When I set out in 1998 to make a midcareer change, Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours rule was still a decade away from being published in his book Outliers. Perhaps if I’d known what was required to acquire the skills to write well I never would have walked away from the comfortable corporate lifestyle.
I’d always fancied myself an artist, but never had the courage to pursue it. I ended up in the music business. Working with artists, I thought I understood their challenges. But until you put yourself on the line, you don’t have any idea what it’s really like to be that exposed.
Many people are drawn to the idea of the writing life—fishing with Castro, running with the bulls in Pamplona, hanging out like Hemingway in Key West drinking until dawn. I too was drawn to this idea, but I soon discovered writing is damn hard. No doubt Hemingway was gifted, but clearly, he also worked his ass off.
To be frank, I had no clue what it took to be a writer and I wandered down many dead ends. And yet not a single step was wasted. Each one ultimately brought me to this very moment.
At RobertStevenWilliams.com you’ll find songs, short stories, essays and blogs on a variety of subjects from relationships, love and yoga, to sports, politics and culture. My Year as a Clown, a novel, will soon be available. Here, I’ll also chronicle the path to publication.
The poet Edna St. Vincent Millay once said, “A person who publishes a book willfully appears before the populace with his pants down.”
During this journey to publication I had the privilege to meet some amazing artists, from Rosanne Cash to Barry Hannah, James Houston, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Suzi-Lori Parks. Each posses the courage of a warrior, and yet each stands willfully before the public with their pants down in hopes of making you feel something real.
I too stand before you now, pants down, hoping . . .