Metal Be My (Career) Guide
I did it. I wrote a book - a book about heavy metal music and its influence on my career as an in-house counsel.
The odd thing is that I never had a goal of writing a book. It was something I just decided to do about six months ago. The catalyst was a great podcast series, free time, and a unique concept.
The podcast was Moving Forward. One of my close friends, John Lim, hosts it and he was doing a mini-series on writing a book. He had just finished writing "Making Fake Star Trek" and I wanted to hear how the process worked. We all have seen and read books but how often have we heard about the actual process of getting everything together? My interest was primarily entertainment but as I listened, I started thinking about whether I could write a book. That's when the idea hit. I have tons of heavy metal stories but I never tell them because I am so introverted - I never feel comfortable telling them. A book would be a great way for me to share these stories in a way that didn't involve me inserting the story into a conversation. Instead, someone would be consciously choosing to read it. With the upcoming summer, I would have plenty of time and daylight to sit on my deck overlooking the lake and write.
I started on May 21, 2019 by jotting down book ideas in my pocket-sized Moleskine notebook that I carry everywhere. Like I said, I had stories but I needed an interesting way to deliver them. Otherwise, it would just read like a glorified humble-brag collection. I needed something unique but also motivating. It was during this brainstorming that I figured it out. There has been a symbiotic relationship between my legal career and the evolution of my metal tastes. Only thing is that connection would not be obvious to any of my professional colleagues or metalhead friends because I never brought the two worlds together. It didn't feel natural and, as you will learn in the book, I was worried about how my colleagues would react. What better way to "come out" as a metalhead than through a book?
Once I settled on an idea, I wanted to be sure that I had enough content to write about. I didn't want to start writing, only to learn that I ran out of stories! So, I started talking to myself. Literally. I turned on voice-to-text functionality in Google Docs and just started talking out the stories while Google attempted to write out what I was saying. In a few weeks, I had quite a few documents detailing my professional and metal stories.
I would be remiss if I did not disclose that everything that I was doing up to this point and after is set out in the Moving Forward podcast. Check it out if you have any desire to write a book.
With the content there, I decided that I could actually write a book. My original plan was to be very efficient. I would use the titles of the documents that I just created to put together my outline. Then, I would start cutting-and-pasting the content that I had spoken-to-text and have very little to write. That plan did not work because most of what Google had written out for me didn't make much sense and would need to be rewritten entirely. However, it did help me flesh out all of the stories and ideas that I had in my head which was very valuable. I then started pulling all of the document titles together into an outline that became the basis for all of my writing.
So, I started writing. Originally, I thought it would be great to start each chapter with relevant lyrics from a great metal song. However, the lawyer in me realized that I didn't have the rights to publish those. So, I went with quotes from my life to start the chapters. I still wanted to have something metal at the start of each chapter, though, so I ended up referencing metal songs in each part and chapter title. These references became helpful to the "Mixtape" that I created because they let the reader know exactly what songs to listen to as they progress through the book.
I started writing the book at the end of June. One of my favorite summer activities is sitting on the deck with a nice cold beverage and listening to some tunes. I did that a lot this summer. I was spending full days writing. Some days it was easy. Others it got tough and I needed to take a break. One of the bigger challenges I faced was which lawyer stories I could tell. As a lawyer, I am bound to keep client secrets confidential - even after I stop working with them. I had to pull back on the details or some stories and remove others entirely but there still was plenty to talk about.
By the end of the summer, I had completed five drafts and was ready to turn it over to my editor, Megan Prikhodko. That was scary. This personal project that I spent months putting together was being given to someone else to point out everything that was wrong. I just hoped she didn't think that it was complete trash. I was on edge until she completed her first round of edits - and told me that she enjoyed the book. She even asked me to add more metal to the playlist. Score!
The process involved four rounds of edits by her and another 4-5 rounds of edits by me! If you're keeping track, that meant that this manuscript had been read in its entirety around 20 times!
While Megan was editing, I wanted to get the cover artwork together. I am an amateur photographer so I thought it would be fun to stage a collage of metal memorabilia and career milestones. I spent half a day getting everything set up and shooting. In the end, the image that you will see on the cover of the book (and it's also all over the website) was a result of that photoshoot. Oh, except for the one image that I had to Photoshop in to cover the "Ibanez" name on my guitar. As a lawyer, it would be embarrassing to misappropriate a company's trademarked logo on the cover of my book!
With the cover done and editing complete, my final step was to put the entire manuscript into software called Scrivener to format it for publishing. I figured that the process would take a few hours. Wrong! It ended up taking me about 15-20 hours to get it just right. I also found myself going through some of my favorite books to get an idea of how they did things like the copyright page - which I needed but have never actually read! For a really good take on a copyright page, be sure to read the one in "Making Fake Star Trek" - especially if you are a sci-fi nerd like me.
Once it was formatted and started looking like a real book, these documents that I had read and re-read in Word all summer and fall started to take on a new life.
Which brings us to today. I now have a proof copy of the book in hand!
This is the last step before publishing. It is like a final draft of the book that I can mark-up if I see any typos or formatting that needs to be fixed. Once that last review is done, I will submit it for publication and it will be released - in early December. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!
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