Hello Readers and Writers!
Today we'd like to introduce you to a man whose motto is "Be interested, be interesting". This memoir writer and podcaster has worked hard to get outside his comfort zone and share details of his life that he believes will impact his readers. Although he hasn't released his work yet, he is already learning a lot about the industry and preparing for publication.
Introducing Houston Bailey!
RL: When did you start writing as a career?
HB: Currently, writing is not my career, but we all have goals! I started focusing on writing on my 39th birthday, which was in 2018. There was a reason for that date (to follow). Since that day, I have written almost every day, in one form or another. It has been a challenge so far, but I have loved every second of it. Will it be a career one day? Time will tell.
RL: What's your current work in progress?
HB: I am working on my first book at this time. It is about the life lessons I learned by “finding meaning in the mundane” in the year leading up to turning 40. When that number started creeping into my psyche, it got me thinking about life, happiness, and meaning. I decided to write about that experience, that journey.
I am still workshopping the title, but it will be along the lines of “Looking at Forty: A Most Meaningful Year”. The writing and editing is “done” at this point, and I am working on publishing. My goal is to have it out sometime in 2020, and I think that will happen.
RL: What genre is your WIP in? Is this your normal, comfort zone genre?
HB: I suppose you would consider it a memoir, even though it is only about one specific year of my life. I would not say that this was in my comfort zone. I do not typically share a lot of personal details and thoughts, especially with strangers! It took me quite some time and effort to be willing to share some of the chapters, even with friends. But, I am glad, and proud, that I have.
RL: How do your stories rebel against the status quo in your genre?
HB: This is a great question. I would say by embracing the mundane- things that some may consider boring, the day-to-day. Usually, memoirs tackle “exciting” and “sexy” times and topics in life. Mine is quite the opposite, but that was the point.
RL: You also host a podcast. How did you come to the decision to do so?
HB: My best friend, Josh, and I had been wanting to tackle a project together for quite some time. We also found ourselves not talking as much as we used to, as he lives in Florida and I live in Texas, and we wanted to fix that. The podcast seemed like the perfect intersection between those two goals, and it has made our friendship closer than ever. It also has been a ton of fun and we have learned so many things that we never would have without doing this.
RL: Tell me more about The Comprehensivists.
HB: Well for now, we are focusing a lot on podcasting- we have about 100 episodes up on all major platforms- but we are also getting into blogging more on our site. As the name (hopefully) gives away, we want to learn and discuss topics from every facet of life. We consider ourselves “generalists” and love having the freedom to talk about anything and everything. We actually use “the everything podcast” as a sort of tagline for the show.
Most of our episodes include discussions about hot news topics, sports, entertainment, reviews, and some personal stories. In 2020, we will be focused more on “deep dives”, where we will choose one specific topic, do some research, and do an entire episode on the topic. This will not only provide our listeners with an opportunity to learn, but will force us to do so as well. We have started to use our site to blog a little more. As a matter of fact, you can visit the site and some of my posts are actually example chapters from the forthcoming book.
RL: How is it working with a co-host?
HB: Overall it has been great. It provides the opportunity to bounce ideas off of each other, gives one another time to think during podcasts, and is just fun. It does have its challenges, mainly timing. Josh and I are both extremely busy with life, family, and work. Finding time to plan, research, record, edit, and post high quality episodes can get tricky at times. That has been our number one challenge. I think having a co-host has positive challenges as well- we both want to be at our best, knowing the other person’s name is on the show.
RL: Talk to me about the path you are choosing in book publishing.
HB: I will admit, as a first timer, I have waffled a bit on this. At first, my goal was to self-publish and get my work out there on my own timeline. After reading and thinking about it, I thought I would give traditional publishing a shot. I am in talks with a couple of publishing companies right now, and can always go back to self-publishing if it drags on too long. I love reading about this topic though, as it seems there is no correct answer!
RL: How do you manage writing time? Is finding writing time an issue for you?
HB: Finding the time is not an issue for me, but making the most of it is (I get distracted easily).
My typical writing day goes like this: wake up at 5:01 a.m., drink some coffee, play with the dogs, sit down and start. I do not set a goal as far as time goes, or even total number of words. If I am happy with progress, I stop. I usually write for about an hour and a half or so. I feel like anything too far over that has diminishing returns for me. Plus, I still have a day job, so I need to cut myself off at some point to get ready for that. I found myself writing about 1,000 words per day on my good days. I try to write a little something everyday, even if it is just for myself.
RL: Where do you see your writing career going in the future?
HB: My short term goal is to improve. I plan to be more active on our website with short blogs to help me improve over time. I hope that this first book will have enough success that it will provide me opportunities in the future. I plan to write another book and want to start soon. I have 2-3 ideas that I believe are great options, so I will need to choose the “winner” fairly soon. After these last couple of years of writing, I now have the bug. I do not think I will ever stop at this point. If it doesn’t turn into a “career”, that is OK. I love it, regardless of the difficulty.
RL: You also say that you love to travel. Where have you been?
HB: I do love traveling, absolutely. Due to a previous career and an adventurous wife, I have been all over the world. I spent a couple of years in Europe and visited many countries there (Germany, France, The Netherlands, Italy, Luxembourg, etc.). I lived in Guam for two years and that afforded me the opportunity to experience Asia. I visited Japan, Thailand, Australia, and Korea. I have spent time in New Zealand, Chile (Patagonia), Bulgaria, St. Lucia, and a few other places. A big goal of mine is to visit Cuba, so hopefully that can happen one day. Also, don’t underestimate the beauty of the Western US!
RL: What are you reading right now?
HB: I just finished Musashi for the second time. I love this book and highly recommend it to anyone and everyone. To be honest, right now I am reading all kinds of parenting books, as my wife and I are expecting our first baby in July! I have a lot to learn! Once I pick back up on other topics, I will likely read another John McPhee book, as I believe he is my favorite author and someone who I would love to be compared to one day (again, we all have goals).
RL: What can readers expect from you in the future?
HB: I felt as if I was really hitting my stride as I closed out this current book. I hope to keep that momentum and choose another project soon. In the meantime, I will be more and more active on my website and social media pages. I plan to take more risks and be more comfortable sharing my writing going forward. I want to tackle important and interesting topics and plan to do just that. I think I will be able to produce products that people from all walks of life can and will be interested in. I look forward to it, I really do. I have a sort of self-made motto of “be interested, be interesting”, and I would say that is my goal for the future.