A Little Tidbit About My Past

No. Not that tidbit. That one, well...perhaps another time. This tidbit is far less salacious but may be interesting of note to a few.

Motivation for writing has to come from somewhere.  My motivation for obtaining a book contract was driven by a desire to find the most effective way to visit Europe on somebody else's dime. In fact, there may have been a bet between my friends and myself that could confirm this, if fifteen years hadn't dulled our collective memories. My friend remembers the discussion, but not the bet. Ah well.

Some context is absolutely necessary here, lest you think me boorish and overly privileged. This was roughly 2002, and I had just reached the other side of a physically traumatic health incident.  The costs associated with this had evaporated my savings, and I had just started a temporary job that I thought might lead to more long term employment (It didn’t). An lower-middle class, and yet uncertain future was directly in front of me.

My friends and I sat at a diner around DuPont Circle and pointed this out. “So. What next?” they asked.

 I thought for a moment and said, “I’ve always wanted to go to Europe.”

 It was pointed out to me that money and I didn’t always see eye-to-eye.

I likely shrugged and thought about it for a second or two. “I’ll write a book and use the advance to pay for it. Or the royalties. At a minimum, I could write off the expenses on my taxes.” The idea came out so sudden. I hadn’t shared that idea with anyone up until that point and time.

What my friends should have done was laugh me out of the diner. Either they found the premise reasonable, or if they thought if anyone could do this, I could. It was likely both. Regardless, I took their lack of concern as approval. After that point, I pursued this goal with a fair amount of thought and energy. I spent most of 2003 thinking of a plan, and then implementing it.

This blog was the first step of that plan. The book contract offered in 2007 wasn’t the ends that justified my means. It was the airplane landing in Dublin, Ireland in 2008 that did that. The books published in 2009 and 2012 were almost incidental.

I now hear a few of you groaning to yourself. I get it, I do. I make it sound like this was some sort of lark on my part. I pursued a book deal, not by the need to get words out on the page nor the desire to see my name in print. I pursued a book deal in order to see Paris. It’s perhaps shallow, but it is true.

This is the part where I think I learn my lesson.

First, I learned how much I enjoyed the process of writing. Not the promotion, not the reader interaction, not even the business itself; the process of researching, finding something interesting to say, and then have an 80,000 word product of that effort is immensely satisfying, more so than anything else I have done in my life. I’ve never had a high so much as the one seeing my book in finished format. And note that I have a variety of points of reference that illustrate just how blissful that event can be.

Second, ultimately I think it doesn’t matter what reason one uses to pursue a book deal. Saints and sinners all receive book deals, and ultimately it is up to the publishers to decide what they believe will make them money. Paris Hilton? Book deal. Donald Trump? Book deal. Guy Fieiri? Book deal.

With that being said, my final point is that the quality of my work was very likely affected by being distracted by the entire process, and benefits they afforded. I didn’t quite figure this out until the second book was published. But once I saw it, I couldn’t unsee it.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m immensely proud of the books. But I also know they could be improved upon to some degree or another.

This is what I wish to bring to the table on this go around. Call it “intent”, call it “self-awareness”, call it whatever.  But if the challenge here is for me to be happy, then this is most certainly a variable that should be accounted for.