“The first draft of anything is shit.”

Updated: Mar 6

Do even the very best books start this way?

Image by Monica Volpin from Pixabay

"Real seriousness in regard to writing is one of two absolute necessities. The other, unfortunately, is talent." Ernest Hemingway said that.



The Night Police will be in print as an e-book, followed by hard and soft copies and POD starting March 24, 2020!


It’s getting exciting to be sure but we recognize there’s still some heavy lifting to pull this all together

My co-author Paul and I have talked for hours about how we got to this place in our on again, off again writing careers. One thing we can agree on is that it wasn’t for lack of trying or a lack of ideas.

As you’ll see later in this post, our ideas have not always been on the mark. Sometimes the mark was no longer even visible, left bobbing in the wake of some hideous idea that seemed fucking brilliant at the moment it was hatched.

We’ve tried our hands at different styles, techniques, approaches, genres, and methodologies to get our thoughts to paper. There have been lame and undignified attempts, the ludicrous and even some indecorous and unseemly efforts. Such I guess, is the nature of learning the craft.

I assume if you’re reading this, there’s a chance you’re on the same or a similar journey. Writing a must read book appears to have it's complications. Depending on your perspective it might feel like a tedious, difficult job, a labor of love or perhaps it’s even your Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, “Twist and Shout” parade moment. We lean towards the latter.

We've tried writing short stories, long stories, fiction and non, poems, song lyrics and have enjoyed some gargantuan rants occasionally. The screenplay we had optioned in H-wood was a huge effort but in the end, it wasn‘t much. Curiously, some studio reader in Tinseltown took a run at it and thought it might have a chance. Judging by the number of checks we cashed, he or she was incorrect. It was, however, the first significant writing effort we’d ever taken from concept to completion. That was huge, it sustained us for a long time.

Here’s a short example of that effort. Almost 30 years later and I find it painful to look at. And we thought this would be our ticket to the big time.



During the great Hollywood career that wasn’t, I met some interesting people. I also met many, many people I would generously describe as self-absorbed dickheads, simple assholes and an assortment of accomplished douchebags. It’s not because our efforts went unproduced, I just didn’t enjoy a lot of the folks I met in that business. Current events haven’t improved my outlook on that industry.

One of the contacts we made was a Producer at Sony Pictures. As they say, we took several meetings with him and he encouraged us to just keep at it. We got into a discussion about pitching story ideas, it appears that’s gold in that world. We agreed that we’d pitch him ideas about feature films and/or TV shows. He didn’t give a shit about the quality, he wanted original ideas. Well, not really original ideas, he wanted ideas with the requirement that there be a twist in them that would make them sound like original ideas. You know… The Beverly Hillbilly’s meet Apollo 13.

Over the course of two or three years, we pitched him over 250 ideas. It appears they were as crappy as we thought they were but we just assumed they wanted the drivel as pitched. To convey our profound discomfort with our efforts, we’ll parcel out a few of these pitches so you might share in the torment these memories produce. Discount their merit or lack thereof, they were attempts to find a niche where we could/might write for a living.


These are easily 20 years old and you’ll see that by the subject matter. If I could come up with further excuses and caveats to pre-empt criticism, believe me, I would, but I’m sure you’d see right through it. I’ll stipulate that these are pitiful.  

#114. A divorced, alcoholic cop, a 25-year veteran of the force, a homicide ‘dick’. The cop deals with the usual alcoholic issues, hangovers, blackouts ...blackouts and rotten relationships. He gets assigned one more routine investigation. The twist....the more information he develops the more he sees himself as the prime suspect. It’s looking like he may have committed murder during one of his blackouts. He has a moral dilemma...does he clear the case and himself... or finish investigating and turn himself in.


#17. What if Marilyn Monroe didn’t commit suicide at all? What really happened was, with the help of the Kennedy brothers/machine, they faked the suicide to help her escape her own notoriety and to further their love interest. She was whisked away to Rio and set up for life. In the aftermath of the brother‘s assassinations, the clan continued to support her to avoid exposure of the truth. Marilyn’s secret is eventually discovered by a Brazilian businessman who decides that the best way to increase his net worth [and that of the gold mining conglomerate which he owns] is to blackmail the Kennedy’s threatening to expose the whole sordid story. The Kennedy’s decide the appropriate action is to have the Brazilian businessmen terminated. What about Marilyn?

#202. A mild-mannered loser, a night manager for a security company, works to change his image. He stages crimes he can discover and make himself look like a super sleuth. This works well until he accidentally kills a young woman while setting up a crime. As he attempts to cover up the murder he realizes he’s being watched. Now he must commit another to remain free.

Now if you’ve hung on this long, you’d think tormenting you with one last example would be the last thing I’d do. You’d be wrong. We pitched the following to our producer aquaintance. We weren’t convinced this was clever, but hell we’d pitched worse he seemed to take an interest in.

#87. A scientist accidentally discovers that snails are really very intelligent creatures and make lovely pets.

Obviously pitching to Hollywood was not our forte.

As I mentioned I took a run at writing songs. I’d only written maybe 20 or 30 when it became clear that songs without music are really just poems. Since I appear to be tone deaf with zero musical ability, it would leave me a poet, at best. There was no way I wanted to be a fucking poet (apologies to those talented enough to be poets), even a lousy one. I did not want that nom de guerre.

In an effort at full disclosure, I’ll share the lyrics to a single song I wrote for my daughter. I kind of liked it and saw it as a country song. With no music to accompany it, I’m comfortable you won’t be lollygagging around the house with one of my lyrics running through your head for days on end. Hard to hear, harder to un-hear.

Just One Wish

Your five years old, the love of my life

That dazzling smile, that bright new bike

Your hickory hair, trails in the breeze

The grace of God can bring you to your knees

Homecoming week, the prom just passed

College-bound, it went so fast

“I’ll be careful Daddy”, “Don’t worry, please!”

The grace of God can bring you to your knees

You’ll grow up, my amazing girl

With ribboned hair, you’ll sparkle, you’ll twirl

If I could only change one thing

I’d make it a lifetime, until next spring

A mom again, how can that be?

It seems I just kissed your skinned up knee

Now you teach, “be good, don’t tease”

The grace of God will bring you to your knees

My little girl, fine mother and wife

I’m so proud, what you’ve made of your life

I still dream, hickory hair in the breeze

The grace of God brings this man to his knees

You’ve grown up, my amazing girl

It’s with dimmer eyes, but I still see

You’re ribboned hair, your sparkle, your twirl

If I could only change one thing

I’d make it a lifetime, until next spring

©, 2005, Chris Berg

Writing makes you vulnerable. Being a bad poet really doesn’t help.

The whole point of exposing this long, meandering road is that some writers find their way early on. It appears Paul and I are not early adopters. We needed to write. Write, write, write, write, write. This time, it all came together.


The affairs of The Night Police continue.




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chapter one of The Night Police!


© 2020 by Chris Berg & Paul James Smith.