What I’m after.

May 24th, 2009


I am fortunate, especially in this economy, to have an excellent salaried job. I’d like to keep it for a good many years yet. Keep that firmly in mind as you read the next bit.

What I’m after in my career is writing lots of books. That’s it.

Now, I enjoy teaching and public speaking and research and working on marketing projects and helping customers and attending conferences and “other duties as assigned.” I also enjoy exercising and listening to music and spending time with my family and having long conversations with friends. Hey, I enjoy life.

But the thing that’s been waiting for me for as long as I can remember is writing books. Part of the reason I restarted this blog is to make sure my writing chops are where they should be — like Jerry Rice running sprints in the off-season. Some of the books I want to write dovetail beautifully with my day job, so I’m laying groundwork in that direction. And my academic work has already pointed me toward a couple of books that could do something more than show up in other academics’ footnotes.

What isn’t going to work is for me to do things the same way I’ve done them. Why? Because I’ve tried that . . . and no books were forthcoming.

So, what am I doing differently now?

  • Setting aside the idea that books come after projects A and B and C and D et cetera. Items A through D likely will get done long before Walker’s First Work hits the shelves at your local bookstore, but they have to happen in parallel — interwoven — with the writing of the books.
  • Rebuilding my to-do list from the ground up.
  • In general, showing more chutzpah, which mostly means being audacious whenever I’m feeling aversive about writing.

Your life is like your house: you can put the furniture wherever you want it to go. So there’s no sense in complaining if it’s not situated as you’d like it to be.

Or, to put it another way, if something’s a priority for you, act like it.

Are you putting your real interests first? Even if (as with me) it will take years for them to come to fruition?


Photo by Ginny, used under a CC-Share Alike license.

12 Responses to “What I’m after.”

  1. What I’ve Learned So Far » Blog Archive » Making a list and checking it twice. Says:

    […] WordPress var sc_project=1503374; var sc_invisible=0; var sc_partition=13; var sc_security=”ec3dc4f7″; « What I’m after. […]

  2. What I’ve Learned So Far » Blog Archive » Rocking the keynote Casbah. Says:

    […] Part of it is ambition. Keynoters get the headlines, for themselves and their companies. They get more attention and respect. If there are fees to be had, they get the biggest ones. In the long run, I want all of these things, and it won’t hurt my feelings when I can subsidize my children’s education and my writing habit with my proceeds from speaking. […]

  3. What I’ve Learned So Far » Blog Archive » Little by little erodes the stack. Says:

    […] This is the stack of 10-12 papers that I worked through and discarded first thing this morning. For many years I’ve had the bad habit of proliferating notes, drafts, outlines, to-do lists, . . . et cetera. It’s clear to me that I won’t live up to my stated career goal for as long as I do this, because I lose too much time and energy shuffling between one thing and another. So I’m doing something about it, rectifying the chaos one sheet at a time. […]

  4. What I’ve Learned So Far » Blog Archive » Shorter timeframes. Says:

    […] Distractions kill me. Giant multi-part projects stymie me, even though, as you’ll recall, my career ambition is to write books. (Irony much?) But I can crank out great work when I can do it quickly and then switch to something else. […]

  5. What I’ve Learned So Far » Blog Archive » Emerging from the Fog. Says:

    […] My major career goal remains the same: to write books. But if I stay as stuck as I have been, there’s no way I’ll ever be the book writer I want to be. Since I can’t bear the thought of that, I’m changing the way I act, even though I know it will hurt. […]

  6. What I’ve Learned So Far » Blog Archive » Putting Indulgence in Its Place Says:

    […] To turn the lens back on myself: I if say I want to write books, yet I let days go by when I flake off about writing, then I’m full of it. Writing books takes a lot of stubborn, focused work. Indulging my habits of laziness just won’t get it done, and it’s idle to think that they could — or, more to the point, that it’s okay to indulge those habits. […]

  7. What I’ve Learned So Far » Blog Archive » A life in books . . . and online. Says:

    […] Don’t get me wrong: I’m glad to make my living as an online writer, and I’m well aware of the trove of good stuff available online. But I also know that most of the very best stuff I’ve ever read has come in book form, and that I do my best thinking about what I read when the computer is turned off. Besides all that, it would seem to make eminent sense to up my intake of books if I want to up my output of books. So, an early resolution for 2010, one that I’ve already started on: read more books. […]

  8. What I’ve Learned So Far » Blog Archive » Should you keep having “the usual”? Says:

    […] But just now I was doing my normal morning routine, drinking coffee and poking around online, and it occurred to me how much (too much) I’ve cherished that feeling of “the usual” in other parts of my life — especially the parts where “the usual” doesn’t carry the freight for my bigger aims in life. […]

  9. What I’ve Learned So Far » Blog Archive » Why I Probably Won’t Finish My Ph.D. Says:

    […] At some point, the Big Goal — writing books — became more important to me than having the Ph.D. sheepskin. The books aren’t there yet (believe me, they’re coming), but that sense of priority abides. […]

  10. What I’ve Learned So Far » Blog Archive » The Buddy System Says:

    […] What shape this buddy system will take, I’m not sure. Heather and I are both used to writing for money, and of course writing books is a major life goal for me. But I’m betting we’ll come up with something sweet and figure out a good way to use blogging or Twitter or Facebook or carrier pigeon or some combination to spur each other on and convey our results, both to each other and to you, the hungry reader. […]

  11. What I've Learned So Far » Blog Archive » Writing about writing — or marketing, or social media, or management . . . Says:

    […] me mindful that I have bigger fish to fry over the long haul. I’ve made no secret that I want to write books for a living, but the daily grind sometimes leads me to lose sight of that goal. Talking about books, writing, […]

  12. What I've Learned So Far » Blog Archive » Doing the actual work. Says:

    […] I have a great corporate job, and in fact that part of my work is more rewarding than ever. But it’s no secret that, in the long run, I plan to write books for a living. […]

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