Saying Goodbye to My Corporate Career and Hello to My Calling: Learning From My Past
Six months into the writing process, and I could not call myself a writer.
I was still entertaining business opportunities. I wanted to do both—consult and write. I imagined a life comprised of perfectly curated weeks—20 to 25 hours consulting, and the rest of the time divvied up between playing golf and writing a best seller. Hell of a plan! So, in the Fall of 2017, I took a position with a real estate developer. I kept at it for 18 months, and I played golf along the way, but the writing suffered.
The consulting gig took up more and more time. I would put the book down and not return for two or so weeks. All momentum was lost. I researched and wrote, but the story was languishing. I was pushing paper from one side of the desk to the other, nothing more. I was genuinely hoping I could pull it off—do what I was comfortable doing—working my old skill set while doing something I had never done... write a book. By March of 2019, I had worked myself out of a position with the real estate developer. The assigned project was complete and I was ready to move on.
But yet, I still couldn’t commit myself to the life of a writer. Two good friends of mine introduced me to business opportunities, and I worked them very hard. In a nutshell, I kept thinking I could do both—write and work in the old profession. But the reality was that I was tired of doing what I had been doing. I pursued both jobs at the same time, secretly fearing one of them could materialize. I was scared to let go of what I knew, even though I doubted I would find any joy in the work—and I was afraid to jump all in on writing a book.
As I have said, I pray a lot, and I was praying that the Lord would deliver the right job for me. He answered my prayer. Neither company offered me a job. I had no job prospects, but I knew my life priorities had changed when instead of being disappointed, I was relieved.
I was relieved because in those moments when I was honest with myself, I knew that by pursuing those two jobs, I was chasing something I did not want.
I chased nonetheless because both positions fit perfectly with how I still envisioned myself or, or more accurately, how I hoped others saw me—as a successful businessman, a deal maker, a doer.
The job I was meant to embrace at that point in my life was that of a writer. Part of me felt I was latching onto the project as a life preserver. I must do something with my life! But, as time progressed, I didn’t just go all-in in terms of my time commitment; I embraced the project. I stopped looking for the next big thing. I received a couple of phone calls and emails about a prospect or two, and I politely said thank you, but I passed.
It was now June of 2019. I handed my wife a completed manuscript the following February. Six months later, after working with two editors and a consultant, the book was ready for publication—and so on September 15, 2020, the book was available for purchase. I can’t tell you how ecstatic I was.
When I look back, writing a book was not such a stretch from what I had been doing. First, it appealed to my desire to create and solve problems. Folks in the business world do not get enough credit for being creative.
All too often, when we think of someone as creative, we think of the arts. But I have met some of the best problem solvers and most creative minds in the business world.
Creativity is required when designing effective and competitively priced packaging, developing a new business model, or when writing clear and concise installation instructions or an honest investor pitch that captures the imagination.
I also found that my prior business world experiences helped me write my book. Whenever I entered a new business, I would immerse myself in the industry. I would read widely, attend tradeshows, and talk to vendors, customers, and competitors. I did the same thing when I approached writing a book. I read a great deal, spoke to a few authors, and when it came time to publish, I interviewed numerous vendors. I was also able to incorporate some subject matter expertise I picked up along the way into my book. You will find a subplot in my story involving some shady real estate lenders. I could not have written this part of the book without having witnessed some audacious attempts at fraud.
If you are contemplating writing a book or taking on a project one would describe as creative, here is something else I learned: If I relied upon inspiration alone to get me across the finish line, I never would have finished. Do not underestimate the importance of everything else you bring to your current job, such as time management skills, diligence, organizational skills, etc. The trick for me was learning to apply my skill set to writing a book while trusting in the process, which was to 'just write and knit the story together later.' This exercise required discipline and trust.
So, if you met me today and asked me what I do, I have a simple answer.
Paul was born and raised in the Atlanta, Georgia area. Paul and his wife, Lyn, met in college at Georgetown University and were married after Paul graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law. They moved to Phoenix, Arizona in 1988 where Paul embarked on a thirty-year business career before retiring so he could write fiction. Paul and Lyn raised three children together in Phoenix and now split their time between Phoenix and Charleston, South Carolina.
Blood in the Low Country is Paul Attaway’s debut novel. Writing this book, along with the move to Charleston, is a coming home of sorts, a return to the South. The history and culture of America’s South is rich, complicated, at times comical, sad, tragic, uplifting, and inspiring. Paul hopes that his novels can capture even a small bit of this tapestry. Learn more about Paul Attaway, and purchase his book, here: https://www.paulattaway.com. Find the audiobook on Audible, Amazon, or Apple Books!