I left the world of regular paychecks in 2006 to follow the urge to write. My colleagues thought that I was nuts, especially when I told them how low my money-making expectations were. There came a point, however, when the books in my head gave me a needed come-to-Jesus speech. “If we are going to be finished, you’d better start filling the pages.” Of course, they were correct.
In my corporate/career days, I had read what Peter Drucker said about time being the only limited resource in the managerial workplace. More money was possible. More personnel could be arranged, too. The hours that any one person could dedicate to anything, however, are limited. If it applies to business, it also applies to art. How many people have told you that they have a book in their head, or a fantastic plot (and would you like to write it for them)? My quick, but not often spoken, answer is: I have enough of my own plots already, thank you.
My initial goal was to write a novel a year, and here I am six years out. Well, the time-manager in me says that an evaluation is in order. The statistics have been tabulated and I now have an answer for my grandchildren when they ask, “Grandpa, what did you do all those years after you stopped working?” (That’s a big hurdle, isn’t it? It’s a matter of getting your own gray matter to stop synapsing around the idea that work=money!) In six years, I wrote six novels (YES!), but I also wrote three books of poetry, two non-fictions, and a children’s book (after all, Grandpa has to be good for something). This year was actually my best with two novels (catch-up time) a poetry collection, and two novellas that are still strings of ones and zeros on my computer.
So how’d I do? As a business person, I totally suck! In short, I am still happy with my choice to be a writer living in obscurity. Oh, I have some little successes (two titles, one novel and one poetry anthology, are permanently cataloged in the Library of Congress). I won a poetry prize, and, every once in awhile, I get an email from a reader who doesn’t know me from David Baldacci or Nicholas Sparks (actually, they know very well that I’m neither of them–I just wanted to put my name in a blog with writers who have street cred!) I’m more like my ninety-three year old father who has macular degeneration and can no longer read. He has a shelf for my books, the ones that he’s never been able to decipher. I’m leaving a shelf of books for my grandchildren. They can’t read most of them yet either, but someday they might. If they do, I hope that they realize that my greatest gift to them was permission to let imagination create possibilities. I’ll never be a bestselling author, but after six years, I unashamedly call myself “a writer”.
Causes Robert Smith Supports
Doctors Without Borders, Habitat for Humanity, Presbyterian Disaster Relief