Book Smart


Monday October 24th, 2011 – Libertyville, IL

Time to get started on 2012. It was probably time to do that a couple of months ago, but I was too busy catching up on a backload of other years that still had unfinished business. I’m still mopping some of that up, but at least I’ve made significant progress. It’s moving.

One project that’s been festering way too long is the infamous bank robbery story. I met for lunch with my writing partner Rick Kaempfer today to talk about how we can move it forward. As painful as it was to live through, it’s a hell of a story and everyone I’ve told it to has agreed. I’m not nearly talented enough to come up with a tale like that on my own.

It’s a true story, and the more time passes the more it feels like it was someone else who lived it – but it was me. One of the few smart things I ever did was write down everything I remembered about what happened, warts and all. I didn’t try to make it a book or movie script, I just chronicled everything I could recall as close to how it happened as I could.

That turned out to be a great call, because Rick used it to map out a very well structured screenplay. We’ve gone back and forth on it several times now, and each time it becomes smoother and flows better. I need Rick’s input to make it a good movie, because I’m way to close to it having lived through it. He shaped it into something that can be marketed.

Unfortunately, there’s no law that says a true story has to be documented to the letter to be made into a movie. We’ve already conceded the fact that if it ever does get made, odds are overwhelming that all kinds of creative liberties are going to be taken by the studio.

That’s how it usually goes, and we accept it. Rick said he read my initial raw version of the story over again just recently and with a little restructuring he thinks it could easily be a book project. He’s starting up a publishing company, as he’s sick of dealing with all the foibles of the book business. He’s had several books published, and he gets things done.

I hadn’t thought about the story in a while, but putting it into a book would finally allow me to get it out of my system once and for all. People who have heard me tell it ask me to tell it again for their friends, and I’m to the point I don’t even want to go down that road.

The fact remains, as a story it’s a page turner. The twists and turns are dramatic, and the characters are complex and compelling. Having to testify in federal court against a person I thought was my closest friend in the world is a situation right out of the Twilight Zone.

It wasn’t pleasant then, and it isn’t nostalgic to think about now. The difference is, now I can look at the situation a lot more objectively. It still hurts to have been put in that ugly predicament, but others will see themselves as me and that’s where the entertainment is.

Our goal is to have the story released as a book by November 1st, 2012. Even if we can’t sell a single copy, at least I’ll never have to retell it again. I’m sorry it ever happened, but it did. All these years later, I still don’t know what lesson I was supposed to learn from it.

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