Sorry. There is no punchline. But Ron has author wisdom to share involving all three of those elements. How could I resist?
Meet Ron Marasco …
What things would you do differently…
I think I would have liked to begin my writing career with the understanding I now have about editors. Older writers sometimes have negative and cautionary things to say to young writers about editors. But it has been my experience that your relationship with you editor can be one of the truly rich experiences of your working life as a writer. The key is to approach it as a naturally collaborative relationship—as it is—as opposed to an adversarial relationship–which it only is if it gets off on the wrong foot!
When you “click” with an editor it can make for a deep, meaningful and sometimes life-changing connection. But you need to keep your ego out of the way. And you need to think of the book not as “yours” alone, but as a story or project that you want to bring to the world, that you want to someday belong as much to readers as it does to you.
What issues make you struggle…
When I am writing I get so swept up in what I am doing that the little details of life don’t get taken care of. E-mails go unanswered, chores ignored, health regimens foregone. It gets so that all you want to do is write. At times like that it makes me understand why there were such things as Medieval monasteries—where people could just work and contemplate, utterly undisturbed by the ever-encroaching imperatives of the outside world. Medieval monks didn’t have to pay cable-bills or get their tires rotated! In the late stages of doing a book, every writer is an Medieval monk! (It’s one of the ways you know that you and the book are really cooking—that feeling of “Leave us alone!”)
What is your best writing advice?
The first is from the novelist Elmore Leonard who said the key to writing is to “leave out the parts that readers skip.” My best advice to writers is to know that the story is not coming from you, but coming through you, from somewhere else. Thinking like this will way help you get put of the way of it. A truly organic story can’t be manipulated; it has to be allowed. It’s a “Let go, let God” kind of thing.
What would I do with my life if I didn’t write…
To degree, I’ve already done it. For years I was a professor who taught Theatre. And throughout all my years teaching I kept up my career as a professional actor. I’ve done dozens of TV shows. Most recently I have played the recurring role of a (quite irascible) judge: Judge Grove on the TV show Major Crimes. I must say, being a judge is pretty fun. The bench, the robe, the gavel! You holler; people listen! I have a bailiff, for heaven’s sake! Everyone should have a bailiff! It’s a great role to play. Of course, in real life I’d be a lousy judge. Being an actor and a writer I tend to empathize and feel for all people, so I don’t know that I would be able to make a decision about anything, if I were a real judge. But the props and costume are pretty fun to play with!
He was homeless, hungry, and struggling to survive in first century Jerusalem. Most surprisingly, he was a dog. But through Barley’s eyes, the story of a teacher from Galilee comes alive in a way we’ve never experienced before.
Barley’s story begins in the home of a compassionate woodcarver and his wife who find Barley as an abandoned, nearly-drowned pup. Tales of a special teacher from Galilee are reaching their tiny village, but when life suddenly changes again for Barley, he carries the lessons of forgiveness and love out of the woodcarver’s home and through the dangerous roads of Roman-occupied Judea.
On the outskirts of Jerusalem, Barley meets a homeless man and petty criminal named Samid. Together, Barley and his unlikely new master experience fresh struggles and new revelations. Soon Barley is swept up into the current of history, culminating in an unforgettable encounter with the truest master of all as he bears witness to the greatest story ever told.
Ron Marasco is a professor in the College of Communication and Fine Arts at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. His first book, “Notes to an Actor,” was named by the American Library Association an Outstanding Book of 2008. His second book, “About Grief,” has been translated into multiple languages, and he is currently completing a book on Shakespeare’s sonnets. He has acted extensively on TV—from “Lost” to “West Wing” to “Entourage” to originating the role of Mr. Casper on “Freaks and Geeks”—and appeared opposite screen legend Kirk Douglas in the movie “Illusion,” for which he also wrote the screenplay. Most recently, he has played the recurring role of Judge Grove on “Major Crimes.” He has a BA from Fordham at Lincoln Center and an MA and Ph. D. from UCLA.
Find out more about Ron at http://www.thomasnelson.com/the-dog-who-was-there.