This week we would like you to meet one of our Individual Creator Members, Timothy Trainer.
1. What was the inspiration behind becoming an author? What do you enjoy most about the creative process?
The idea of wanting to be an author arose from the simple act of reading. When I read a good novel, article, or a well-written piece that is interesting, they provide an incentive to explore whether I could write something that could hold someone’s interest. Fiction writing is a greater challenge than non-fiction. My novel, “Pendulum Over the Pacific,” took years to develop the idea of characters and, of course, the scenarios, the conflict and tension that are in the book. My latest project was non-fiction. The book, “The Fortunate Son: Top, Through the Eyes of Others,” posed a different set of challenges. These challenges were not so much creative, but in seeing common themes based upon interviews with 14 individuals. When you have input from that many people, the “creative” part is about how toorganize and put the material together. To the extent there is “creativity” in a non-fiction work, it requires some serious initial thought about what to include, i.e., facts or statistics, or the details of personal experiences. These interviews required me to create a set of questions common to all in order to have some commonality and themes. “The Fortunate Son” is about real-life experiences of young men who were drafted and sent to Vietnam.
2. Can you take us through your process? How long does it take? Does everything you produce make money?
The processes for fiction and non-fiction are very different for me. The fiction side of things is more complicated and time consuming. Fiction requires a basic idea for a story line, creating the main characters and the primary, over-arching story. In fiction, there needs to be some sub-plots, tensions between characters, and intersections between any sub-plot and the overarching story line. There are also challenges as to location (where will the story take place?). Will the location be a fictional location or a real location. If it’s the latter, it requires authenticity of place because some readers may be familiar with the location. One concrete example of a challenge for me was to have a very strong yet believable female character, which may not be very easy for many male writers.
“The Fortunate Son,” which is non-fiction, did not take long compared to my novel. I decided to undertake “The Fortunate Son” in March 2016 and had a draft written by September 2016. The reason why the process occurred as quickly as it did was because the subject of the book was clear from the start. The men who contributed to the book wanted a book written about my father, which is something I resisted for years, but finally gave in to doing. I know the men involved. My father was a link that facilitated the pace of the project, although my father did not know anything about the project until it was done. These guys wanted to share their experiences with me. However, it was a more tedious work than the novel. Initially, I had to develop a questionnaire, which had to be edited after conducting the first few interviews. I had to interview them, transcribe what they had said and then break down the material into common themes.
Luckily, I’m not dependent upon these writing projects to survive financially. My day job as an attorney is what allows me to turn to the writing as something to pursue. Professionally, I’ve been co-authoring a treatise for the past dozen years and, although that generates royalties, the professional legal writing is simply part of my “job.” It keeps me abreast of developments in my field of legal work. As for the novel and the latest work, the financial return is minimal. I wrote “The Fortunate Son” more for the guys who served than for any other purpose. It was important to them and, the fact that they wanted me to do it and opened up to me, was both a privilege and humbling experience.
3. What do you do when you encounter someone stealing something you’ve invested your intellect, time and money into?
It is always discouraging to find out that someone is offering your work outside of the authorized distribution channels. It is also discouraging because what this means is that you do not have to be a well-known author to be a victim of infringers. As soon as you have a “product” out there, it becomes an opportunity for infringers. And, it is important for all of us to be aware of the fact that infringers are able to benefit financially regardless of the fame or anonymity of the authors or any other creative artist
4. What is the best piece of advice you’d give other creators in your field about copyright and how to protect themselves?
You have to see yourself as a creator and understand that you own your work. While it may not have much monetary value, it is still valuable because of the investment of labor and time. If it was worth investing time into creating it, it is worth doing the simple thing to place a copyright notice on it and to pay a small fee to have it formally recognized as your work by obtaining a copyright registration. It’s the basic step that should be taken if at some future time you need to take steps to enforce your rights.
5. If there was one aspect of the copyright law that you could change, what would that be and how would you change it?
As an author, the challenges today involve protecting works in the digital environment. Greater efforts by various platforms that facilitate sales of works to protect against the distribution and sale of pirated products is a critical element for creators.
latest book entitled “The Fortunate Son: Top, Through the Eyes of Others”, published by Joshua Tree Publishing, April 2017, received the Bronze Award from Military Writers Society of America in September 2017.