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  • Writer's pictureTravis J. Vanden Heuvel

Veteran Actor Launches New Gift Book Series: “Life…In a Word”

From Kevin E. West: Actor, Author, and Artist

The moments that led up to the inception of Kevin’s Dictionary: ‘ A Word’, or any idea, have happened to all of us at one time or another during school, or sports, at church or just in a friendly conversation. Spoken sentences go into your ear, and rather than just dissipating – they spark an idea! Anna Quindlen, said; “Ideas are like pizza dough, made to be tossed around.” I think its fair to say that probably 99.9% of the billions of daily ideas had by humans – get tossed around but then are left behind, but then again…

About the middle of October of 2007, one such idea came to me and – not only sparked – but stuck. While it did take almost 11 years for that idea to be published please know that the word, Persistence, isn’t in my book. When an idea just won’t leave you alone it’s probably best if you give in and just write the damn thing…so, I did.

‘Life…in a Word’ was conceived on an L.A. grey-skied fall day, while taking a stroll around Silver Lake, with my dear friend, Marc. We were engaged in our usual banter, which commonly jumped from anything political to debating about football team’s chances, to history – or more notably world history. Some of the humor in the conversation surrounded Marc, who was extremely well read but was challenged with natural street intelligence, but boy could he talk ad nauseam about anything. You see Marc was a Stanford educated doctor, who honestly read about five papers a day and had consumed more books in his lifetime than anyone I’ve ever met or likely will ever meet.

However, despite his intellect level, as it commonly is with men or boys almost any conversations can eventually go toward adult intimacy or fantasy. So Marc decides to share this story about a friend who very recently had a wonderful surprise experience. Marc thoroughly enjoyed the telling of this story and when he got to the end rather than many alternative words I could have chosen I blurted out; PERFECT…and we shared a huge laugh. We continued onward and the conversation drifted but my mind started multi-tasking. This moment became an idea and this idea-gnat in my head kept buzzing. For the next 10 minutes I began to naturally formulate a vision based on that word popping out of my mouth. Sure, in the moment, it fit perfectly but typically it wouldn’t really have been the typical response.

For the rest of our walk, I let the idea just sit there and permeate. I didn’t discuss the idea with Marc and once in my car the creative swirl of words n’ images furiously began. Seriously, if my brain had been being filmed it would’ve seemed like a bad montage from, Transformers. As the next few months passed I began to solidify the idea of what this would look like as a little coffee table – gift book. I started choosing words, thinking of my real life scenes, awesome memories, experiences and other random images. Having a bit of a photographic memory seeing things in pictures or vignettes is easy and ‘Life’ is a book of little scenes. I probably wrote the book six or seven times, switched out 10 words for 10 others, and then came up with all of the Companion books: Love, Politics, Sport, Religion, Home, School, Work, Travel & Food…in a Word.

I find it typical for any piece of creative writing to flow easy in the beginning, both in conception and execution, but a writing challenge is always just around the corner. My creative hell was editing the stories to be short enough in length while still maintaining a delightful read, each of which, ended with a surprise twist.

We all have a dictionary like this for our life, as has been mentioned in a hand full of my reviews, because we’ve all lived thousands of moments. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy mine as well as have the text conjure some cool memories and vignettes of your own. After all, it is true: “A picture is worth a 1,000 words – but sometimes a Word can be a whole new picture.” --Kevin E. West


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