I understand you were once a sports executive? It’s quite a leap from that industry to writing. I’d love to hear more about your backstory and what compelled you to make that leap. I started writing out of necessity. Years in the sports industry, coupled with success up the corporate ladder, watching my team win the NBA Championship, led to students from around the nation in-boxing me and sending me Facebook messages about the sports industry and how they might land a job in it. One day, I thought to myself why not put everything I know in a book; why not write a book!
Does your background in the sports industry have any impact on your career as a writer? I’m sure you’ve had much to take away from those years. My sports background helps me as a writer because it gives me perspective; a different, previous life to pull stories and experiences. Unlike most writers who are saturated and inundated in the writing world before writing their first book. I have different kinds of stories to tell. My time spent as a sales director in New York confirmed the foundation that I can create the success I want. It never occurred to me when I finished my first book to get an agent and lay prostrate before publishers hoping they found me worthy to write; you hear a lot of these types of stories from MFA graduates. They hope someone will take a chance on them after graduation. The sales world taught me to create my own luck. I wrote, had edited, had the cover designed, marketed, and self-published my first book. I even partnered up with Half Price Book Stores for a book tour that I think went pretty well.
Today, as I work on my third book, I am thinking about doing things a little differently. I believe in great writing, the power to spread messages around the world and transform people's lives. I am thinking of going with a traditional publisher for this book.
“They hope someone will take a chance on them after graduation. The sales world taught me to create my own luck.”
Being so clearly entrepreneurial-spirited, do you at all miss the fast-paced lifestyle of corporate work, or do you find liberty in the slowness of your life as a writer? I miss the business world in all its busy-ness. Writing taught me how to slow down and look at people as people and not merely transactions and opportunities. I think I am more balanced now.
What does it mean to you to be a writer? To me, writing means to live free of yourself, free of your fears and secrets. You write to free yourself, and in doing so, you have the possibility to free someone else. What I've learned from studying the craft is that our stories may vary, but we all go through the same kinds of struggles. It is the writer's job to have the reader say to themselves, "Me too. I'm not alone." It is the writer's job to articulate truth.
“You write to free yourself, and in doing so, you have the possibility to free someone else.”
Let's talk about some of those truths. What are you thinking a lot about lately? And of course, there are certain beliefs not everyone will find as true. As a writer, how are you finding it best to engage sensitive issues and properly handling opposing ideas? I think a lot about self-definition, power, money, and freedom of the soul in American life. I'm reading a lot on these topics, and books like Money and the Meaning of Life by Jacob Needleman, Nietzsche, Human All Too Human, and Marianne Williamson's, A Return To Love offers perspective and context to these ideas. I was raised to believe truth stands on its own two feet. It is a lack of acknowledging a reality that we've found ourselves where we are today as a nation. The best way to handle opposing ideas is to listen. I'm still learning to do this consistently.
“I was raised to believe truth stands on its own two feet.”
Your writing very much involves a prominent theme around bravery. I talk so much about bravery because without it we live lives for other people, in fear of ourselves, and we limit our potential. I lacked so much of bravery in my early 20s, it forced me to go on a journey. Every time I hit publish on a piece, I'm riddled with anxiety, it's what's left over from when I cared most about what others thought of me. I'm a work in progress. But when I feel that emotion I know that I am headed in the right direction.
Yeah I was actually going to say — beyond recovery from fear, there’s also recovery from people-pleasing that you write and speak about. This is where I struggle most. Of course, issues we have around people-pleasing are mostly made up in our heads, fearing that certain people won’t like what we’ll have to say, when in reality, people generally respond well to our work. Regardless though, at one point or another, your writing is inevitably going to piss somebody off. Have you had to deal with that yet? A few years ago, I was a led a recovery group at a local church. On Monday nights, I met with a large group of women, and discussed our struggles; people-pleasing was a popular one. It's something I've dealt with all my life and because it's a common strife that means someone somewhere has overcome it. As it relates to the negative voice in our head, Dani Sharpio, who I consider one of the writing greats says this about the voice in our head, I'm paraphrasing: “We should learn to be gentle with the voice that tells us we are not good enough. We should thank him or her for their input and get back to work.” As far as criticism is concerned, I hope to piss someone off and get people's blood pumping. It comes with the job. I welcome all criticism of my work if it starts a conversation. I don't struggle as much with people-pleasing today.
Beyond writing, you’re also a member of many cultural institutions. Why is it important for you to be such an active participant in your community? It's important to be active in the community because without it, I would have no stores to tell; pieces like An Observation: Older Man Younger Woman and Technology and Children came directly from engaging my community, forcing myself to leave my house and look around. We are all better people when we care about people and things outside of ourselves. Plus, with the heightened racial tension in America, cultural institutions remind us of our shared humanity and that we are not strangers to each other.
What can you tell me about your third book? It’s so fascinating — it seems like you were bitten by the writing bug for a very niche and specific topic (sports), but discovered a newfound passion for spreading so many more ideas. I was never just going to write about sports but writing about my time in the sports industry introduced me to writing, and I am grateful for that. My third book is about what it takes to become yourself and to show up as yourself in life and not the person you imagine yourself to be. Not wanting to give the book away, I think readers will appreciate the time and research I am putting into this book.