Monday, February 12, 2018

Catching Up with Author Rick Barry: Life as a Full Time Writer

Darren: Hello Rick, and welcome! I’m sure many of your readers have been keeping up with your adventures through Facebook, Twitter, and your own website, so I will keep those type of questions limited and brief.

Rick: Thanks for asking for an interview. It’s an honor.

Darren: It seems like just yesterday that you were the President of ACFW-Indiana and I was your VP. My, how time flies! Since then, you’ve had several life events that have transplanted you to Michigan. But those events have allowed you to pursue a career with full-time writing. Can you share some of the successes and struggles this transition has generated?

Rick: Life is full of hard realities, and one of those is aging parents. My father had been living alone, but his failing memory and stamina no longer allowed him to live alone. I moved in with him to take care of cooking, cleaning, laundry, and home maintenance. Instead of taking a job while caring for Dad, I began working as a freelance writer, editor, and Russian translator. Actually, I had already been doing all of those, but this was the first time my full income came from those three activities.

Darren: What is your current main writing focus and where are you in that process?

Rick: Although I write short assignments for such publishers as Focus on the Family, Answers magazine, and Regular Baptist Press, those provide quick income to keep me in the black as I work on my next novel, which is a sequel to The Methuselah Project. I’m about 55,000 words into it.

Darren: You’ve pursued more than just writing. I know you worked as an extra in Captain America: Civil War, applied for the Survivor TV show, and recently you submitted a movie screenplay in an international contest that took you to California. Can you share with us more about those events and what motivates you to pursue them?

Rick: For the Captain America gig, I was actually online searching for live casting calls when I stumbled across a call for people in Atlanta to be extras. I sent them my photos and information, and within 24 hours they asked me to come. So I spent a full day as a mourner at Peggy Carter’s funeral and saw Chris Evans and other well-known actors. They paid me for my time, and also fed us breakfast, lunch, and supper. For Cap, I would’ve done it for free. But I wasn’t going to turn down free meals and money!

As for Survivor, I’ve applied quite a few times. Competition is fierce, though. Unless your audition video hits it out of the ballpark with the casting, you don’t hear back. Maybe they figured viewers wouldn’t want to watch me sit on the beach and plot my next book in the sand?

And I’ve had a growing interest in wholesome, God-glorifying films. So I took a class in writing screenplays, and then continued to study the structure. Three times now I’ve entered Movieguide’s annual Kairos Prize, which comes with a $15,000 prize for the winner. The first two times I heard nothing back. But in February I was one of 10 Finalists out of hundreds of submissions from over 20 countries. I didn’t win, but just being a finalist was extremely encouraging.

Darren: I know you write more than fiction, what other writing projects have you been working on?

Rick: I’ve written many devotional articles for Christian publications. The January/February issue of Answers magazine includes my interview with a Harvard-educated Christian geneticist.

Darren: Now I want to shift gears, slightly, and focus on the full- time writing aspect. Isn’t it always every writer’s dream to actually be able to write full time? Any advice for those of us wanting to follow in your footsteps?

Rick: Yes. Don’t do it! That is, not unless you have a spouse to support you, or unless you make a big sale that positions you comfortably to live without other income. Writing for publication can be very iffy. You’re never guaranteed of sales for your work, and you must constantly force yourself to produce, always produce. You must really be a self-starter who can crack the whip at yourself and say “Sorry, no,” to all the people who believe you sit around with tons of free time since you “don’t have a job.”

Darren: As far as technology goes, what type of computer and software have you been using?
Some fancy apps or just the basics? What other reference materials do you use or suggest?

Rick: My MacBook Pro is my go-to piece of equipment. It goes where I go. My main writing programs are the standard MS Word for most manuscripts, and for screenplays I use Final Draft, which is specially designed to facilitate formatting scripts.

For anyone interested in references for writing screenplays, I constantly referred to The Screenwriter’s Bible, by David Trottier. That reference work got my script into the 10 Finalists. You can also find and download screenplays of my many movies for free. Each one is it’s own lesson on script writing.

Darren: I know your website has really evolved over the past few years. Any advice there?

Rick: Mine isn’t as fancy as many others. I’ve tried to keep in mind that most visitors don’t care about the author. They want to know, “What’s here for me?” that one fact will shape what you include on an author site.

Darren: Where is your favorite place to write? Where do you find your creative energies flow the most?

Rick: I like to go places where I can work, yet still be around people, such as the local library, or a favorite coffee shop.

Darren: Are you involved in the ACFW in Michigan?

Rick: Yes, I’m the Secretary for the Great Lakes Chapter.

Darren: Well, I’ve enjoyed diving deeper into the world of Rick Barry, and I hope our readers have enjoyed reading what you’ve been up to since leaving Indiana. Thank you for taking time to bring us all up to speed. We are looking forward to more publications from the desk of Rick Barry!

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  1. It's so wonderful to be back...actively. Life events have kept me away from what I love to do: Write. What better way to start than visiting with an old friend and writing mentor!

  2. I really enjoyed this article. Rick Barry gave writers some great information Thank you and God Bless!

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Catherine. Blessings to you, too!

  3. So glad to get an update on Rick! Thank you, Darren.

  4. I've been wondering what Rick was up to, and this interview is a delightful answer. God bless you in caring for your dad and in your writing, Rick.