Saying Goodbye to My Corporate Career and Hello to My Calling: Becoming a Writer
Becoming a writer didn’t just happen. Becoming a writer was a transition, and as such, it happened over time. The first decision I made was to write a book. I ended my involvement with the last company I started in 2014. My partner, and the co-founder, wanted to grow the business—but I did not. Changes in the market were going to require some changes to our business model, and quite simply, I wasn’t up to it. We negotiated an amicable split. He continued with the business and has done well. I’m happy for him.
My wife and I had recently become empty-nesters and were looking forward to traveling together and spending more time in Charleston, where we had just purchased a home. These realities argued against starting a new business. What to do? I became a consultant, which I now believe is Latin for “can you raise me money.”
I took on a few consulting projects and enjoyed the work at the beginning. However, typically one of the following scenarios played out: (1) The business owner grew tired of the sound of my voice, (2) I grew tired of working for someone else, and my productivity likely waned, (3) raising money entails risks and the risks were not worth the reward, (4) I would complete the project, or (5) some combination of the above. Around December of 2016, I had wrapped up a consulting project and was looking for the next thing. Frankly, the thought of starting another project knowing it would be short-runned appealed to me only because the life of a consultant fit my desire to set my hours, travel, and work from either Charleston or Phoenix.
But, as for the work itself, I had no real interest.
I started talking about writing a book. I would finish reading a book and sometimes say, "what an incredible book." Other times I would say something like, “That book wasn’t very good. Good grief, I could write that.”
I must have talked about writing a book quite a bit, because my wife spoke up on the subject. One day she said, “Honey, you are so unbelievably smart and talented, I just know that if you set your mind to it, you could write a best seller.”
Actually, that is not the way it went at all. She said something more like, "Honey, I'm growing a little weary of you going on about how you could write a book, so either do it or move on.”
It was great advice. I’d show her! I decided to write a book.
About a week into the process, I had developed genuine admiration for people who wrote books that I had previously described as "not very good." The blank sheet on the desk loomed ominously.
I knew from my attendance at book signings and a thing or two I had read online that writers valued routine. Readers often asked authors where they wrote their books and if they had a favorite time of day to write. When I started the book, Lyn and I were in Charleston. Our home is small, the perfect size for the two of us, but it had no room for an office. So, I ventured up King Street to a building housed by the Charleston Library Society and only ten minutes by foot from our home. I would pack a backpack with my laptop, legal pads, and pens and head to the library. My wife would wave and say something encouraging and funny as I headed out the door, and I would be on my way.
The Charleston Library Society resides in a beautiful old building with high ceilings, rows of carols lined with books, and a marvelous collection of rare books. I love libraries, likely because of the countless hours I spent in them as a high school and college debater. I walked into the library, one of the oldest, continually operating privately owned libraries in the country, and I knew I was at home. I inquired about joining and promptly handed over my credit card; this was the cheapest office rent I had ever paid—and for the finest office. This was going to work. I walked over to a large table and unpacked my backpack, and after a couple of minutes, my laptop was fired up and connected to the library wifi. Pens and legal pads were placed side by side, and I was poised, ready to write a book.
Over the preceding months, and in preparation for this day, I read books and blogs about writing books, compelling narratives, and the pros and cons of writing from one point-of-view over another. Would I write my book in the first-person, third-person omniscient, or third-person limited voice? I was a finance major, for Pete's sake. I had spent the last 30 years concerned with ROI and Offering Memorandums. As evidence of my dedication, I had filled legal pads with notes, three to be exact, with story and character ideas.
But how does one go about writing a book when you have never done it. How do you start?
Two hours later, frustrated, discouraged, and hungry, I stood up and exited the library onto the sidewalk and began walking, hands in my pockets and nowhere in particular. “What the hell was I thinking.”
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!