Struggles and Triumphs of Writing My First Book

The biggest struggle I faced writing my book, was learning how to write English. As a business executive, writing quality reports to my superiors or clients proved easy. My mind and my ability to compose words melded. Words on the page jumped out at the reader. Magic would describe the process. I’ve heard that many touts at racetracks are illiterate, except when reading the racing forms or odds boards. For now, call me a semi-illiterate.

My effort to complete a mature work, connecting action to thoughts was passionate. Needed was instruction and serious practice. I scribbled compared to writing business reports. I tried to connect with an editor to help. When interviewing prospects, they looked at my drafts and politely said I had a long way to go. I knew the samples were poorly written. The problem went further: What are you talking about? The subject matter is incomprehensible. Find another editor.

I eventually found my writing coach and editor, Ian Leask, who understood my thinking. At first, our relationship worked similar to a TV show or movie, as if I roomed in an insane asylum. I wasn’t actually locked up in a cage in a guarded building. He role played, metaphorically being a doctor, dressed in a white uniform, visiting his patient in a locked room. After reviewing a draft I’d sent, his opening mantra was consistent; did I know what sort of rubbish I submitted? The time allotted listening to my response was limited to one minute. My nonsensical response was to understand why the chapter I submitted had so many editing marks on the margins. Hearing his response, I dared not ask at what grade level my writing belonged. I needed strength to rise above my doldrums. Compose good sentences and logical paragraphs; you’ll be set free from the asylum and allowed to live with your family. That was the agreement.

Finding time to write the novel was a major struggle. Time priorities changed dramatically as the day progressed. After morning coffee, I planned to put myself in front of a computer and work. When the time came to type, awaiting my attention were unread emails along with a list of phone calls. I cringed saying to myself, I reinvented myself. I’m an author. What are these distractions? The communications were sent from clients: “Leonard, it’s Bob Reynolds. I’ve been on the Internet and saw you made changes to my portfolio. Could you please explain them?” I couldn’t ignore the call. Client fees were my financial support to pay household bills and allowed me time to write. And my children. “Hi Dad. How are things? I’m having a problem understanding my auto insurance. Can you call me and help unravel it?” After putting out all the brush fires, it was time for lunch.

Motivation to work hard and not slacken was my triumph. It came unexpected. I walked into a Borders Book Store and there, on a header, was a book authored by someone I knew well. We were business associates. Outside of business, he never impressed me as someone who had extra time to research and write a book. A sign on an easel announced the dates of his book signing. I was nonplussed.

His book was about his drug addictive life and recovery. There were tons of those stories on the shelf. I skimmed through a copy. It was okay: written, and well edited. To his credit, he found a publisher. I envied what he accomplished. I ran into him at a business conference and inquired about his book. He told me all about how he lined up all the writing and publishing tasks. His response could be consolidated in a book titled, How to Write and Publish a Book Without Any Real Effort. Of the many adages in my head, one ran, ‘If he can do it, so can you.’ It’s corny, but it worked for me.

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