I believe that, on average, the sharper your focus, the further you will get in life — whether in your career, your business, your hobbies, or anything else you’re after.
Unfortunately, picking a career is no easier than picking a mate — no matter how attractive your spouse, there will always be other people who are prettier, sexier, nicer, or just plain different.
You can’t get away from it.
Some people deal by becoming promiscuous. They work on a hundred different projects, each going off in a separate direction. By playing the field, they get to enjoy variety — but it’s much harder to enjoy any success.
And, even as people in perfectly happy marriages can be tempted, so people with perfectly wonderful careers can sometimes be seen sighing over the green grass on the other side of the fence.
In my case, this past week, I’ve been tempted by the thought of a career as an urban fantasy novelist.
Sure, I love being a business journalist. And I absolutely love running my own company. But I have a secret desire to write novels about witches and demons.
I know, from a practical sense, that I’ve never written anything longer than a hundred pages — and that was a struggle. I prefer, short, tight deadlines — the tighter, the better.
I also don’t like working alone. I prefer to be part of a large team of people. No, I prefer to be the head of a large team of people.
I also like making money. There are only a handful of novelists out there who make real money. Writing — like music and acting — is a career for people who don’t mind spending most of their time waiting tables, or living off their significant other.
Finally, I like making a difference. What difference could I possibly make writing frothy, escapist books about witches and demons?
I’m like the guy in the bar complaining that his wife doesn’t understand him — when he knows that the opposite is true, that, in fact, she understands him all too well. And that the woman he just met is a soulmate — despite not having any in common with her at all.
I’m the guy in the bar. And urban fantasy is that woman in the bar. She’s fresh and dewy — she’s Samantha in Bewitched. She’s fun and doesn’t take life seriously. She drinks sweet fruity cocktails. And she compliments me on how creative I am.
Meanwhile, my old career has been with me for 15 years. Made me reasonably happy most of the time. Is likely to continue making me reasonably happy for the rest of my life. And we’ve produced some good stuff together.
Of course I’m not going to throw that away.
But it’s nice to flirt and to fantasize once in a while.
In my fantasy, I live in a house in the middle of fields and woods. In fact, it’s my actual house in Massachusetts, where I hardly spend any time at all — it’s in the middle of nowhere and I start going crazy with boredom within a week.
In my fantasy, I write on an Apple laptop — maybe a pink one, like Reese Witherspoon had in “Legally Blonde.” In real life, of course, I would rather shoot myself than get a pink laptop. A Mac, maybe, but definitely not pink.
And I write light, fun fantasy about urban witches.
I’ve got one idea about a former executive secretary who slows learns that she can sense an object’s history just by touching it. At first, she uses her powers to help her boss, but then quits her corporate job to raise foster kids and fight evil.
And another idea about a woman whose parents immigrated to the US — from another dimension. And she’s got secret magical power and uses them to maintain peace in the city where she lives — even as others of her kind use their powers for evil.
But now that I’m thinking about the serious implications of doing this, there are ways to set it up like a business, with teams of contributors…
Okay, gotta go… I smell the potential of money to be made.