“If you knew the world was going to end in two days, what would you do?” the writer Sara Davidson was once asked. “Take notes,” she said without hesitating.
That’s me. The world as I knew it had ended, with a painful divorce I hadn’t seen coming, and I’d done what I’d always done to make sense of things. I took notes.
Many years later, perusing those notes, I could never pull myself away. “What a great story,” I kept thinking. “What an interesting way of putting a life back together from scratch.” By then I’d become a radio journalist, interviewing experts on career change. What struck me, thinking of my own career transition, was how much I’d accidentally done right.
Do-Over: An Accidental Template for Scaling the Abyss is that story. But I wasn’t a licensed career counselor or a celebrity. Getting an agent or a publisher interested in Do-Over would be a haul.
I thought about what marketing guru Seth Godin said, that one of these days everyone will be self-published.
I thought about Must Love Dogs author Claire Cook, who joined us on the radio show and talked about self-publishing as if it was just the greatest thing.
I thought about everyone from teen girls to older men who told me I had a responsibility to share Do-Over, that they “couldn’t put it down” and it should be “required reading” for anyone facing a similar transition.
I thought about that for years! Because, you see, I’m a stereotypical-enough writer that I craved the validation that comes with traditional publishing. I’d had three books published that way, and snared a Minnesota Book Award for one of them.
Wouldn’t self-publishing be a demotion?
Procrastination: A Writer’s Best Friend
Do-Over kept languishing on a computer drive. I wrote another book, about my diet, that people had been asking me to write. I even talked with an intellectual property attorney about what would become The Willpower Workaround, because I wanted to know if I should include brand names when I detailed what I ate. (Side note: No!)
Almost in passing I asked her what she thought about my idea to publish Do-Over myself.
“Why wouldn’t you?” she said. “You won a Minnesota Book Award. I know you can write.”
Is that what I was up to? Was I still looking for permission to share my work with the world? What a waste. And besides, The Willpower Workaround wasn’t going anywhere until I shared Do-Over. First things first.
So I made the leap. Converting a Word document to an eBook wasn’t the most fun I’d ever had, but I did it. Do-Over’s available on Amazon now, and I’ll never forget what my husband said as we held hands and looked at the preview before we pulled the virtual trigger. “It’s a book!” Darrell said. Yes. It is.
I became a new person in that moment, less attached to the form my work takes and more intent on sharing it.
Editor’s note: Maureen’s new book, The Willpower Workaround (which I had the privilege of editing), is currently in production—look for it later in April. Here’s a brief excerpt from a Huffington Post article Maureen published about the journey that led her to write the book :
Every diet book I’ve perused suggests you reward yourself for being “good” by letting down and having whatever you want for one meal — or even one day — a week. For someone like me, and maybe like you, that’s the undoing. I’m an “all or nothing” gal, and I could never get on top of what now seems an addiction to certain foods.
Maureen Anderson is a civil engineering graduate turned miserable cubicle dweller turned ridiculously happy—and healthy!— host of the nationally syndicated radio talk show, Doing What Works. She weighed seven pounds when she was born, and has gained an average of two pounds a year since. The Willpower Workaround is her fifth book.
Candace Johnson is a professional freelance editor, proofreader, writer, ghostwriter, and writing coach who has worked with traditional publishers, self-published authors, and independent book packagers on nonfiction subjects ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments to self-help and on fiction ranging from romance to paranormal. As an editorial specialist, Candace is passionate about offering her clients the opportunity to take their work to the next level. She believes in maintaining an author’s unique voice while helping him or her create and polish every sentence to make it the best it can be. Learn more here, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.