Since I retired from a decades-long career on October 25, 2013, to begin a new one as an author, the single question people ask more than any other is, “How’s the writing going?”. What follows is part answer to that question, part diary, and part self-evaluation:
- I don’t miss the business world in the slightest. I was very good doing highly technical work, and made a lot of money at it. But working creatively every day, by writing, puts me in a completely different mental space. And it’s a better place. At this point, I was better at my old career than I am at writing. With hard work, that will change. But I wouldn’t go back for anything.
- I never understood why there would always be so many people with laptops hanging around coffee shops (other than free wifi?). Now, Kaldi’s in Chesterfield is my favorite place to write. I grab a big comfy chair, play Jeff Gutt (X-Factor runner up, 2013 – check him out!) through my iPhone headset, and go into my own little world. I love the bustle going on around me, so I don’t feel like I’m alone in a cave. There’s just something about being able to isolate in a crowd that lets me write better than I do anywhere else.
- Having run a successful company, I understand how to schedule my time and prioritize tasks. Or at least, I thought I did. I’ve been surprised that I’ve struggled to maintain the proper balance between writing, reading, and social media, along with the rest of my life. It was easier on the old job, where I’d built routines over many years. This is so new, I have focus more to make sure everything gets the attention it should. For instance, starting this week, I’ve cleared absolutely everything from my morning schedule. From now on, between eight and noon, the only thing I do is write. No exceptions.
- In the beginning, I suppose I thought of writing as just telling stories. Or more precisely, coming up with a good story. To me, coming up with plots and stories is easy. Creating emotional reactions for the reader is where the “real” writing takes place. I’ve got work to do.
- A lot of people have told me they’d like to be a writer, but express doubts that they’d ever be good at it. I’m convinced that becoming a good writer is dependent on the next three points (6, 7, & 8).
- Write a lot. Wanting to be a writer without writing a lot would be like a saying you’d like to run a marathon, but don’t really like running every day to get in shape. For writers, writing is how you get in shape.
- Read a lot. Reading provides needed perspective in so many ways. Without it, you’d be lost. Stephen King has mentioned that lots of people tell him they’d like to be writers, but don’t have time to read. To paraphrase his response, “Go get a job at Subway. You don’t have the tools.”
- Endurance. Writing is hard, and it is a marathon, not s sprint. Hank Moody (David Duchovny) on Showtime’s Californication is a cool guy, but I’m not sure when he ever actually writes anything. That’s why so many people start NaNoWriMo, but so relatively few finish.
- Like so many new writers, I started with the idea of going the traditional publishing route, and someday seeing my book on the shelf of the local bookstore (assuming they’re still in business…). On the other hand, there is a strong argument to be made for Indie Publishing (Self Publishing). I believe that if the writing is strong enough, it will find an audience, no matter the venue. Accordingly, I will likely begin with the Indie side, just so I can keep my focus on improving the quality of my writing, rather than the marketing aspects of selling my work to publishers.
- My initial focus was on writing a novel. I wrote it, and it’s stored away for another day. I’ve switched my focus to a series of short stories, which I plan to release either individually, or as a collection, sometime later this year.
To friends and family that care about how this adventure goes, thanks for following. To the aspiring writers in the crowd, go for it! To everyone else, thanks for reading, and now, “back to our originally scheduled programming.” (OP 2/26/2014)