Writing Boots will always be about writing. (Unless it takes a surprising turn and focuses strictly on boots.) But since I'm now a business owner, and my days are as much filled with business stuff as with writing, I bet I'll reflect here occasionally about that trip.
My daughter said gently the other day that she's tired of hearing me tell "everyone we talk to" that I bought this magazine called Vital Speeches of the Day. That night, it was a bunch of chummy soccer parents who I hadn't seen since fall. I told her I'm telling them not to brag about it, though that's surely part of the reason. But mainly, I'm telling them in order to notify them that something real in my life has changed—something significant enough to change me. If we'd had a baby over the winter, I'd tell them that. If we'd moved to the suburbs, I'd tell them that. If I'd had one continuous panic attack since about November—well, that kind of is what I'm telling them.
And as I writer, I feel almost like I'm announcing a sex change. A writer, no matter what his or her politics, is by nature a watcher, an analyst, a dramatist. A business owner must watch, too—but the next move isn't articulation. It's action. That's how businesspeople express themselves: Not through words, though action. (We know this, yet we wonder why their speechwriters have such a hard time getting them to sit down and discuss what they want to say in the speech.)
"Everything's going to change," my entrepreneur pal Tom Gillespie warned me and promised me as he congratulated me for having done what he encouraged me to do—he and a number of other entrepreneurs in my life, who clearly wanted Mister Smarty the Grasshopper to know what it's really like to be in the middle of the cash flow without a paddle.
Well everything can't change, I told Tom. Even though I'm now the publisher of Vital Speeches, people will still show up looking for what they got from me when I was just its editor—back before I spent so much of so many of my days at the UPS Store, at the bank, on the phone listening and cajoling, on email pitching and interpreting, lying awake in my bed trying to figure out what Authorize.net does.
So I must make time for writing, and to make time for writing I must make time for thinking like a writer.
I must learn to integrate my well developed writing mind with my business mind, such as it is. One way I do this is to cultivate a habit of stepping out of myself and see the business stuff as a drama to be remembered and recounted. I tell my colleagues about this documentary I'm always filming and producing in my head, about the early days of this business.
The documentary sees me in Chicago's Central Post Office haplessly refereeing an argument on my cell phone's speaker phone between the cornfed, sweet-mouthed printer's representative Cathy in Northern Wisconsin and the hilariously truculent Sharon, who has been working in the USPS Periodicals Department for 34 goddamn years and has never been wrong the postage rules yet! (She was wrong this time, as I found out on a subsequent visit, from her colleague Wanda. But I never told the printer, because I liked Sharon's attitude.)
The documentary records me calling people "motherfuckers" a lot, catches me thanking people profusely in advance for favors they have not yet promised to do for me, sees me squinting at spreadsheets and zooms in like a National Geographic telephoto showing my eyes glazing over like a polar sea.
And you hear the disbelieving pause on the phone as our COO absorbs my offhand mention that, in response to a request for proof of residency by an important prospective vendor, I faxed over an unpaid speeding ticket.
I could go on. I will go on, I hope. Because to the extent that I can describe my life as a publisher as thoroughly and joyfully as I've described my life as a writer, I'll still be a writer.