An Unauthorized Autobiography of W. Bruce Cameron
One of the main things I like about the following autobiography is that it’s not written posthumously. Another attractive feature is that, because it is written by me, I’ve been able to take certain “artistic liberties” in order to make me seem more “good.”
I was born in 1960 in Petoskey, MI. Well, more like 1968. 1970. I was born in 1982. So I’m what, nearly 30 years old. Actually I’m 25, so whenever you have to be born in order to be 25, that’s when I was born. Can we just get on to the good stuff?
All right, so I was born and was very popular. I deny that when I was three my mother had to pin a note to my sweater that said “please do not feed Bruce cheese.” Stories about me being 6 years-old and getting beaten up by a little girl two years younger miss the point that she was a very mean little girl. I never once tried to completely murder my sister; my aim was to kill her just a little. No jury would have convicted me once I showed them evidence she had stolen my baseball and left it out in the rain. Well, no jury of nine-year-olds, anyway.
Reviewing what I’ve just written, I’m concerned that I’m not coming off as well as I intended. I should probably delete the above paragraph and start over, except that as a professional writer, I strive to be lazy. Let’s just stipulate that I had a wonderful childhood because I was a wonderful child.
Other boys wanted to be ball players, astronauts, and soldiers, except for a guy named Paul who always talked about “doing something in fashion.” (This was sort of a tough thing for third graders to understand, but oddly, Paul did go into fashion, while nobody else from my school attained their dreams, though several of them have had glowing reviews from their probation officers.)
Anyway, I never wanted to be a ball player or any of these things, I wanted to be a writer. I actually sat down in fourth grade to write a novel and made it through 26 pages before my hand gave out. It was about a boy who grew up in "a small town in Chicago." (I didn't actually know what Chicago was.)
I was a star athlete in high school, as evidenced by the fact that my football uniform was spotlessly clean. In fact, it was so well maintained that it would be easy to conclude I’d never even worn it, except for the fact that all of my classmates remember me running for touchdown after touchdown, often hopping on one foot just to make it more fair. I was so talented that even the other team would cheer for me, and often both the offense and defense would leave the field, figuring it would be more entertaining for the crowd to just sit there and watch me run around.
I was elected both prom king and queen. My date to senior prom was the cast of Charlie’s Angels, except of course for that Bosley guy, and probably also not Shelley Hack because that perfume commercial still haunts me to this day. My classmates voted me “best.” I got tired of them always carrying me around on their shoulders.
When I was 16 years old, the worst thing happened: I sold the very first short story I ever submitted anywhere. The Kansas City Star paid me $ 50.00, which sadly remained the most I was ever paid for a story until around 1995. It was the worst thing because it convinced me this writing thing was going to be really easy.
Guess what? It’s not easy.
When I graduated from high school there was some concern I might not go to college because I already knew everything. Many people thought I should be made president or king or something, and Harvard and Yale unanimously voted that even were they to merge, the combined school “still wouldn’t be good enough” for me. I eventually decided to attend an all-male liberal arts college in the Midwest, which I can’t believe even as I am saying it. What was I thinking? Of all the activities I was interested in, the words “all male” never figured into any of them.
Okay, I’ve gotten negative again, which seems to happen whenever I stray too close to what might irresponsibly be called “truth.” Back to what matters: after turning down offers to join the Rolling Stones, to quarterback for the Miami Dolphins, or to be given France, I settled in for a remarkable stint as a college student who could write complex essays with such ease that professors often said it was as if I hadn’t even read the book I was writing about. I was the editor of the literary magazine and the student newspaper, which, contrary to my expectations, did not lead to a greater incidence of sexual intercourse. I wasn’t president of my fraternity because that would have been too obvious and anyway I lost the election, but I was social chairman, a position of great power and influence over beer.
The school was Westminster College and the fraternity is Sigma Chi. There, you can’t claim this autobiography doesn’t have facts in it.
With college in the rearview mirror, I became a freelance writer. This didn't pay for much of anything, so I embarked on a course which was to set the pattern for my writing life: I got a day job to support my writing habit. In my life, I've driven an ambulance; repossessed cars; sold life insurance, wine making equipment, and men's clothing; programmed computers, and analyzed financial statements. I've had titles like Collection Manager, Director of Operations, Director of Human Resources, VP of Sales, and, my all time favorite, Chief Knowledge Officer. I've worked for small companies like Baan and weird ones like Resume Network America. I worked for General Motors during its heyday, where “heyday” means “a perfectly good company was run into the ground.”
And through it all, I wrote. At one point I started getting up at 4:30 a.m. in order to write before heading off to my day job. It was hard to get by on so little sleep — let’s just say you don’t have to be bitten by a zombie to become one.
In 1995 I started an on-line Internet column. I began it with six subscribers, four of whom were related to me or were me. I asked people to pass it along to others if they liked it, and they did. At its peak, the Cameron Column had 40,000 subscribers in 52 countries, if you count Texas as a country.
I showed my columns to the Rocky Mountain News and in 1998 they began featuring me weekly in their Home Front section. Before long I was considered one of their most popular columnists, even more of a reader favorite than the woman who wrote about birds, though not as popular as the one who wrote about wine, oddly enough. I use the past tense because the Rocky Mountain News is now out of business, I am so, so sad to say.
A column I'd written, "8 Simple Rules for Dating my Teenage Daughter," was crazy popular, so I turned it into a full book on the subject. Workman Publishing put the book into the stores in May 2001 and response was simply astounding. Though the last three cities on my book tour were completely out of books, it hit #14 on the NY Times Bestseller List and was still on its way up when the first printing sold out. Crazed book buyers nearly toppled the government.
My national media included a CNN profile filmed entirely in the dangerous territory of my daughters' bedrooms, a People profile, USA Today Weekend, the CBS Early show, some national radio, John Walsh, Iyanla, Wayne Brady, The Other Half, and CNN Headline News. I did countless radio shows and local television news shows. I have had many media producers tell me I am welcome to come back any time. People find me funny and engaging and I have excellent personal hygiene.
Oliver North (bet you didn't see this coming!) took an interest in 8 Simple Rules for Dating my Teenage Daughter because he has a teenage daughter. He had me on his radio show and introduced me to Creator's Syndicate, which picked me up in October 2001. In 2011 I was named Newspaper Columnist of the Year by the NSNC. My column is currently in hiatus.
Meanwhile, I've been doing some public speaking. I'm not a stand up… well, I can stand up, I have two legs and everything, but I mean I am more of a corporate speaker than the type of person you would see in a night club or any place where popular people hang out. 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter became a TV show on ABC and is still on the air some places, including my dentist’s office.
So having written about a basic truth (dads don’t understand their teenage daughters) I came up with another one: women want to change men. How to Remodel a Man was a national bestseller, got me on Oprah, Good Morning America, countless radio shows… my fifteen minutes of fame were really fun!
Okay, another truth: Dads don’t understand weddings, brides, or why he is supposed to march down the aisle and hand over his daughter to some stranger. Yes, 8 Simple Rules for Marrying my Daughter.
When it came time to go back to my first love, fiction, I followed the tried-and-true formula of sticking with the truth: Dogs are wonderful creatures. A Dog’s Purpose and A Dog’s Journey, the sequel, were both NY Times Bestsellers.
I also wrote a novel entitled Emory’s Gift, of which I am very, very proud. It’s an allegorical tale, set in 1974, about a boy named Charlie who loses his mother and needs to come up with something to help heal his family. What he decides on is most unusual.
I’ve written, along with my screenwriting partner (who is also my wife, I finally talked her into it!) the movie version of A Dog’s Purpose, which is being made by DreamWorks. We also wrote the movie Cook Off!, currently in post-production, and the movie 40 Happens, which my wife directed and which will be in theaters in 2013.
Future projects: In the fall of 2013 you can expect to see The Dogs of Christmas on bookshelves. After that, well, I am assuming I’ll keep writing. Isn’t that what I’ve always done?
Allow you to introduce me:
Introducing me at a meeting or a function? CLICK HERE to download a short biography of Bruce Cameron you can use as a template for your introduction!