That time I…wrote a book

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Ben Underhill, freshman theatre major, has been writing his whole life. He is currently the arts and entertainment editor for The Current.

Poetry has time and time again captured the fascination of humans. The whimsical feelings we get from poetry often evoke emotions we repress, something authors so often strive to do.

In August of 2015, I sent a text message to my best friend, Sal Fratto, at 3:30 a.m., telling him how much I love poetry and the reactions people have to my work. Since it was so late, I did not expect a response from him, but less than a minute later my phone lit up with a new notification We had an hour-long conversation about life and poetry, and eventually wrote a poem together via text message. Impressed with our creation, we were determined to continue creating. We agreed to write a book together.

We had the concept for our book. All we needed was a title and actual content. We brainstormed and shared poems we had already written.

Sal, the optimist and encouraging person that he is, said, “Dude, everyone on this earth is a [expletive] genius,” in response to one of the poems I sent him.

“It’s because we just keep approaching the unknown infinity,” I replied.

He quickly responded by suggesting we make “The Unknown Infinity” our title, but I wanted to highlight our collaboration and suggested the title we stuck with: “Everyone’s a Genius & We’re All Approaching Infinity.”

The creative process became a fluctuation of up days: finding past poems we wrote and writing new ones, and down days: formatting and research into publishing. Because we were so busy as seniors in high school, the book took a back seat in our lives.

Poem ideas came and went, shaped by impactful events in our lives. Heartbreak, loss and hope were the main focuses of our work, but often writer’s block took over. Some days it seemed as if we wouldn’t be able to finish the book, but we were determined to do so by the time we graduated high school. In a fashion true to our artistic intentions, we pushed forward and found inspiration in the smallest things. We used our determination to complete the book one month before graduating.

Sal mentioned our need to create a dedication. We sent names back and forth until we agreed upon a person that had touched both of our lives: our AP U.S. history teacher Charles Foti. Foti had ensured that along with Supreme Court cases, presidents, wars and the overall history of the United States, we learned life lessons in his class. He reiterated the importance of diversity, acceptance, freedom of expression and the importance of standing up for what we believe in. Taking these lessons to heart, we dedicated our book to him.
When we finally managed to get our collection of 52 original poems formatted, along with photography done by our friends, into a book, it was late April. Due to our lack of time, resources and money, we elected to self-publish our book through Amazon’s sub-company CreateSpace. The service allows us to have our book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s websites, as well as small retailers that chose to sell our book.

The feeling of being able to hold something you created is almost unmatched. Sal and I take great pride in knowing we took the initiative to publish the book and do what we can to market it, but knowing that we touched people’s lives through our work is what makes it worth it in the end.

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