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Kenny Kemp

Kenny's Bookshelf

Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales
A Man For All Seasons
I, Claudius
The Welcoming Door
City on a Hill
Dad Was a Carpenter: A Father, a Son, and the Blueprints for a Meaningful Life
I Hated Heaven: A Novel of Love After Death
The Carpenter of Galilee & The Welcoming Door
Oki's Island: A Hero's Journey
The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion
The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11
The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States
The Demon in the Freezer
Josephus: The Essential Writings
Jesus and Archaeology
The Rise and Fall of Alexandria: Birthplace of the Modern Mind
Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography
The Ruins
Lonesome Dove
Dan Poynter's Self-Publishing Manual: How to Write, Print, and Sell Your Own Book

Kenny's favorite books »

    Okay, that's a strained analogy, so let's just be direct: contracting is what makes my writing possible because it has taught me that no matter how daunting the work seems at the outset, if you just open your toolbox and start working, amazing things happen.

    John Steinbeck said, "When I face the desolate impossibility of writing 500 pages, a sick sense of failure falls on me, and I know I can never do it. Then gradually, I write one page and then another. One day's work is all I can permit myself to contemplate."

    Truer words were never spoken. But Steinbeck wrote a few pages a day and, like building a house one stick of lumber at a time, eventually it gets finished. Not every house is a mansion of the sort Steinbeck wrote (not even all his were), but if it keeps the rain off, then it's good. Build a mansion next time. If you can.

    I think I build good, serviceable houses. Not flashy, maybe not striking or showy, but good, warm, watertight stories that keep the rain off. And it all starts with getting your tool box out (firing up your computer or sharpening your pencil), rolling up your sleeves (putting your hind end in the chair), and swinging the hammer (or punching the keys -- both indicative of the aggressive energy required to create). And lo and behold: you raise a wall or finish a page and one day the whole structure's done and they move in, plunk down on the couch, and start reading your book. 

    Now getting paid -- for contractors and writers alike -- that's​ the hard part.

Kenny Kemp

They call house levels "stories" for a reason


I've worn a lot of hats in my life: musician, filmmaker, contractor, lawyer, author, and they all have something in common: each of these livelihoods is about story

    "Hold on," you say. "I get filmmaker and author, maybe even musician, and, okay, perhaps even a lawyer tells a story in front of a jury, but how is a contractor a storyteller?"

    Well, perhaps contractor is stretching it. But consider: a contractor's skills make all the rest possible. With contracting, you work with a plan which is changed the minute you begin the job, utilizing imperfect materials that must be bent to your will (or not), customers (characters) that surprise and delight you, and a result that is never quite what you'd seen in your mind during the planning stage. Kind of like writing.