Coming up with an idea isn’t such a big deal. The real key is taking your idea, or even the germ of an idea, and getting it to the place where you can develop an actual product.
The process of researching, writing, and then publishing my own book was a major step forward for me. The early portion of my life was filled with lots of ideas. At one point, I had a book that had scraps of writing, lyrics for half-written songs, even various chord progressions to song snippets. I once even bought a four-track recorder to lay down song sketches with dual-tracked guitar parts. None of these ever ended up amounting to anything more than another series of unfinished projects.
I mentioned the “late bloomer” trajectory of my life in part I. There’s more to it than just merely being late to the game. Other factors have been present throughout my life that contributed to my lacking the ability to finish what I started. I have a much better handle on many of them now.
The idea for my baseball book came along at just the right time. As I indicated, sometimes things do seem to line up and the timing end ups being perfect, or at least pretty damn good. The flip side was that while independent publishing ended being a wise choice for me, it also created a proverbial perfect storm that all came together at the culmination of the project.
I’m actually offering a publishing boot camp a week from Saturday for prospective publishers, in Lewiston. I’ll be sharing everything I know with them; the good, the bad, and the ugly. I learned most of it from trial and error; like never layout a book in Word. I did, and I lived to laugh about it. I wasn’t laughing at the time in the summer of 2005, however.
I remember that summer very well. I was coaching in the Twilight League, a wooden bat league for Division III college kids. It was my third season running the club. Looking back now, I realize that I had too much going on. I was trying to balance multiple priorities that summer; my freelance writing, trying to acquire clients as a marketing consultant, and then the deadline of getting my book to the printer by August 1. All of this made me really cranky. Sometimes I took it out on my wife, other times on my son, and I even was a jerk to my ballplayers. All of them cut me slack, but looking back, it still makes me cringe a little bit.
Obviously, I managed to get the book to the printer, and everything turned out well. It’s easy now in hindsight to downplay just how tough it was for me to get to that place. I also recognize how razor-thin the line between success and being an utter flop really is.
Every day for nearly two weeks, I had to put in 14-16 hour days. We had an old Dell desktop that logged a lot of duty in the Baumer household. Sitting there in our living room, sweating during the oppressive summer heat and humidity, I wanted to quit several times each day. My wife, Mary, would come home and I’d tell her, “I can’t do this.” She always would say to me, “yes you can; you’ll figure it out.” And I always did. Sometimes it was after a restless night of 3-4 hours tossing and turning and then, getting up and the work-around I needed became all too clear.
Life is really a series of work-arounds. Rarely does everything go the way we script it to. When it does, we should just fall down on our knees and thank whatever deity, or life force that we subscribe to. The rest of the time, be prepared with a contingency plan.
That summer taught me a lot. It was the beginning of real, sustained growth that commenced a few years before. I reference that period in my writing from time to time, working at the large insurance dinosaur, planning my exit, because it was such a defining period in this journey of reinvention.
The past 10 years have been a period of real personal growth. It’s been a time that has offered many life lessons, about myself, the people that matter to me, and the things in life that are important.
I never would have gotten to this point if I hadn’t persevered and pushed through the difficult times back in 2004 and 2005, when I had little more than some vague hope and minimal self-confidence. I was truly faking it ‘til I made it.
Life still is tough. In some ways, the first few months of 2013 are the most challenging ones I’ve faced, but for entirely different reasons.
What I’ve learned from publishing books, and developing contingency plans in other areas of my life, is that success requires us to push through the resistance. Then, it’s clear sailing until that next tough patch comes along.