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Every since my hair turned white, people keep telling me that I look like comedian and writer, Steve Martin.
And since I live in Southern, California, when people see me out and about, they sometimes think they are actually seeing Steve Martin.
Now that I made that silly statement, you're no doubt squinting at my picture right now and trying to decide for yourself if I look like that "wild and crazy guy."
But here's something cool - Steve Martin is a very accomplished and successful writer.
How I started writing
A class assignment in high school actually set me on the path to writing. Somewhere along the line I read something about stories having a beginning, middle and end. Then one day my English teacher gave the class a writing assignment. We were to write about something we liked.
At the time, I was interested in getting a Honda dirt bike, and I had been reading about them and studying them. So even though I didn't own one, I decided to write about them, and I gave my story a beginning, middle and end, just like I had read about earlier.
We turned in our papers and I quickly forgot about it -
The following week our teacher gave us back our graded papers and mine had been given a "B+." Then the teacher announced that she wanted two students to read their papers to the class. Much to my surprise, I was the first one she called on. I was somewhat stunned, but that's the moment I became a writer and a storyteller.
You see, my story had come from my heart - and your very best work comes from your heart.
My TV and movie years -
A couple of years later, I began working at KTVA Channel 11, the CBS affiliate in Anchorage, Alaska where I became exposed to the sound and tempo of the short, to-the-point writing of television commercials, public service announcements and promotional spots.
In time, I would actually be called on to write the stations announcements, then commercials and even long-form scripts.
and I loved it -
But at the time, I didn't consider myself a writer, and the idea of writing a book, or even an article was not on my radar.
So how do you right a movie script?
Then one day I sat down to write the script for an 8mm movie that my brother Tom and I were going to shoot during the summer. I had no idea how to write a screenplay, but I wrote it anyway.
The script was really more of an outline for the story and the action, but it helped us when we started shooting our movie. The result of my screenplay was "Combat Patrol" a movie about a small group of World War II soldiers.
When our movie premiered for our cast and their families it received rave reviews. Of course they were an easy audience to please.But what I didn't know at the time was that years later I would actually become a Hollywood screenwriter.
Look Mom, I became a Hollywood Screenwriter -
Much to my surprise, and I'm sure to the shocking surprise felt by my elementary school, junior high school and high school English teachers - I became a Hollywood screenwriter.
The scripts I sold in that strange land called Hollywood, were family adventure stories. One script that became a movie is "The Long Ride Home" a family western starring country music singer Randy Travis, Eric Roberts (brother of Julia Roberts) and Academy Award winner Ernest Borgnine. The movie is based on my short script of the same name.
But while I did not receive any on-screen credit for the screenplay, if you see the movie and like it, I'll take some of the credit. If you see the movie and don't like it - it's their fault.
Mike writes his first book
Every family has stories, and when families get together two things happen.
First, someone always starts by saying "do you remember when Bob was in..." and everyone listens and laughs at the story. Then another "remember when" story, and another, and another. Everyone laughs a lot and has a wonderful time remembering.
By the way, the second thing that happens when families get together is fighting - but I'll leave that one alone in the interest of harmony and humor.
As an adult, for years and years I had been thinking about our family stories and how much they meant to our entire family. So one day, I decided to start writing them down so that those precious stories wouldn't be forgotten.
I didn't tell anyone in my family that I was writing a book about our family stories -
As I sat at my computer and began to write, tears rolled down my cheeks. Some were tears of joy, but some were tears from my heart, expressing a longing we all share for those precious times we all remember from days gone by.
But when my book was completed, it was a book that had come from my heart.
Then, on the occasion of our mother's 70th birthday, I sent my mother, my sister and my brother a copy of my completed book, "Memories of my Family."
It turned out to be the best gift I had ever given to anyone in my family. The book not only captured our family stories, but it captured our humor.
When my mother's copy of "Memories of my Family" arrived in the mail, mom called me and here's what she said about the book. "Mike, this is the best gift I have ever received and it's the best gift I will ever receive." Wow.
One thing is for sure -
I love writing books of all kinds because I can give you valuable information that you need, and I can entertain you with fictional books too.
And you'll enjoy my humor books as well. "Humorous Stories from ALASKA... and beyond" is a collection of fun stories about growing up in Alaska.
"A super funny book that reminds us all of the foibles of growing up. Told with a great sense of humor."
Bonnie Mutchler, Author
A Final Note
As they say - "that's my story and I'm sticking to it."
Michael R Dougherty