Sunday, November 23, 2014

Guest Blogger: Evolution of a Writer & Meeting My Husband At The Same Time by Joel Craig

Evolution Of A Writer & Meeting My Husband At The Same Time
by Joel Craig

My history of writing has been journal writing, play and screen writing and eventually comic books.  In the early 2000’s, I started a theatre company with my friends called Off Hollywood and we wrote plays and performed them on the Hudson Avenue stage that we
rented in Hollywood. We were able to workshop plays that myself and my friends wrote. Once we are satisfied with the staged readings (so we could hear our work out loud) we would plan a production so that others could see our work. Also I met my future husband Donovan for the first time when he came in to audition for Off Hollywood  for the company. Luckily he was chosen to be part of the company. We performed together in the play, The Son’ll Come Out Tomorrow by Christopher Reidy (one of the co-founders) and the rest is history. Eventually the theatre company disbanded but our work has lived on. Reidy’s play just performed in September at the Roanoke Diversity Center in Roanoke, Virginia. Stephen Foster (another co-founder) wrote a play about Joan Crawford, Bette Davis and Judy Garland fighting to play the lead in the movie version of Joan of Arc called Legends & Bridge. That play is being performed this December in Rahway, NJ at the UCPAC Hamilton Stage just twenty minutes from New York City.

After I became an RN, my work schedule was erratic. I worked every other weekend so that made performing in theatre impossible so I turned to writing short screenplays and eventually drawing cartoons about my work. I would add fantasy dream sequences about conversations I had with rock singer, Madonna so that my writing was not just about work. Why her? Because I’ve wanted to be like her my whole life. She is a successful business woman who is also creative and even she, the most famous woman in the world, is a failed actor. Adding fun and imagination into my story really opened my writing up. And I could go to the moon and back and not spend a dime. I didn’t just write about two people on a stage or film screen but I could go anywhere and do anything and not worry about if I could fit it onto a stage or having a runaway film budget.  The possibilities were endless. That excited me. My cartoons were easier to share with the world. The cartoons were on paper so anyone could read it at anytime, not just on the weekends at the Hudson Avenue theatre in Hollywood.

Another factor which was a key to my writing at the time when I first became a nurse was that I started working on the night shift. Most of my friends worked during the daytime so not only was I working at night but I was isolated from my friends. Donovan worked nights too but one time (luckily only 2-3 months) he worked on the nights that I was home and vice versa. More isolation. Yuk.

My graphic novel started out as two booklets called zines. Each zine had thirty-six pages. I took my zines to comic book shops and they carried my work on consignment. That is when the store agrees to sell your work and the two of you decide on what money percentages each gets. Usually it is a 50/50 split where the author gets 50% and the store gets 50%.  In some cases the author gets 60% and the store gets 40%. I like that one better. Meltdown comics on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood sold my comics which sold alright. Sales were slow. I may have sold ten comic books. But I just got Skylight Books in Los Feliz (which is right next door to Hollywood) to carry my graphic memoir Welcome To Nursing HELLo, a Graphic Memoir on consignment. This happened only a few weeks ago so I will wait and see what happens.

One store that worked well for me was  this store online called Microcosm Publishing, which also sold zines and books on consignment on the Internet. I sent them one of my zines not thinking they would want to carry them but they did! I was excited. Since they started carrying my work around 2010 I have probably sold 150-200 zines. (I really need to keep close track of my inventory but I admit I am unorganized.) I won’t be quitting my day job over this but I am excited that people are reading my work.

Would I have written my 190 page graphic memoir if I had not become an RN ? Who knows. But I have my book that people can enjoy. My book is funny and has non-nursing things in there such as: an awful job interview, the “Mood Swing”, fighting with my husband in Venice and why I made Madonna cry. So run (don’t walk) to a computer terminal to order my book on Amazon and if you are a writer keep writing.

JOEL CRAIG is a nurse who works at a busy hospital in Los Angeles and lives with his husband, Donovan. They have been married twice with the second time finally being legal. In addition to writing about nursing, Joel is also an actor, having appeared in the films, Sideshow and Sordid Lives. Currently
he is acting in the web series, What’s My Intention? He's working on his next graphic novel, Vampire Nurse in Hollywood

His latest book is the graphic memoir/nonfiction, Welcome to Nursing HELLo: A Graphic Memoir.

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