Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Getting Here – My Path to Writing

The last installment in my series about the writing process and my Solid Ground writing journey.

My cowboy days
When I was a teenager, I believed I could be anything I wanted to be. In my twenties, I agonized over what exactly that was. During the decade of my thirties, I realized I knew, that I had always known. But by then I was forty, and I wore the handcuffs, financial and otherwise, of a business career I’d succeeded at but never really wanted. And now, at the tender age of fifty-one, I’m at long last publishing my first novel.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about chasing dreams — about the universal challenge we all face of figuring out who we really want to be when we “grow up,” then figuring out how the hell to get there, and finally making the life-altering decision to take the leap.

After graduating college with a degree in International Studies, I tossed my unframed diploma into a box and spent more than two decades working in the retail business world in a number of roles, both store-level and corporate. I knew I loved books — so Waldenbooks, Barnes & Noble, and eventually Borders, were the retail employers I chose.

In retrospect, while I sometimes wish I’d committed to a writing career earlier in life, I am grateful for the years I worked for these amazing booksellers. After all, they provided me with a more-than-ample living, a bevy of lifelong friendships, and Paul, my partner of more than ten years. Oddly enough, my accidental business career also gave me the enormous push I needed to finally chase my dream.

In March 2011, I was working as a District Manager for Borders Books in northern California. Unstoppable market forces had reshaped the book industry, and corporate bankruptcy was charging over the horizon toward the company. With a decent 401K balance and supportive family and friends, I jumped. I decided to quit my job and finally finish “that novel I’ve been workin’ on” (Family Guy fans will appreciate the reference). Six years and half a dozen drafts later, I published my debut novel, Solid Ground, with NineStar Press.

One mission accomplished,
more missions to go.
So, what’s the point of all this? Circumstances beyond our control shape our world? Chasing dreams is difficult? Never give up? Writing is slow tedious work?

All true, but maybe not the point.

The point is this: It’s never too late. Trust your instincts. Move at the pace you can. Build your life in the direction you want it to go. Peer over the edge, lean into it, and leap. Remember, you don’t have to know the whole route, just the next step or two.

Oh, one other thing, even if you get it all right, life won’t cooperate. The earth might shift. There is no solid ground. And that’s okay.

Jeff's first novel, Solid Ground, is available in print and ebook 
at AmazonBarnes & Noble, and other online retailers.

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