I almost didn’t finish writing and publishing my novel, Drawing Circles.
The damn book took me almost seven years to write and during that long, long time, there were two crucial points that I almost quit at—where I almost said, “Screw this…this isn’t going to work.”
The first time occurred when I had (what I thought) was an almost finished draft. An editor, (friend of mine) agreed to do me a favor. She was a screenwriter and she agreed to do a fairly exhaustive read-through. After she read that draft, her comments were, and I’m not paraphrasing, “This book is a mess and you really spent a lot of time on sh_t that doesn’t move the story forward.”
She was simply being honest, but I was crushed. My initial feeling was to place the big three-ring binder that she had handed back to me—the one with all of her brutally honest notes—into my closet, or into the garbage can. I started to feel like I had wasted a lot of time and I wasn’t a very good writer at all.
However, because of my scripting in life, in leadership and in sales, I just couldn’t quit without trying to fix the darn manuscript. So, I rolled up my sleeves and went to work, taking in all of my friend’s ruthlessly honest notes. I shifted into stubborn mode. I was going to somehow fix the story based on her feedback. I was going to fall out of love with some of the chapters that she said were, “completely useless,” and “bogged down the flow.”
It took another three months, but I processed her straightforward feedback and made the necessary changes. When I had what I thought was a much cleaner manuscript I handed it back to her. She still had some minor challenges with certain areas of the story, but also had some great praise for the way I had progressed as a writer.
The next step was to hire a professional editor—someone who edits fiction for a living. The gentleman I chose had been referred to me by one of my coaches. He lived on the east coast and had that ‘Philly’ thing going on. He had stellar credentials and I was excited about what he would do and say to help bring this book across the finish line. I contracted with him, sent him the manuscript and waited for his notes.
I received his notes via email while my wife and I were in the car driving from L.A. to Phoenix for a long weekend. She was driving so I popped open my laptop, scrolled to his email and started reading. I think my wife saw my face turn red. My newly hired editor had “problems” with my story. In fact, he wrote, “I’ve edited legal-related novels and have covered the court system for years. There are too many holes in your story. Your story has no credibility. In short, what you are saying happened, couldn’t have happened in real life. Anyone that knows the law knows that someone can’t just avoid paying federal restitution, etc…”
He went on and on about the holes in my story. Except, there weren’t any holes in my story. Even though the events in the story are hard to believe, it all happened. My fictional story was based on REAL events and I was there and I was witness (and a victim) to them and of them!
If a professional fiction/novel editor, someone who has extensive courtroom and legal system knowledge thinks my story (as outlandish as the people and events were) has “no credibility,” then what would the average reader think? My head exploded as we crawled through the desert on that Friday afternoon. I had wasted years and years trying to tell this story. My story was true—based on actual people and real events, but my editor didn’t even believe it. I wanted to throw my laptop and that F-ing three ring binder out the window of our Lincoln Navigator at 80 miles an hour, giving the story a sandy, cactus filled final burial somewhere in the Sonoran desert.
I just wanted to quit working on the book. I was exhausted by the whole process.
And then my wife said something. She reminded me that the story was true, and it DID all happen and it was a GOOD story and then she said, “And what if someone reading it doesn’t believe it, and who cares what the editor thinks. It’s a great story and it should be told.”
And that was all I needed to shift into stubborn mode again. I decided I would reach out to the editor and ask him more questions about the specific areas he felt lacked credibility from a legal perspective. I decided I would add any necessary fixes or bridges that would help him (and any other casual reader) understand how the perpetrator slipped through the cracks in the legal system.
I decided right then and there that I would complete and publish my book. I would finish the job I started. I made the decision that I would not be concerned who liked it or who didn’t. I decided that it ultimately made no difference to me who believed it and who didn’t. It was my story and I was going to tell it. Dammit!
So I completed my work with the professional editor. I helped him understand all of the nuances of the case and he helped me adjust a few points that would help the reader understand how the events could occur as well. The book was published. People seemed to like it. Amazon reviews on Drawing Circles
So what was it about my past…all of the sales and sales leadership stuff that made me want to finish the job? I think it may boil down to these three factors:
Finishing what you started builds CHARACTER
In those moments where we are tempted to just QUIT, our character is at stake. Our character is always in a state of flux. It varies with each decision we make. When we decide to push through our walls and finish what we started, we grow! We enhance our character in a positive manner. When the urge to quit comes along—and it will—you need to ask yourself, what type of person do I really want to become?
Finishing what you started tests our TRUE TALENTS
Regardless of what we think about the future, or ourselves, if we QUIT and simply walk away from the job at hand we will never truly know what we are capable of or what’s truly possible in our lives.
I certainly could have stopped writing that damn book and tossed the binder in the trash. My wife and daughter would have still loved me. Nobody would have really blamed me, but instead, I struggled through the process and came out on the other end with a darn good book! I started to realize my potential in the area of long-form writing. I actually did something that most professional writers have never done…become published in both the fiction and non-fiction categories. I pushed through my wall and learned a lot about myself in the process.
Finishing what you started IMPACTS OTHERS
The decision to finish the book wasn’t only a decision for me. I began to think about all of the people that had helped me, advised me and were rooting me on. I didn’t want to let them down or set a bad example for my young daughter. What lesson would she have taken away if ‘Daddy’ worked on a book for seven years and then just gave up?
There’s something on the line in every decision to finish the job that goes well beyond ourselves. Quitting not only robs you of needed character development, it also has an incalculable impact on those around us. The issue isn’t about winning or losing, but whether we’re willing to play full out. We can’t afford to cheat ourselves, or the people counting on us by walking away before the end of the journey.
So that’s my little story about how I almost quit writing the book, Drawing Circles.
I hope that before you just walk away before the job is finished, you can think about the impact it will have in your life.
Then, I know you will make the right decision!
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Joe Buzzello is a nationally recognized expert on the roles of direct selling, entrepreneurialism and leadership. He has built legacy sales teams and experienced unprecedented success in individual and business-to-business markets as well as the network marketing industry. Joe has held executive level positions for Fortune 500 companies, but he has never strayed far from the art and science of selling, which he loves. In early 2014, Joe began writing, speaking, and coaching through his platform, www.joebuzzello.com and The CAP Equation©.