WhyWeWork BrianVee
WhyWeWork BrianVee

Episode 5 · 2 years ago

#19 James Noll The Teacher Author Musician

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Writer, Producer, Filmmaker, English Teacher Support
 
James' short story become a finished film! www.lilithfilm.com https://jamesnoll.net/lilithfilm/ Short Stories https://jamesnoll.net/thehive/ James’
 
Profile linkedin.com/in/james-noll-48936a47
 
Website pulpedu.com (PULP!)
 
Twitter
JIMMYPULP
 

Welcome to why we work, with your host, Brian V as. He speaks to people like you from all over the world as we together dive deeper into our motivations, struggles, joys, seemingly missteps, hopes, warnings and advice which will be an encouragement to us all to get up, get going and keep on working. Workings tough, but working is good. Now here's your host to why we work, Brian V. I'm Brian V at why we work, and today I have the great pleasure of speaking with Mr James. No good day find sir. How you doing? I'm doing well. I'd thank you. I again a linkedin connection and I've been following you and you were messaging me and telling me some things are going on in your life and you are a busy man. And I think right after that, I don't know what you're doing like last couple days, but you were into a big project there last week and yeah, I'd like to get into that project. But first can you give a little introduction. But more specifically, when you first started to work, what was one of your your first job and how old were you? Earliest job was probably helping my brother with his paper route. He would wake me up. He was. He's five years older than me, so I was probably eight. Were you helping him or was he telling you? If you've always allowing me to help? I was not going to paid for this. Is Super early in the morning and I think I did it once or twice and I was like yeah, this is your job, not mine. But I think my first real job was at a subshop. Okay, I was trying to get a job. This is the s so nineteen eighty four, one thousand nine hundred and eighty five, I was trying to get a job at TCB why, which is a franchise Yogur Shot Yogurt Shop, frozen yogurt shop, and I blew the interview. A friend of mine was working there and I did the interview. was really nervous. I was young, I was fifteen years old, and so my dad got me a job with a friend of his who owned The subshop. So I worked there for a couple of months and use that experience to get the job that I wanted, which was at Tcbuy, and then moved down from there. Why did you want to work? Why did you want to sub job? Why did you want either one of those what we didn't really want the sub job at one of the the experience, I think, at TCB. Why, my fo, you think there? Why were you thinking? Like experience at fifteen? Where did that driver determination have? Well, I mean, you know, one thing is just to have money. You know, it's when you're starting to become a little bit more independent from your parents. I knew I was getting my license in a year and I wanted to be able to afford gas and insurance, things of that nature, and the freedom that you know, I grew up in the suburb, so the freedom that a car provided was definitely one of the motivators and girls and friends and all that stuff. Did you brother happen to get a car something prior to you too, and then you kind of saw so, yeah, he had a well, I think we'll have I didn't know this until later, but my dad came home with a one thousand nine hundred and eighty five for Mustang and said Hey, I got this for you to my brother and then, a couple months later, said okay, now the payments are yours, and so my brother was kind of like forced into hold the bad yeah, and so he started doing that. But I you know, I saw him with all the freedom that he had and how much he enjoyed the car and that that for him has continued. I'm not a car person, but he is.

But for me it was more about having that independence, about being able to be my own person and all the things that teenagers feel now a teenagers felt since they there's been teenagers. You know, it's a way of escape. How did you like the yogurt business in the subway? Well, we would say I hated if it's seven. I hated it so much once, once I got into you know, that's that's food retail. Essentially, it was, you know, it's everything that people understand that type of work to be. It was long hours, little pay, a lot of sloggy type work. My boss at the sub shop was a little draconian. He got heat. He would get upset with me if on my break I sat down and like lean my head up against a wall or something, and if you're on your break, you should be working. I was like talking about man, I guess I got fifteen minutes here. Same with TCB. Why? It was just, you know, it was just really difficult work and no real reward, even even the money. You know, I think I lasted there as much as I wanted the job initially, initial I said, there for maybe three or four months, and then I got a job that I really, really loved. That kind of forecast where I was going to end up going with my life, even though I didn't know it at the time, which was I ended up being a daycare counselor and after school day come old. How old were you at this point? I'm sixteen, okay. And so another friend of mine, Franklin, he's a childhood friend of Min who lived next door to me. He had been working at this place called country day daycare and he said you've got to you've got to work here. It's great. As like well, why? I mean it's I don't want to watch kids. He's like no, it's not that. And I got the job and it was awesome. I would spend three or four hours after school. It doesn't high school at this point, and so that there would be like an hour and a half to hour break between the time my school got out and the time I had to be at work. So, you know, I could go home and take a nap, get a snack and then go to work. Work for another three hours, maybe four hours, playing with kids. We played dodgeball and soccer and, you know, if it was raining out, we watched movies and it was just a whole lot of fun and there were no late hours. Parent pick up was thirty. Yeah, maybe we had to wait until seven for you know, late parent to get there, and then I was home and I could do my homework and hang out with friends or, you know, video games were things. I would play that or watch TV, go to bed and go to school the next day. And even better, weekends were off there. You know, there's no after school day care on on Saturday and Sunday, so I had weekends, holidays, Snow days off, but and I absolutely loved it. At this point, for high school, you thinking what you wanted to do for college, or were you not quite sure? Now you know, I knew I was going to go. I didn't know why. Like a lot of people, had a couple of friends that when I ended up going to college, they were said, we were concerned about you. We thought you were just going to stay around town and the work crappy jobs. I was like, Oh, I didn't realize I had that reputation. I thought, you know, I was going to go this like everybody else. I thought I was doing pretty good here. Yeah, what are you talking about? They were taking all they're taking, like the APE Calculus classes and the apen government classes, and I slacked off. My senior year, ironically enough, I took AP physics, which math and science are not my things exactly. Okay, I should have said yeah, I should have taken Api English, but whatever. And even when I got to college, I didn't know what I was going to do. I knew I was good at English. I knew that's what I like to do. Once I started taking the liberal large classes, I realized that I didn't want to take any of the other classes, the ones that they make you take. The history class was okay,...

...but then I had to take a math class and a macro and microeconomics class, and I did the opposite of what they told me to do and I put those off until like my junior and senior year and just delved into to all my English classes. Yeah, and it wasn'ttil sophomore year they did make you declare. I was like, well, English is what I'm good at, so that's what I'm going to be. I'm going to be an English major. So what was your hope? To be a writer or to be a teacher or did you not know? I was getting into writing at that point? I had been since I was sixteen or seventeen. I didn't know that. You know, I didn't know how to write. I could write well for academic stuff, like I was writing fiction, but you know, it's at sixteen and Seventeen. Yeah, yeah, trying out short stories. What was your first story? When you I mean not so much the first one that you can well, well, we're right in. At sixteen and Seventeen. I was writing science fiction. There's a there's a story called repent Harlequin said the tick tock man, by Harlan Ellison, and it was in one of those world's greatest science fictions, one nineteen sixty six, nineteen sixty seven. It's a collection and I would read those things back and forth. I just loved them. I remember sitting in bed reading that story again, that the tick tock man story, and I thought I could probably do something like this and I went downstairs and got on the family Commodore Amiga, which have at that point had been just used for defender of the crown, and there was you know, a pre word press, or network press, but a pre word program that we had on there, and I sat down and wrote a story and it was a science fiction story. It was absolutely horrible. It was something about US trying to be satiric without even knowing what satire was at that point. I was trying to be funny without really having a sense of irony. or I I had it, but I didn't know how to portray it on, I know, on the page, Yem and I remember it took it took me a couple of hours and finished it. I brought it to my girlfriend at the time and said, Hey, read this. She looked at as she read it and it's kind of I was like, what do you think? She's like, you should keep trying. All Right, okay, at least you didn't say stop. Yeah, yeah, exactly. Yeah, it was very nice of her. And Yeah, was there someone in your family, because I mean you're getting into English and you're talking about some of the books that you're read and then into writing. was there someone in your family that brought it you towards your joy for reading? Would you even define it as a joy for reading, because it sounds like absolutely vour devour books. Yeah, well, maybe not as fast as some people, but yeah, I'm constantly reading. Yeah, my mother, she got me into reading very, very early. I remember when I finally decoded everything and figured it out, I brought a stack of my my doctor seuss books down to her while she was watching the Ribon neets, so I think, and I just started reading to her out loud. And you know, from that point on there was always a there's always a book around. It was something that I could always retreat to. I didn't know it at the time, but just personality wise, I'm fairly introverted. Doesn't mean that I don't like people, just means I need to to have some alone time, and that's where I would get it. I could go home, you know, I'd read a Stephen King Book. I read short stories that got into a clockwork orange and all those dystopian novels, and I could use that to kind of relax and recharge. But between her and my brother, my brother was a one who would also use like hey, you should read this, here's one flu over the CUCKOOS and nest. Hey, here's a COPP or orange. Like I said, Hey, did you get the new Stephen King and they would just feed me stuff. And then, you know, there's bookshelves all over the house and so I just have my pick. I just walk around and you know I'm going to read. I didn't know Stephen King wrote four books, and you know, pick that one up and move on from there and then start developing your own tastes and move on. I think you might have mentioned it. What was your first piece of writing that you handed into someone beside your girlfriend, for a critique? Now, that...

...was junior year and we were supposed to write a fictional story. I ended up fictionalizing some event that that we went to up at my mother's Relatives House up in Jersey and that crash and burned really, really well, it's it was I was I was up against another kid in class, meaning we we we've been partners, and he wrote this amazing piece, of course, and then and every and he went first, of course, to read his out loud and then I read mine and it was just crickets and totally failed in this one as well. By, you know, I go ahead, go ahead. Well, I got the feedback that that, at the time, I needed. Let you know, every writer, when they go into writing for the first time, especially that age, you don't know what revision means, you don't know really what constructive feedback means, and so that's that's what the teacher is trying to say is, look, it's not going to be perfect the first time. This is a rough draft, and so you get the positive stuff in the negative stuff and you go back and read it. And I went back and wrote a different story instead because I was embarrassed and I didn't know how to, you know, handle that particular situation. But I put it through three or four drafts and then my teacher was like, yeah, that's what I'm talking about, that's that's how you do it, and so you learn from those particular situations. How is your balance of confidence with your writing, even though it needed some revision, versus standing there and reading in front of your your classmates, the confidence could did you have a balance with that? Because, personally, I remember my first year university at my first communications class and my knees were shaking. Yeah, and I was scared. I turned forty people in the class, I looked at my communication season said she's like shut up, even though I had the paper here in front of me. Yeah, how is your balance with that, because you're in probably mighty a pen yeah exactly, you know, naked in front of the class. Yeah, well, that's that's exactly. I don't know if my voice was shaking or my knees were knocking at that point. I do remember one of the things I was trying to make sound funny. I did not come off as funny at all, and there was just silence and it was that you get that feeling in the pit of your stomach and in front of your you know, this is an advanced English class and eleventh grade, and I was like, Oh man, I blew it. And you know from that point on he's going to humber and finish the story, waiting for you to be over. And there's been plenty of those moments, do you know? Yeah, exactly, especially following the other guy who just nailed it that it was the he was like I think he ended up being the Valedictorian and he just he just knew what he was doing at an early age. And you know, there wasn't any ever, like any jealousy of my my half. I was just always like man, he's so much better at mean and this. But that takes humility right, like just to say no, that guy's talented, right, I suppose, or just recognizing it. Yeah, recognizing I mean acknowledge that, wow, that guy's talented and I have some ways to go. Yeah, and also just being a nice person. But also, I think it wasn't a secret at how good he was. Everybody knew that because he was. He was killing it across all of the the subjects and it was just one of those things like, I have no idea where this guy came from, but he's amazing and I think he had transferred over freshman year. So we didn't know, nobody knew who we write horses exactly like wow, you're awesome, in which everybody's just for you. Yeah, maybe I just for you just to realize, okay, you got to work on it a little bit more and then you'll succeed. That's yeah, that's why people like that exist. It's it's what gives you drive. Sometimes. I got, I got to hit that level. So after university, what was your what was your mission? I was a drummer and punk...

...rock bands and we were touring up and down the east coast playing basements and bars and small clubs and we record ordered a whole bunch of albums and that was what we were trying to do. I did that for about three and a half, four years. The song. Yeah, absolutely, yeah, it let me see. In one of the bands I had a few in there, even though I did not have to play guitar, I think. You know, I got a bass and I kind of plunked around and figured out what the notes were and showed it to the guys who knew better than me and we fashioned a song out of that. You know, I could I could yell screen or, sorry, Yell Sing, you know, with some sort of melody in there, some sort of harmony. Another band I was I started getting more confident and I was a fifty percent songwriter with that group. And then, you know, because you hop around from band to band, I mean you know, they last, you know, a year or two. So there was another band. You know those, those first two are punk rock ish or just rock bands. Then I got into like an old country band where I was a one third singing partner and writing partner. Then I after that I got kind of got tired of writing and I just want to play drums, so I played a cup as like they're like you want to play back up as like, I don't not want to sing right now, I just want to play drums. You know, I'm already doing five things at once and adding singing in there six. Let me just play drums. But yeah, it was. It was a lot of fun. How much? Well, even bringing up the confidence level, how much was that good for you to be on stage? I mean, did that add value compared to your being? You're in high school, standing up there reading your good writing that you probably could have done better, but now you're on stage getting that practice. Yeah, like as a teacher, I know that coming to Korea. I'm a teacher in South Korea, so this was the best thing for me to stand up in front of these classes for whatever I do in life, just do this on an ongoing basis. Really Boast your confidence. Just gets you more familiar with standing in front of people. So being in a punk band, I mean, you know, it wasn't country all the time and it wasn't, you know, a ballad of sorts, and you guys probably up there jumping around, screaming and and enjoying yourself. How is that for your confidence? Yeah, I mean, especially with the bands I was in, we got a lot of good feedback. To the point, I mean there was there was always, you know, the negative stuff, and this is when the Internet was just coming around. This is the you know, late s early odds, and we got some snide, nasty comments online that we learned very quickly to block the comments section on our website, but most of it was just it was. It was excellent feedback. People love the music, they loved hearing his play. It was to my comfort level because I got to sit behind a sea of symbols, meaning three symbols. But yeah, I'm back there on my stool and you know, the same years in front of me and the Bass player and the guitars. That kind of take the heat off of me. So I could just, you know, be up there and not feel like I was the focus of the attentions, which makes you, know, you feel a lot more comfortable as you do it more and more and do it more and more or and then once people start a plotting if you did something well or they like the song, it's like, okay, I'm good at this, like I can do this, and then it's just about practice and being up there and doing it over and over again and then all those butterflies in the nervousness and they need to apologize. I remember the first couple of of sets that we played. You know, we would we would make a minor screw up and the guitar player would say sorry about that and like we did a little like I guess, autopsy of sorts after them, and I was like, don't apologize, they don't know. Just act like you did it right, because that's that's how you know. They want to cheer. They don't want...

...to you. They don't want to think that you don't know what you're doing. And after those went away, then it was just kind of like, oh no, okay, I've got this, I can I can sit up here and play and I can take the spotlight and share it with other people. So it really yeah, it really does boost your confidence level and gets you, like you said, used to being in front of a crowd. It's very helpful. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, when you, when did you put your drum sticks down? I still haven't. I haven't been touring as much, but you know, it's been probably fifteen years since I've been in like a band that has regular rehearsals and that's more of a time thing and you get a job, you get a career. I have a family. My girls are all grown, they're out of the house now, and it's you don't want to go to work at seven o'clock. You're waking up at six or five hundred and fifty five in my case. You work all day long, take a quick nap and then go play with a whole bunch of sweaty guys and a crappy warehouse for five hours and then have to get up in the next morning and you know, you drinking this, here they're smoking stick. Yeah, it's like I can't really do that anymore. But the music thing is never gone away and what I did instead was a and learned how to engineer my own music and you learn about Eq and compression and my techniques and and how to mix better, how to master better. So that's what I've been doing with music for the last fifteen, sixteen years. And because I write fiction, it occurred to me a while ago. I was I think it was about two thousand and thirteen. I had all these short stories, I had a, you know, a couple of novels at this point, and I had a light large diaphragm mic in a complete protol set up and I want, I could totally do audio books. And the reason I felt like I could do audio books is because I'm an English teacher and I read all day long out loud two kids, and you can put the voices on and figure out what the pacing of something is so it doesn't feel like you're just a narrator reading something, because a lot of a lot of authors, as good as they are writing, can't perform what it is that they're trying to do. And so yeah, maybe some of that that performance as a punk rock drummer and singer and being up on stage and then reading the students all day long filtered into that confidence. Is Like I could totally read an audiobook and then from there I started doing songs to match the the fiction that I was audiobooking and and kind of Nice and everything kind of dovetailed and swirled all together. So that's what started first, Jusic, what started first? Your book writing, your short story writing that you published, or your profession in teaching English or teaching teaching? Definitely, I mean I've been writing all along iving feel confident enough to publish until until two thousand and thirteen and it was teaching, because I teach English and creative writing. It was and I write with my students. What create is this? Or are you in U Nigh School? I'm in high school, so technically ten to eleven and twelve graders, but you know, mainly my students are eleventh graders and in creative writing sometimes in ten graders and twelve graders join in as well, but it wasn't. So I learned how to teach creative writing and was writing along with my students and I treated like a workshop. So I'll give them an assignment, they'll have a week and a half to write a draft and then we workshop it for a couple of class periods and everybody. What does the workshop look like for English class? For Mine it's you sit in a circle and everybody's got copies of their stories and they pass them out and all right, so here's this flash fiction and you know John's going to read it out loud and we're going to drop down some comments about what he did well and what we think needs work or what didn't work for us and after he reads it, give us like three or four minutes to kind of get...

...our notes together and then I open up to the class and everybody says, well, here's what I like and here's what that didn't work for me, and that's the best feedback you can get. So they're not just getting comments made by me which they're never going to read. Students do not read comments the high school level made by their teacher. They're getting it verbally and written down from everybody, yet from their peers exactly, and it's amazing when you see how much they can grow as writers if they are actually taking that workshop seriously. They do it a fantastic job. What is for high school kids? I think they get pushed under the bus a lot for not being motivated, not caring much, but obviously it's a generalization because there are kids that do care. What is your pitch, for lack of better word, to the kids of why it is good for them to read to, you know, Hohlee, their writing skills, for their future? What is a maybe a typical thing you might say to them, off off the cuff, for at the beginning and classes? Yeah, to the ones who are resistant, I go look, you're going to need to communicate at some point in your life and this is a way of figuring out how to communicate well, succinctly and with reason and logic, no matter what it is that you're writing. If it's eleventh grade, you know we're teaching them basically argumentative essays and narrative structure and narrative essays the AP classes that they teach. It goes well beyond that. It's more literary analysis, rhetorical analysis, but yeah, that's what it is. I I don't care if you're an h fact repairman, a plumber and English professor, a colonel in the army. If you cannot communicate, you're not going to do well and this is going to help you do better and whatever it is that you're that you're looking to do, and that, more than anything else, is is the best cell because especially the eleventh graders that I teach, just the regular English kids, they might have had a bad English teacher in the past who, you know, makes them right, because they have to write, but they've never explained the purpose of doing it. It's just because you're supposed to do it's like that's not really it's not meaningful to anybody, and they're not. You know, a lot of those students aren't going to college. They might go to. They might be nurses, they might be going into computer science and not need a computer science degree. Some of them are, some of them are going to go into trades, and so telling them that literary analysis is important because of their thinking skills is not something that they really care about. But telling them if you can't communicate to a client why they need to get something done or why you're doing a specific thing for them, you're not going to get clients or you're not going to get hired by a boss who needs to know that you know your stuff and that work better. I wouldn't say it's like a complete cell because they're still high school kids. Yeah, how receptive are they? I mean, generally speaking, do you? Do you see this some of the you know, let's say bad apples, the actually started turning pretty good and say that you're understand getting it. There is that few of fire between. Yeah, you know, by the time they get to eleven grade, their patterns are pretty much decided and you know, I mean I wouldn't call them names or anything this because there's such a there's such an array of difficult things that people have to go through in their life that that's one of the one of the things that I that I learned them very early on being a teacher, which is at first I was like, I can't stand teaching this kid and in such a you know, it's a hard he gives me such a hard time, or it's his mouth or his behavior, and then you realize where this kids coming from or where or, you know what, what they've had to deal with or why they're acting the way that they are. And...

I mean, don't get me wrong, there's always going to be people that you don't like, students or adults, but my job as a teacher is to assess what they can and cannot do and help them and you just kind of when you cut through all the behavior, if they are behavior problems, and you get to know them as people, even if you know they're still going to fail your class because they're just not going to do it, you still have made this relationship with them that goes beyond just some teaching that content. out. What is it that I can do? And I hope they appreciate it. You know, it makes life a lot easier for everybody when you approach them as human beings instead of kids to dump information into. When did you, or what was your motivation to publish your first book? I'd always wanted to and I had enough short stories and a novel done that I and the the self publishing revolution had come around and because of my experience with being a punk rock bands, that's all diy. You know you would. You would be laughed at if you showed up at a Gig without merch and your own CDs that you self produced and screen printed yourself, and so I never understood with you, because that's that's gas money, that's food, man, and but in the publishing area there was still the gatekeepers and this system that's put in the place that maybe for good reasons and maybe for bad, but this allowed a lot of people from even giving it a shot and it was create space was at that time. You know, there's two thousand and thirteen and have been around for about five years and I just found out about it and I thought, Oh, do it myself. I've done myself with these other things. The stigma is still there and it was definitely there in two thousand and thirteen, but it's slowly going away because prior to that it was vanity publishing, meaning, you know, you had to buy five hundred to Azero copies of your crappy book that was poorly edited and try to sell it and usually they just ended up moldering in your garage somewhere. But this way you could order one or two copies and and if changes needed to be made, you can make them immediately and for free. And so just as a as a model of getting it done, it was attractive to me. And then also because I've always wanted to do it and I was a creative writing teacher. So I want to show my students as like look, you can write your own book, that I can publish your own book. It's just like in the music space, it's just like in the indie film space, and you can, you can do these particular things. And then I just didn't stop it, just kept writing and kept writing and kept publishing and Kip up. How good would that feel to be an English teacher myself, not a good one, but m one, having a product, having your your baby, your first published book, and bringing into your class and saying look in front of your students, saying look, you can do this, I've done this and this has taken me twenty years, or you know, first piece of writing, to actually get it published. Yeah, how good does that actually feel like? I mean that's a probably going into it's almost akin to going to your family and saying, look, this is on sale at and an, I. Amazon, right, and you're bringing your students to show, like you know, there's maybe one student there that will, you know, pursue that path. Maybe, but how does that factly to do that after so many years of being hesitant, for whatever reasons, to publish it? I mean, I can't remember like exactly, but tryump for anything actually, to be honest, since I write horror and science fiction. At first I was a little bit wary of what might yeah, but what my administrators might say or if there was going to be any pushback. So I kept it on the download for a little while. But gradually you can't hide something like that. I am showing it to my students like did you write...

...a book? I'm like Oh, yeah, and you know, I had some copies in there and our teacher, Mr Noli's writing horrible. Did you? I see it? That goes all around that school like, teacher, why didn't you tell US exactly? And the well, and some of the covers I was trying to choose. That would be, I guess, something that wouldn't I wouldn't be judged for. And now, in hindsight, I'm like, that's stupid. I'm just going to choose the best cover that you know, that that comes to me and that came from going to a lot of conventions where you're selling your where I sell my books, and just being around other horror authors and they're like, you need to make your cover scaryer, you need to, you know, go a little bit more into what horror fans want to want to read, and then realizing that there are a ton of people who love horror. It's it's not it's not something that doesn't sell. Horror movies constantly sell. He said you wouldn't stop. So how many books have you published now to this point? Nine, I think, and I'm on my ten. Either shelve my ten one just because of how busy I got and I usually like to take like a month in between novel drafts and this time as trying to squeeze way too much in and want from one draft to another. But yeah, nine books. Well, what is your writing process look like? So for people you know who might be a grade nine student thinking they like writing, or high school student or an English teacher or anyone else. What is your process? Look, I mean that's like talking to Michael Jordan and asking him how did he practice his free throw shots or how did he, you know, practice zone or something like. How do you practice or how do you implement your writing to come up with that final draft? Yeah, first of all, I don't think I'm the Michael Jordan of writing. Definitely, but you're working towards it and or would he say, right, hopefully. Yeah, that's true. Yeah, just trying to be humble. It's good. Good, thank you. So, I mean you're talking like start to finish, like with a short story or a novel? Yeah, it will pick a type of writing. And how would you go about it? I mean, if you're talking, you take, like to take a certain amount of breaks. That must mean you have some ideas up in your head, first and foremost, that you want to get out on paper. Yeah, so at first those very much what people refer to as a discovery writer, where you just you have no plan and you just go and write and see what happens. In teaching, though, I realize the relevance in the in the power of having a plan, and now that I'm getting into screenwriting, screenwriting is very prescriptive down to like where you're supposed. It has specific beats on specific pages of a script. I'm getting into that a little bit more. But so in the world of fiction they call you a planner or a Pancer, meaning you've planned it all out and you stick to that plan or you fly by the seat of your pants, and so I've become kind of a plant ser you know, I'll right in the middle and I'll plan out what I want to happen, but allow myself the freedom of interesting misdirection or irony or surprises that my characters might do or respond to that I didn't plan for. So I can take it in that particular direction. Then I can just go back and not to plan a little bit and change things around. So I'll start, you know, a short story. I'll plan the whole thing out and I'll write a first draft and see where it goes. My first draft story, first draft being how many pages for a short story. I try to hit about five thousand words and I'll write about a thousand words a day and sometimes that's easy. Sometimes it's not. Sometimes I'll write one hundred words one day and four hundred the other. But you know, I try to get it in no matter what and that's just what I'm drafting you have right now. I'm in between drafts and is kind of relief because I got the things to focus on. But yeah, thousand words. It's all the draft of a short story in a week. I said, it aside for two weeks and then I go into...

...a development draft to see if the story did what I wanted it to do. I'll seek, you know, feedback from people. You know, I would love to have a cast of Beta readers that I could run things by and pay, but I don't. So somebody's willing to read it. Sometimes it's my students when I'm writing with them. I'll work shout my first Drass with them and they'll tell me that's slide that in there right there. How yeah, what do you guys think? Workshop? Mr Nol Day, exactly, but usually that takes like one or two more drafts and so again I'll take a you know, I'll do it and I'll take a week off and do it again once I'm certain that the structure is there and that if you know that the ARC works and I'm achieving what I'm trying to achieve, whatever that is. Um then the last two edits are a line at it in the copy edit. So a line edit is just going in making sure you using the right words and sentence structure, that you're not repeating your word too much, that you're at the sentence does what it's supposed to do, like if you're writing an action sequence, that you make sure you've got, you know, short bursts of energy, that the pacing feels right, or if you're in a dream sequence, maybe you can use some longer sentences to make it feel a little bit more expanded. And then a copy edit is first I use grammarly and just plug it in the grammarly see what it can catch, and then I go and read it aloud without going into a microphone, because you'll be surprised, sin this is what I tell my students all the time, how many weird phrases or misspellings or even just grammar errors you will catch when you read something aloud. Because, yeah, when you read silently, your brains already predicting what's going to be on the page and you'll skip over stuff, but if you read it aloud you're forcing yourself to hit every single word and you'll catch stuff better. And then after that, if I can afford a professional letter, I'll send it to one of them. If not, again I let it sit for a little while and come back to a periodically before I feel like I'm ready to put it into a collection or to publish something. How many times that of the nine books that you published did you put to a professional editor? Twice? How do wes of my okay go ahead? Probably was my own detriment in that way, because they could probably be no, that they could. Probably they could be a lot better. I think once you enter into a collaborative partnership with somebody who knows a story, I just can't afford it. It's it's five cents a word for development draft and you're looking at eighty eight thousand, two hundred thousand words and it just becomes cost restrictive. I'm a English teacher, I don't have money for this. So yeah, so how with the two people that edit it, your books? How were they with editing to did that bring you back to grade eleven? Constructive feel was it? Was it was it read all over now? I think it's in that type of partnership. The goal wasn't to make me feel like, you know, the work isn't worth doing, but they brought up, you know, plot holes, Miss Characterizations, dialog things. was there a lot? It was. was there a lot, and probably more than I expected? Yeah, but I but also at the same time, I expect that's what I wanted. Is like cool, thank you. I think that's what I need. In the last one that I did my cowriting partner over writing some screen plays together. I paid him to do it and he's because he wanted to get into novel editing, because he's always done screenplays and you know, he pointed out a lot of this that he's like, he I don't think what you're doing works. Try this, this and this, and then I went and re replanned everything he says. That's good. That sounds like something that I want to read. And that's one that I had to stop in the middle because I know the plans there and I can always pick it up in a month and follow it again,...

...because without worrying about not being able to finish it, and because of his feedback, I think it's going to be at it actually took one book that I wrote. I think it's going to end up being two, which actually saves me time because now I don't have to come up with an idea for the second through in your mind, right. I'm this is the idea of the PODCAST, of getting people in their work, and the work, the talent that people have amaze me. Right. I'm not sure my talent is or my skill, but you're a writer, right. So you've written nine books, which is nine more than any most of the people in the world will ever write, and you're not done yet. In your mind, when you're thinking about these books that you're writing, what is going on like with your thought process and like in the middle of the night, do you wake up say I got it, I got to go write this down. Do you have any of those types of moments, like is it ongoing dialog in your mind about these particular stories that you're trying to develop? Strangely enough, not anymore. I know got it off. You know I have been, because I know how to. At this point, at least for me, it's like, okay, when I'm working I'll do that, but early on I definitely I would I would wake up with ideas or you know, because it's an anxious brain when you're in that creative process. But I still do that with music and and music ideas, like a melody will come to me or a harmony or some sort of bassline or something that will wake me up in the middle and then I'll pick up my phone and it's got the voice message thing on there and I'll sneak off into my little studio space and whistle it or Hummet and it's it's packed with basically me humming and whistling the voice mail or the voice APP humbling or whistling tunes and stating ideas as I drive to work, you know. So you hear the car going and the radios on the background like, Oh, here's an idea for you know, another country, Allsong, and then Da Dada, Da, Da, Da, Da, Da Dada and the go. So I can always go back and filter through those and in fact that kept me up last night because I'm in the middle of trying to complete a song before we go back to work and I could I had had too much caffeine before I went to bed and so I slept for about four hours and then woke up and there was a song just playing over and over my head and I was like I'm gonna do this to it, I want to do that to it as I I gotta you gotta Sleep. So I read for a little while, slept for another three hours and then it woke me up again, like it was like no, you need to do this song. I'll do that tomorrow if it's out to Brian. What what is the value? I think you just mentioned it, but it kind of slipped past me of you know, writers would say, or whomever, to always have a pain and or pencil on a notepad near you. So what is? What is your device that you if you find that valuable for whatever sort of inspiration that you get? What do you use to keep track if you're, you know, on the subway or riding your bike? Do you, you say, use an APP of sorts, or is it us just the voice, the voice APP on my iphone or the notes APP on the IPHONE? I'll type some things into there. I used to love to write my first trast by hand and I still do with short stories, but novels it just becomes cucumbersome. I can't get I can't get them done fast enough just because it takes longer. But there is a there's an intrinsic value to writing out a shorter work by hand first, because you've done all the hard work there, and then you'll do a natural development edit translating it from page to to Google Docs or pages or whatever it is you're using scrap. I should show you my desk. I got scraps of paper and envelopes all over it that have, you know, jotted down ideas, because I can't seem to keep anything around me. I'll walk around with it and put it down somewhere as like the idea just happened. I don't want to lose it. So, okay, Business Card to somebody that I forgot. You know, you get an idea, but yeah, it's I had a friend that I play music with. You would you would come in...

...with lyrics written down on cocktail Napkins all the time because you would have ideas at the bar and you know, I was like, are you get like a little up for that so we can figure it out, and he put them up on the wall and try to figure out what it was that he was doing the night before. He sitting all together. Yeah, so it's something similar to that. So you're an English teacher. What would you call yourself? I'm an English teacher. I mean, if I mean, I think the first and foremost. Yes, some of my friends tell me that I shouldn't call myself that and I go but that's like my main Gig, that's where I get like, you know, that's where the mortgage is paid and I get health insurance. So I don't have a problem saying I'm his teacher. But like a lot of teachers, I have a bunch of side gigs and I decided a while ago too, is like I'm going to have a side Gig. I'm not going to work at McDonald's, I'm not going to work, you know, in somewhere else, somewhere. I'm going to try to make the art stuff that I do work instead, and sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't, but that's a lot more satisfying to me than just picking up a paycheck from working home depot part time. So you are an English teacher and you are an author, a publish author. That's how they would probably say. Yes, joining piece. I've published many of it. Is that that the stigma step attached to it. The self published, or is that that? Yeah, I mean going to the publisher is what you're referring to. Yeah, I mean I think it's it's not important to the to delineate it, but you're going to get a different project product when you go to a published author. If I could take all of my stuff, I'm sorry, to a publishing house, if I could take all my stuff and roll it in that system just to get the editing, I would. I don't want to be in that system in terms of marketing and the advances they give, because it's not worth it. You're not to end up doing the stuff that you do as an indie author, so why not reap the benefits of that? But yeah, the editing, I think that does make a difference. But when you can afford it, you can pay to have your so have to good publishing house. The third thing that you're in now, which you may have some more things, because you said get inside gigs, is last week you were filming a movie. Is that correct? Yes, yeah, so when when did when did you get into movies? When did you get in film? where? Did your writing always want to be on a screen there? Was it just a natural flow? Yeah, it does it well. I mean, first of all, I love movies and I love good television shows. Not all the not all the pablements out there, but it came from me wanting to do something else with the fiction for a variety of reasons. and honestly, I do go to a lot of these like live shows, which they've been shut down because of the virus, and the first thought was, oh well, I can just have another selling point. I'll have, you know, downloads or maybe even a DVD that I could sell at the shows that I go to. And you know, it'll be a will be based on a short story that I wrote to keep costs down and I'll get a professionally done and since I know how to do sound, I'll do all of the post production on that to make sure I can afford it and it'll be a just a cool marketing thing that I could do as well. But then it took on its own legs and once I started learning more about film production from a couple of classes that I took from somebody who lives in Virginia who does indie film production, and got involved with the director in DP who live out in La and they started getting people involved from La and it became more and more of a professional thing to the point where now the director says, I'm want to take this to festivals. We use this as proof of concepts, maybe we can get a feature done out of this. And so I listened my friend chip, who's an actual reps writer out and in Hollywood and he and I are working on concepts right...

...now and kind of just took on its own life in that way. But the original intent wasn't to do that. The original intent was to have proof of concept of one of my short stories in film form so I could film the rest of them so I get funding for the rest of them. So how did that process go? I don't want to take too much of your time, but when did you start filming for that? was that just a short actual time? Yeah, the actual production was only me three days. It should have been for but it was only three. But the preproduction, I started planning this in January and figuring out how to do it and raising the money and selling off a whole bunch of gear that I didn't need to be able to raise the money and interviewing directors and finally getting one that I was comfortable with and then getting crew. I mean, yeah, that was a good six month project that it took to get that up to speed. And then all the money was in place and the director in DP throughout flew out on a Thursday. We went and got I went up to northern Virginia to get the gear with the DP. On Friday, while the director was with the production designer and on set figuring out how to make that look the way that she wanted to look, I was dropping up picking up the actresses who were flying out as well, all day long on Friday and I have the donuts. And yes, it was that part of the process. I told the director in DP I was like, I'm not doing that part again. We're hiring somebody if this actually gets made into something that's got a legitimate budget, and not to give someone a job. Somebody else is doing that, because I was driving all day long and it was not fun. Yeah, and then we filmed on Saturday and Sunday and there were still some shots they wanted to get, so we did it Monday morning and then La people going back to La Richmond people went back to Richmond and I sank into my couch for about two or three days to get over the production exhaustion. Have you ever experienced anything like that behind behind the scenes camera sort of stuff movie, any sort of things like that prior to this, not with film but with with audio production? Sure it's I think that helped because I knew how long things would take and I knew that there was a certain amount of standing around and everybody tinkering with stuff before you actually get to with music play. And so watching it happen and they're trying to get a shot and they can't get a reflection out of the window and they're they're moving this in the moving that and it took like two hours to get maybe a thirty second shot. I was like, yeah, that's the way it happened, that's the way it goes. How would you summarize this, this experience, and what did you has it been edited? Is it? Have you seen? No, I don't product. I'm raising money for the edit right now. I've got about twenty percent of it and I put up a merch shop with the the Lo look. It's the movies called Lilith. I think we're going to call it lilift drake because there's too many lilift movies out there and it's a horror movie and there is some poison involved. So as a tea cup with a crossbones, skull acrossbones on it and says just drink the tea, dear, because Lilis an old woman. So I'm selling those tshirts through spread shop to help get the money that. I've got a donation button. But once I make the rays, I'll probably make it by the end of the month. Hopefully I'll make it pay the end of the month. Then I can give that to the director and DP to edit it and then once they get there at least an assembly at it down, they can send that to me and I can start working on the sound and the folly and the music. Is there a temptation for you to say, honey, can we get a second mortgage? Is there like cour now id your you're disciplined enough to say, okay, this is my side Gig and yeah, I'm going to just do it the what would be the right way to do this? Yeah, I mean I've had two mortgages before. We had to short sell our house because of what happened with the great recession and with the lack of teacher pay.

Teacher, teacher teacher pay is lagging behind where I am at least twenty percent of what they promised me when I started. So I know what a second mortgage is and I'm never taking one of those on again. Same thing with, you know, with credit cards or anything like that. Like you know, it's okay. I think they have a low balance just so long as you know, you could pay it off whenever you want. But yeah, I if this can't pay for itself, then that's just bad business. That means that you're just taking on debt not making money back. Now did I? Did I spend a little bit more money than I wanted to? Yeah, absolutely, as always the case with film production, but this was not a million dollar budget thing. This was like, I would say, this is a super micro budget that we that we worked on with this and a very skeleton crew. But the product looks amazing. I was looking at some of the dailies in the playback and the direct and DP really know what they're doing, which is why I'm going to pay them to edit it, so that they can get their voice in there to tell a story. Right, I appreciate your time here, James. And the problem. What, what kind of advice could you give to some people who, I mean your I said, this is the beginning. You're a hard working man and like you're doing things that you've never done before that are challenging for you, things that you had to put in hard work when you were younger, and not that as any less hard work now, but you've worked hard to do the things that you want to do. And maybe I'm putting these words, maybe you don't want to go to teacher, you don't want to go do the editing or you don't want to do the band one day, but you're getting up, you're doing what it is that you have to do to keep on working. What advice would you have for people who, I mean not lack the motivation but are a little discouraged in thinking they can't learn something? They couldn't learn, you know, some basic grammar so that they could, you know, write something, or at least rite out the resume, yeah, or go to an interview? What advice would you have for some just some regular people that are not your English students? I think there's two different levels you're looking at there. I mean, if it's at the beginning level and there's that amount of fear and uncertainty for trying something new or maybe something that they're not particularly comfortable doing or, quote unquote, good at. You've got to take that first step and the best thing that could ever happen to somebody is a screw it up. I tell my students this all the time. I tell myself that all the time. Screw it up. If you screw it up, you'll learn how not to do that, screw up again and then have the wherewithal to keep on trying over and over again until you until you get it right. And so at that level, if you're moving up to I want to write, but it's they lack that motivation or time or whatever. I think it was Tony Morrison, or maybe it was my Angelu when she was young. She made sure that she wrote every night before she went to sleep. Sometimes would be a hundred words, sometimes it would be four hundred words, and that that, I think, is what you have to do. You have to just put your foot forward and start the thing and once you get into it you'll see, you'll be amazed at at how much you can actually achieve. My friend Bill Harris, he's he's an artist and I was talking to him about this very same thing a couple of years ago and I said what do you do when you don't want to go paint? He's like, I recognize it because he you know, as a creative person you find a million different things to do before you go do the creative thing because it's hard. So my house gets really clean sometimes the yeah, the laundry gets done. But then he said, look, I just go into my studio, even if I don't want to do it, and I pick up a brush and I start and he says sometimes I'll get half hour into it as like I'm done, I'm not doing this and he goes away. Sometimes it's three hours later and he got sucked into the rabbit hole of doing...

...something. He said, either way you're you're achieving something for that day. So whatever it is that you want to do, do it a lot, do or a little bit. Just cut out the time and make sure you get it done. And is it yeah, yeah, and if you mess it up, oh so. I mean you should hear all the crappy recordings I did for ten years before like I had that first breakthrough. I finally understood Eq and compression. You know, they songwriting might be good, but the sound qualities lousy and I'm just and I still feel like I don't know enough. But those ten years of hit a miss over and over again, keep on try and keep on trying, keep on trying. What is the most difficult thing that you do? What is the hardest thing you do, whether it's in teaching or writing or now, you know, producing movies, and I'll say movies because you'll go on and do some more, hopefully. Yeah, what is the most difficult? I mean like technically difficult, or motivation? Mine building. None technical difficult. What would cause you the most difficulty? And well, yeah, once drafting anything, songwriting or or a piece of writing is the easiest thing. Is The funnest thing. is where all the creativity happens. Once I start going into a mix of a song. I do podcast editing for clients on the side or doing my own audio books. Once you go into the tweaking of it, you know, if it's so technical, can it can get tedious after a while. That's the most difficult part of any creative project is when you're in the middle of it trying to get the thing done that you want to get it done. And in terms of wanting to do something in liking to do something. I hate audiobook reading because it's not like this. I can say Um and make verbal errors and slur my words and everything with a with an interview. With an audiobook, it has to be very clear and you have to have you have to say the line correctly, and I make myself do it and I've got to do one today and I'll probably do it tomorrow because I'll just put it off. I don't want to stand here and read from the page and then and then fly it all my errors and like a crop. I already put that out and going to go fix it. Oh yeah, we didn't mention that. But quickly about. You're in a booth right now. Yes, you so. That's another side Gig that you're doing reading audio books. It's just another way of marketing what I do. There's so many different avenues. Now I put it on a podcast and then I also see your own books. Then these are your letels in my books. Okay, yeah, so it's just another thing to have to make money off of this. You know, that's is about four years ago I decided to start really taking book marketing seriously and that's when I decided, as I well, I got all the year, so I might as well do it myself, because then I can save money on the production. And so I put it out on a podcast, I put it on find a way voices and they distribute it to all these different places where, you know, I'll get a twenty or thirty dollar payment a month from library fees, mainly people checking it out on the library and that's without doing any marketing whatsoever. So just continuing to create content, different avenues for ways and ways for people to find out who I am. Well, yeah, you mentioned about the Internet. A few years ago wasn't around or there wasn't the big kick and things are changing and when people say they can't find a job, there's things like this that they could do right. I mean if they can read well right, and I mean you don't have to be a certain shape, you don't have to be from a certain like. You just get yourself a booth and try to read because you can. I think there's a site ax, if I'm not not sure, I'm thinking a lot. There's one where you can just read other people's books, who okay the books, and then if that gets picked up, like you just put your profile out there and then people pick you up and then you get paid to read other people's books. So there's lots of jobs that you can do after someone could do at home without. You know, all the economy is bad, I can't get myself a job. Well, there's lots...

...of things you can do online if you just look. Yeah, with that stuff to it all comes down the marketing as well. You know, I have not been able to make a living off of all these little things, but it does bring in. It does it. It ends up paying for itself, which is all I want to but you know, part of the film stuff is to boost that and boost awareness and use that as well as to supplement my income even more. But one real good story about what you're talking about is this guy named his name is Graham Cochran and he runs a site called the recording revolution and at the last economic downturn he wasn't an audio engineer and he got laid off and he I mean he he can look them up online. He'll tell you the story. But he just started putting a whole bunch of videos out on youtube because he had a whole bunch of friends who are like, Hey, you know how to record music and I'm trying to do this. Can you show me how to do it? And then he use those videos to create courses and he has now a whole bunch of products on his site that he sells if you want to learn how to be a recording engineer. And it was through his site that I that I got a huge boost in my mixing ability and my understanding of audio engineering was, I would say it. For about four years, all I did was consume his free stuff because I'm cheap, and then I found a couple of it. There was a deal he was giving on, like I'm going to give you my full package for like, you know, two hundred bucks, as like. I've got two hund a bunch of that. And he's a good teacher and I started, you know, consuming all the stuff that on his website, essentially their videos or how to videos, and he he was able to turn that economic downturn into this job, essentially, and I think he make he makes a living from it. It helps that he's photogenic. You could do that with creative writing, could you know? Here I could. I got caught up and you know, all the other creative stuff and doing online courses is slightly different for that, but yeah, that's a complete option. Sure. Someone mentioned to me today fiber five erer. Hmm, calm did you ever hear that? I did. I've put stuff, I put my profile on there once or twice. But the people are looking to low ball on that site. Is that they want? Yeah, like they'll ask me like hey, you do podcast editing, how much do you charge? And I'll tell him and we go all that's way too high. Can you do it for this? Like no love right, bring my price here. Yeah, I'm not editing a twohour podcast for five bucks. You nuts. So that tends to be the case. They're you can find good people on there, definitely, but I started getting low balled way too much. I just took my profile down. I was like yeah, never mind, that didn't work. How do you find rest Chams? Well, I turn it off at a certain point in the day. You know, we're going back to school now. It's going to be all virtual, but I'm still expected to teach. So I'll be up at six, I'll be teaching until thirty. I go home and take a nap. I think I'm a big proponent of mapping. I think about a one and a half hour to hour nap after school because, as you know, is exhausting. But then five o'clock rolls around, I'll go to the gym for an hour. Then it's like six, two, eleven, six to midnight. That what else am I going to do? You know? I mean my kids are all grown, I've done all the the work that I had to do and I can spend three hours, you know, doing a little side Gig and writing a thousand words or mixing a song, and then nine or ten o'clock rolls around, watch television show and go to bed. You know, otherwise I'm just sitting and I can't do that. What what is brought you joy? What is your greatest joy in the work that you do, in the work that I...

...do? Yeah, having the content, creating content. I love it to the point of it takes away from the marketing I should be doing. I would much rather create content. That's fun. That's fun for me. How is work brought you through life? How is it helped you? How is it helped you been a constant in your life to bring you through, you know, thinking back of the sub subway maker or the submaker to the ice cream disher. Well, other than the you knowgarder, you get money and we live in Capitalistic Society here. Work provides worth work for? Yes, meaning I I know plenty of friends who don't want to work and I don't understand why. I understand why you wouldn't want to work a specific job. They don't want to work at all, as like. So you're going to do nothing. That makes no sense to me. And so choose the work that you want and make it meaningful and it's well, like you said, it gives you joy. Even that, even the parts of teaching that are the most difficult or that I don't particularly enjoy in the moment, gives me meaning, it gives me worth. It at its lowest level, gives me something to talk about with somebody else, and in that definition you can find happiness. I mean, just for an encouragement to you, one of my greatest teachers, Mr Strugg Noll, was at my great eleven English teacher and it was he just very impactful. I was a horrible student, but he's very encouraging and he led me towards writing and reading more than and it's just someone I always remembered. In closing, James, why do you work? It gives me meaning, it gives me direction, it provides the worth of my life. That's great, James. I was magic threes. By the way, I appreciate your time. I appreciate, yeah, you, you're willingness to do this when you are a busy man and you do have a lot on the go, and I hope you nothing. But also, how can people reach out to you? My website is James nold dotnet. If they want to spell that, because people spell my name all the time. It's JAM EESNOLLL DOTNET. What I'm really doing right now, what I'm really trying to do is get the the finishing money for Lilith. So if you go to little of filmcom, there's like a merchandise button at the top and a donation button at the top. WOULD THAT BE L il I thh L I L I filmcom? Yeah, yeah, those are the two best ways. Facebook, I'm at, is a facebookcom forward, knife back. Those are the those are the three places I think you can reach me the most perfect change. I appreciate your time. You've been a gentleman and a scholar. Thanks, Brian. Thank you for listening to this episode of why we work with Brian V, be sure to subscribe, follow and share with others so they too can be encouraged into their work. I hope that you have yourself a productive, a joyful day in your work.

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