen some little messages.
I said, so I wrote a few a couple of speeches and communications basically on spec after hours in on the computer in the mailroom.
And that wound up being enough to let them give me a shot as a speechwriter, which I did for three years.
And that really got me got me a foothold.
And it was kind of exhilarating at that time.
If a person hasn’t been to their legislature or the the House of Commons, you’ve got obviously the legislators sitting on the floor and you’ve got the speaker’s gallery up top.
And the first time I sat in the Speaker’s gallery and and not the speaker’s gallery, the public gallery looking down as and as a representative was reading your words and they were being read into Hansard and that they would live there was really quite a quite an exciting experience and at the time I was a I was a firebrand well, not a firebrand, but a young, pretty liberal.
And I was working for the government caucus at that time, which was something that I was not politically aligned with at all.
And it was really interesting working in a not entirely congenial environment with very long hair and as you know, which was not representative of them at that time.
And just sitting there, it was a very unusual experience.
It was a great start to the career and walking into the legislature in the morning, you know, in the in the rotunda there in Edmonton, it was it was just really cool.
I really enjoyed it.
I consider it to be a great start to my career.
I was just going to mention.
So you’re a writer, you’re writing speeches.
Did you ever have an idea that you wanted to become the politician that was was saying the words rather than being the person in the background, being the writer? Never. Never.
It is a it’s a very challenging life.
Being a politician.
You need to you you need to be a great balancer.
You need to speak.
You need to know when to speak.
Genuine in generously and disingenuously.
And the other thing I learned was that it was very clear.
I told myself, if you want to work in this profession after the age of 30, you need to be open to the idea of running for office.
And I never had I never had any desire to run for office.
And I had no illusions about my electability either in terms of my ability to get people to vote for me.
So that was just never an option.
So leaving was a was a good that was always going to happen.
And so and also it’s politics is an extremely uncertain business.
And I saw people that I knew who had been there in the, you know, for 20, 25 years and suddenly, you know, the light in the room changed, the environment changed.
And they were gone through no fault of their own.
It was a it’s an incredibly uncertain way to make a living.
And it was nothing I ever really I had no illusions about staying in there for the long term.
And so I wound up leaving, you know, or being told to go when I was about 28 years old with enough of a settlement to enable me to get a foothold in another thing.
And I knew I wanted at that point to be a journalist.
I mean, you had the journalist and the journalist gallery and the journalists in the press gallery, the legislature.
I looked at them, they were like rock stars.
And there were some really good writers there.
And I thought it would be really, really cool to do.
And so even when I was a speechwriter, once again I started doing the next job on spec and so I volunteered for writing for free with this very small inner city paper called The Boyle McCauley Muse, which I’m not sure is still running anymore.
It was just there was just two or three very passionate staff that were working for free.
And it was one guy who was mimeographed it in his in his office.
And this is like I said, this is located in the inner city of Edmonton, so very much serving the inner city community.
And I called them and they said, Yeah, no problem at all.
And so, yeah, my first my first ever journalism story, And so, yeah, my first my first ever journalism story, I still have a copy of it.
It was on the front page and I was covering, I think, like a flea market or something.
And I was walking around reviewing the booths and the food, and I took it very, very seriously.
I tried to taste everything and then wrote, you know, 600 words on.
And they ran it on the front page and, um, and it was, it was, it was really cool.
And they ran it on the front page and, um, and it was, it was, it was really cool.
So I did that for, for a while.
And then when I left the legislature, I wound up working for, I got ah, I contacted I think a seniors an Edmonton seniors newsletter and seeing if they would let me write for them and they said, yeah, and we’ll pay you $0.05 a word.
Um, which seemed like a if a king’s ransom, but was not very much at all.
So I did a few stories for them and then a, um, I, a friend of mine worked with um, a company that was doing advertising and they kind of signed me on for a few months to sell and write ads and write a few feature articles so I did that and that kind of enabled me to get a foothold.
And then so I was basically working as a freelancer, not making a lot.
And then a the same friend said to me that he had heard about a history book project that was being done by a, a magazine called Alberta Report, which has a fairly notorious reputation you know, a very right wing publication and not one that I agreed with very much, quite frankly.
And they had a they were doing a I believe was called Alberta in the 20th century.
So they were going decade by decade writing a book about about the history of Alberta.
And he said they were looking for writers.
So I contacted them and they said, yeah, we’d be interested in in, you know, have, you know, come in and talk to us and but then they said, we’re not interested in really having you do that because you’ve got political experience.
Who would be interested in covering politics for us? And I had no other options at the time.
So that was kind of kind of where I went with a very long story.
I do apologize.
I’m going to say one more thing, if I may.
And you may need to edit this down for for context but I also had the biggest disappointment of my professional career because when I was selling the ads, I wound up going out one night with the guy who ran the advertising company and at the table that we were hanging out at was the current.
At that time, I think the editor in chief of Canadian Geographic magazine, which I’m not sure is going anymore, but, you know, a really cool publication writing about, you know, land and culture in Canada.
And we wound up hanging out and um, my then-girlfriend and I went on a trip for a couple of weeks to Europe.
And when I got back, the head of the advertising agency said to me, Hey, this editor called you, and they’re looking for a reporter to write for Canadian Geographic, and he thought of you, but I meant to give you the message like a long time ago.
And so I called the guy and he said, Yeah, you would have been perfect, but we filled it.
And so right at the beginning of my journalism career was a chance for a staff job with a great publication writing for a monthly and it boom fell in the ground.
So my, my journalism career started with an absolutely abject soul killing disappointment, which I’m feeling right now.
As I say, I have mostly recovered from What is your personality like? You mentioned you were a speechwriter in politics, and then you you started to transition into being a journalist. Why? You could easily I don’t want to use the word settle, but you could stay in that career for 30 years.
What is it about you that you’re continuing to to build and go into the next phase? Well, you know, when when I grew up, you thought of your parents careers as being you did the same job for 35 years with the same people and it was very stable and everything.
And my generation was, I think the first one where you began to understand that you would not, that that kind of employment was unusual.
Hard to come, you know, hard to come by.
And if you weren’t careful, could wind up being, you know, as much of a prison as an opportunity. And I you know, I tried to be really, really aware of, you know, needing to to kind of keep moving and keep developing.
And I wound up working as a freelancer for about five years, mostly for Alberta Report.
But I had you know, my byline appeared in Maclean’s a couple of times in Reader’s Digest a couple of times, which is kind of cool.
But it was a very, very uncertain lifestyle.
And my real dream at that time was to work for a daily and really, really chronicle the, you know, the, the the news of the day in a in a breaking fashion and, and really keep that, you know, really be that.
And I thought that would be that would be the thing I would want to do for the rest of my career.
And I wound up getting a call from the from a guy with the Edmonton Sun saying, you know, we got an opening, why don’t you apply? And so I started doing that.
I think I was 20, 32 years old, and I thought, I’ve arrived, I’m going to do this forever.
And I found the rigors of being a daily journalist were incredibly challenging because you were showing up for work and you had no idea what you were going to be doing.
You know, you might be you you know, you could wind up at a, you know, the scene of a murder at the, you know, at a at a government office covering a press conference, at a sporting event.
And you really had no idea.
And so I had to put in a mental exercise, whereas I was walking up to the stairs, to the newsroom every day.
I would have to make my mind a complete blank.
So I was ready for whatever.
And that was I found that after a couple of years of doing that, I was it was it was it was really not for me.
And the other thing is, is that you have no control over what you’re doing.
You know, the external world is deciding what you’re going to be doing.
And talking about that day. And that was that was really challenging.
But it was good for my writing because I learned you could write two or two or three stories a day if you had to and get them in on time and you learn to write clearly and quickly.
And so that was a that was a that was a big that was a big get for me.
When you’re writing for a newspaper, are you applying a formula to each story or how does how does that work? Well, you kind of know, right? You know, that’s one of the great things about a newspaper column, which is that you you need to have in the in the basically the first paragraph.
You know, who did what, why, when, where and how and why people should care.
And so you you learned to be really, really clear.
And you try to you know, as as as you know, when you get decent at it as people are talking and you’re and you’re you’re reporting on the story, you’re already writing it in your head and someone say, you know what the first quote is going to be, what the second quote is going to be, who’s going to provide a counterargument, what the fact, you know, and so it lays out you’re kind of laying it out and then it’s just basically a matter of typing it out really, really fast.
And so, yeah, you’re kind of doing it.
There were people who are better at it than I was, obviously, but it was yeah, it’s something it definitely comes down to.
I don’t want to say a formula, but certainly a familiar format.
And the biggest thing I learned, which is that you never put key information in the last couple of paragraphs because when a story goes into layout, you basically are told you have this many lines and the format time I think was 51 or 31.
So, you know, a story, a banner story at the top was 51 lines.
But you also knew that sometimes new information would come in at 8:30 and the layout would change.
And often one of the ways they’d make room was by chopping paragraphs out of the end of your story.
So if you had an important piece of context framing framing the way things were going to go, you had to not put it in the bottom because that tended to be cut out.
And so just certain things like that, you, you kind of learned how to do.
Would you say and this might sound harsh.
Were you burned out when you left The Sun? God, I was totally I was totally freaked out.
I was like, this is this is not for me.
I had covered covered too much.
You’re you’re kind of running on the line.
I’d covered a couple of crime stories.
I’d have a couple of death threats by that point.
And, you know, 11 former MLA I worked worked out with said, you know, you’re you’re if you’re if you haven’t got the death threat in your job, what you’re doing doesn’t doesn’t really matter.
But I still didn’t find that very comforting. So and it’s very difficult to to it’s a very difficult profession.
I really respect people who can do it over the course of an entire career and keep and maintain any sort of energy for it.
But for me, I was I was I was ready to go.
And so here I was.
I was 33, 34 years old, and I had already done the profession that I thought I would stand and at that age I was kind of done with it.
And so a friend of mine had heard about a job at NAIT, the Northern Alberta Institute Technology located in Edmonton as a writer, and the appeal of a nine to five job where you knew what shift you were doing.
Reasonably predictable atmosphere would be was was very appealing at that point.
I was going to ask you what the most stressful part about being a journalist is, and I was thinking it might be deadlines, but I’m guessing death threats is probably the most stress of of that job deadlines are way more stressful than than death threats are, even though one of them was very it was from a it wasn’t really a threat.
It was more of a promise that if things went a certain way that there was going to be a certain outcome for me.
And that was that was sort of accepted that was a fact of the job at deadlines for very stressful.
I’ll give you an example of my most my most stressful moment, really really quickly.
I was doing a story on about how we’re going.
20 years ago now, the Alberta government was working to settle a civil suit with Albertans who had mental challenges and who had been forcibly sterilized.
And so obviously an absolutely heinous practice.
And they were attempting to make good on it.
And I had written the story that was going to line, so I was going to be the lead story and with 7 minutes to go before deadline.
So this is 9:30 p.m..
I’m hanging around the newsroom story’s already gone through.
And then we got a call.
The lawyers have reviewed your lead and the headline and they killed it it you can’t run it so I had 7 minutes before we went to press to change the story and then they had to change the front page headline over it.
And so the entire newsroom stopped and the head editor said listen can you find another lead? You got to rewrite the first three paragraphs your story.
You’ve got 7 minutes.
And if we don’t hit this 9:30 deadline like, you know, the presses are an automated process.
Everything has to shut down and do the estimated cost at home was about $70,000 to shut the presses down and restart them.
So I’m sitting there flipping through my notebook and I had the guy on the rim watching me who’s the initial editor, and you had the guy laying out the front page and I sort of had to think of a headline really quickly.
And I said, How about this? And they said, No, how about this? And I told myself, Stay calm.
This is one of those moments, right? And so I found it.
I said, How about this? And they said, Yeah, that’ll work.
So I started writing and they changed.
They actually changed the computer screen.
So that all of the editors could see what I was typing as I was typing it.
And everyone was watching as I just so I wrote a lead, a first quote in a second and a third paragraph and everybody was watching.
And then they were building a front page around it.
And I think we made it with about a minute and a half to go.
And that was stressful.
That was that was tough, you know, having to you know, it’s one thing to exerting bravery in in the face of something like a death threat is challenging, but having to think and produce something intellectually and write it and make words happen in a very tight timeline.
I found that that was that was challenging.
And everything that you’re saying, I mean, you’re truly learning as you go.
So you take all of that experience and then the stresses in your next job at post-secondary aren’t at that altitude, not even close.
I remember getting there and I was writing a story for the alumni magazine then called AlumNAIT, and I’m not sure it’s still going.
And I was writing something towards the back with a program update.
And I remember sitting at my desk and thinking, I’m not sure if anyone’s going to read this, maybe five people, and I’m not sure they’re going to worry about it.
And I felt this liquid sense of relief go through me at writing something so just inconsequential.
It was it was liberating at that time.
I, you know, it really felt it felt safe and relaxing and I didn’t mind it.
I knew I wouldn’t want to do it forever, but it was it felt good.
And by the way, I loved AlumNAIT.
We wrote some good stories that it was a very good publication, but it was it was good to be on board.
How long did you stay at that post-secondary? So I was the writer for about three years, really liked it.
So I was writing speeches.
I was writing the the monthly staff newsletter, you know, writing communications and stuff.
And then a spot opened up in our media relations person at that time left.
And my boss said, hey, would you consider, you know, you’ve worked in the media.
We consider doing media relations.
And I really wasn’t sure that I want to have anything to do with journalism again, but I, I said, you know, sure.
And so I did it for about a year did, and it went really, really well.
Like, you know, NAIT, you’ve got 17,000 students going through there at that time.
Lots of interesting people, lots of interesting programs and stories.
And I found it, you know, it was, it really was not challenging to, to, to, you know, have stories come to you or find them and propose them to reporters.
And it was very relaxing because, you know, once I proposed the story and they started writing about it, my job was sort of done it and I didn’t have to write.
I was I was always like, I don’t have to write a story at the end of this.
So it always felt really, really good.
And the greatest success I had we had a bunch of events one week.
And at one point we wound up we had we had the front page of the paper, a story on page A1, a story on page B1 which is the city section of the Edmonton Journal, and a story on, I think E1, which was the business page at the same time.
And I went and got about 10 15 copies of that paper and I still have them.
And that was just it was an interesting place.
It was great to work there.
And it was, you know, I know you worked there as well at the time.
And so there was just a lot of energy from, you know, you had new students coming in all the time and it was just, you know, an educational environment.
And I think that was the, the happiest I’ve ever been at a job.
I actually loved to work in there.
So that’s great.
I want to speak in general terms with the next section of this podcast, just talking about your your role.
Now, don’t get into specifics of who you’re working for, but the type of work you’re doing now.
And and then we’ll get into a can we call it a side project that you’re working on.
No, it’s the main project.
Yeah, it’s no problem. I’ll try to walk.
I’ll try to walk everyone through it really fast.
So, okay, after I left the AR, I went into working in the oil and gas industry. I’ve worked for four companies, you know, basically doing media relations and communications.
So doing interviews with reporters and everything, you know, writing, writing, press releases, you know, writing speeches, sometimes writing internal communications, So right now I’m actually leading internal communications and external communications for, you know, an oil and gas company.
But just like every other job I’ve ever done, I kind of picked what I wanted to do next and started kind of doing it on spec.
So for about oh geez, about ten years from the time I first moved to Calgary in 2005, I worked on it.
I worked on a book project that I wanted to do, and it was it was fiction.
And I’d written some stories before, but I had I’d never quite wanted to publish them and I went working on this book, which I consider to be a real a real project and worked on it on and off and did a ton of research on it.
And about three years ago, so I had a couple hundred pages written, tons, you know, oodles and rolls of research, notebooks filled and kind of was always chipping away at it, but it didn’t really have a finish point. And one day it came to me that, you know what, maybe this book isn’t very good maybe that’s the reason you haven’t been driven to finish it.
I was more doing it almost like a hobby instead of as a project with a, with an endpoint.
And I decided one critical day to stop doing it, to give up the book idea.
And I was like, you know, it’s, it, it seems very smart, but it’s a little bit derivative it was very influenced by an Argentine novelist named Jorge Luis Borges, very famous guy, a little pretentious and just it’s it’s a better project to talk about than it is to actually read for the viewer.
And so I gave it up and I remember thinking, here I am for the first time giving up the next thing I’m going to do.
So I’m doing a thing, but I have no next thing.
And how’s this going to go? And about about maybe a week later, something kind of said to me that, you know, there’s a book coming in your head and it’s going to arrive over the next few days.
And so I kind of put myself ready to receive it if that was actually the truth.
And then I was actually doing the dishes one afternoon on the weekend.
And over the course of about six or 7 minutes, the entire book rolled into my head kind of from start to finish, including a title.
And I was like, well, that was interesting.
And I kept doing the dishes and just stayed very, very calm about it.
And that became the project that I was working on.
And so I’ve been really working on it ever since.
So the book is entitled Simultaneous Bit of a long title with a lot of six syllables, but it’s basically about a an accountant named Michael who meets a computer programmer who’s, yeah, meets a computer programmer named Sophia, who is testing a project, a technology called Speak, that enables users to capture for a brief time a small segment of their consciousness and save it onto a file.
And at the time, I thought, you know, this came to me.
It was quite a novel concept.
I did some research and found that this isn’t that’s really that far off that there are there are people who are working on similar things like this and the project was not appealing because anyone who has done this before, someone always wound up sliding a helmet and trodes on their head and I thought if I if someone’s got to slide a helmet on their head, this thing is over.
And I didn’t even want to write.
I didn’t even want to write it, much less anybody want to read it.
And so I thought about it, and I my critical mind was always that.
And I was like, you know, if it’s done with an earpiece, that could be charming enough.
And it turns out a few months later, I read about a company that was actually trying to patent something like that, an earpiece that can actually capture kind of a segment of you know, a brain wave over a certain period of time and save it.
So it’s not that novel.
And there was actually a company I learned about.
I did some research and found there was a company in the southern U.S.
that sort of does something like this where they are taking people who are suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s and attempting to capture sort of their brainwaves and then play it back to them to try to slow down the brain.
The brain’s, you know, you know, eventual disillusion, which is, you know, which made me very sad.
And but at the time, it was quite novel.
And so I got to work on it.
And I learned very quickly that the written format didn’t really work.
And one of the things that didn’t really appeal to me, I read, you know, what I think is a lot of fiction.
And I’ve never quite been satisfied with the ability of black text on a white background, however, formatted, to be able to put across kind of the spatter of a of a moment, because eventually your eye is always going to go to 11 part one part, one part, and it’s very sequential and you could linger over it for a long time.
And I, I told myself, you know what, the book is going to not be a book.
Why would this guy write a book? It’s going to be a speak file with the, the where the book comes to him.
The way it came to me after the action is over, where it replays itself in his mind over several minutes.
And that’s the way it’s going to be.
So I got to work writing it, and I wrote about half of the book, about 200 pages worth, and always knowing that this was the wrong format.
But I wanted to advance the story, and I was kind of thinking about it all the time.
And then over one very troubled evening when I was thinking about this, I was I was like, you know, this needs to not be a written format.
This needs to be in a format that is mobile that moves.
And I had the idea of text disappearing and reappearing on a screen and only being present for a very short period of time, you know, so that you don’t, you can’t reread it.
You can only read it once and then it’s gone.
So it’d be the form of like a video with words appearing on it and and then gone.
Basically the way reality appears to us, where it’s there and then it’s replaced by another thing, often very quickly, depending on what your noticing.
And the other thing the format had the ability to do was, you know, be able to present two things happening at the exact same time.
And you choose which one you’re going to look at.
And that that sounded like a really good representation of choices that we’re faced with any moment.
What to pay attention to, what’s the foreground, what’s the background and what’s the what would remain and would remain peripheral.
And so over I started a very simple and but I reached out to an animator and found one who would be willing to lay out in a very, very simple format and we did a couple of chapters and then I sent it to a an animator, an animation instructor that I had met at Mount Royal and said, What do you think of this? And it was literally one line, one line, one line, and then gone.
And he said, you, you know, if you’re trying to reproduce the mind, you can maybe make it a little bit more complicated.
And that just totally triggered a switch in me. And the animator I was working with went to another project, and I found a guy in B.C.
who did really great work.
And we wound up with at that time, six different call three columns, something down at the bottom of the screen, something and subsequent, but basically six pieces of constantly changing text with the main action of the book happening over to over two things.
And you’re representing the action of the book and just other mental processes and things that are happening at that time.
And it was really appealing and then he wound up moving on to something else, and I wound up finding a third animator and we wound up finding an ideal format which was three columns in different colors in a letter box format.
One column represents pure, unprocessed information and one column represents intermediate information, and one column represents the book as it’s being written in the guy’s head. And over the course of about six or seven months of trial and error, I mean, we’re I’m probably on version seventy of this thing we might have coming up with something that I felt was visually appealing.
And that was complicated enough without being too without being completely incomprehensible.
And so I’ve we’ve been able to we laid out two chapters, and this has been this entire book has been a series of crises solutions retrenching.
And over over a couple of years, I’ve been thinking about whether this project needed sound.
And I was really wondering about what it would need. And you would remember I’m a record collector, and I was trying to think what kind of music would go with this.
And so over about six months, every time I got a finished version of the file, I would play I mean, I played every everything I could think of over it from, you know, the music of Leon and then Perrotin from the 11th century, which is very simple vocal music through the early Baroque, through keyboard music, into the classical period.
I skipped over the romantic and think that would never work.
And then jazz.
And then I was thinking of whether it would need to be all percussion and and everything.
And then I realized that there was a composer I really admire who could really tell me his name is Francisco Lopez.
He’s a Spaniard he’s a biologist and composer who was kind of recorded all around the world.
He’s done environmental recordings, compose his own electronic works, and I had about 47, 48 of his albums.
And I thought, you know, I decided it needed sound and I decided that I should ask him what it would need.
So I got his email off his website a few weeks ago and just sent him an email saying, You know, I think this needs sound.
And I think he would be the perfect person to be able to do it.
And I asked him if he would be willing to license some of his recordings and over, you know, just a few days later, he wrote back to me and said that he’d be happy to work with the project and that, you know, that he’d be willing to compose new material for it.
And he he you know, he composes his own things.
He will also take environmental recordings he’s done, some of which are extraordinarily complicated.
You know, the rainforest underwater, you know, an insect hive.
And he’ll he’ll either run it raw or he’ll process it.
But it’s extraordinarily complex.
Music rhythmically and harmonically.
And to have him agree to do this was was absolutely massive.
So he is now we scored the first couple of chapters and we’re ready to go live and it really is quite a it’s an interesting and very, very complex experience.
So really happy to be at this at this stage.
You know, it’s nicely and I’ll just say as quickly I’ve gone from a book that I was fooling around with that I would never finish to something that I felt was interesting enough that I, I was driven to push it to completion in a release.
And, you know, it’s, it feels really good to be at this stage.
I’m sorry for cutting off, you know, sorry I was cutting you off has this style been done before or do you think this is this is a first in the history of visual art? I mean, there have been there have been lots of artists who have worked with text.
And the other thing is, is that the notion of of using moving text to be able to put aside an image has been in in common practice for for decades and done extremely well by the advertising industry.
And, you know, all you have to do is watch the first rolling credits of Star Wars.
And what was it in a place for, you know, far, far away a long time ago.
And you understand that this is this is in practice.
I’m unaware of anything where someone has tried it for long-Form fiction, and especially in a multi column format, I haven’t quite been able to find anything like it.
It’s certainly unprecedented to me.
You know, it wouldn’t surprise me as someone to try it.
But as the format for long-Form literary project, I’m unaware of anything, especially with something with sound, it’s it’s either unprecedented or certainly very unusual.
And that feels good.
When when will this project be released, do you think? And where where will people be able to find it? Well, we are hoping to roll it out in April 2022, the first couple of chapters that are scored.
And I think I’m going to I’m just going to put it on YouTube and and then and then begin marketing it and promoting it.
And with the current format between me and the animator, we are able to take my writing and animate it and then score it at about one chapter every three weeks to a month.
And if we are able to if it proves successful and we’re able to do it on a full time basis, we can likely get that down to a chapter every two weeks.
So like I said, we’ve got to go going up if we’re able to roll them in.
The current format of the book calls for about 25 chapters.
So about a year’s work, rolling it out and you know, we’re hoping we’ll be able to build an audience and see it see, you see, first of all, if people like it, that’s going to be the real thing.
Because it is, it is a challenging format but it is, you know, it’s certainly an unusual one.
And, you know, I know people have asked us whether we should just write the whole book and drop it and I think it we’re at a stage where we really need to get it in front of some readers and get some feedback and see if it’s if it’s coherent and if it’s something that they find either, you know, enjoyable or informative in some way, if it has value to them and kind of take their feedback and take that into consideration.
As we keep moving forward with the project.
I mean, your project sounds really exciting.
Congratulations on getting it to the stage that you’re at and we’ll look forward to you when it’s released.
Just to finish the podcast, I’m wondering if you can give any advice to a university student graduating with a Bachelor of Arts, moving into their their life right I don’t know if I have if I have advice per se, but one thing I can tell you is that, you know, I would give this to really, really anybody which is that the be willing to be fluid and mobile to adapt to opportunities and understand that the the thing that you really want to do, it is very possible that you may not know what it is yet and be willing to make a lot of twists and turns and use trial and error to be able to find the thing that you want to do that will make you you know, that will before you find that thing that you’re the you’re excited enough about that it really doesn’t seem like work.
I mean, in my case, it took, you know, a number of different jobs.
The arrival in a profession that I thought was going to be the one I wanted to stay and that I found out later was it wasn’t.
And it’s taken me a lot of years to find the the project in the format that wound up being the thing that I wanted to do.
And even once I found it, I had to work really hard and work through draft after draft, version after version format after format to multiple collaborators to be able to arrive at something that I felt what would be, you know, of enough value to be able to roll in front of the the unsuspecting public.
So it’s, you know, you need to be ready, be patient, be adaptable and, you know, be never basically never give up on it and just keep working towards it.
And there have been many times where I thought, this thing is not going to happen and I’m going to be left with nothing.
And I you know, I was even willing to drop the project.
I’ve been working on and leave it with nothing.
And facing a very uncertain future with it to be able to get to here.
And so, you know, be adaptable and always remain hopeful.
I think that’s the best way I could put it.
That is great advice.
Davis, I just want to thank you for your time today.
Hey, Kim, thanks for having me.