Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Post – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by John W. Howell

I am sure like me, there have been times when you have wondered what difference might have been made to your life, if your younger self had been gifted with the experience and knowledge you have accumulated over the years.

I invited several friends from the writing community to share their thoughts on this subject which I am sure you will enjoy as much as I did.

The first author to rise to the challenge is John W. Howell.. and author whose books I have enjoyed very much.

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now… John W. Howell

When Sally first proposed the feature titled, I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now, there was a rush of things that immediately came to mind. Some connected to the writing life, and some to life in general. Sally being a gracious host, assured either would be acceptable. But, of course, listing things learned in life can always be risky. I remember a life lesson learned early. It came under the heading of ‘Talking back to parents.’ I don’t know the specific method of teaching the task at the time, but I would certainly have held my tongue knowing what I know now.

My approach to this feature is to discuss the learning that applies to both life and writing. I know Sally will be pleased since I solved my problem of which to choose without whining to her.

So, what was this lesson? Let me explain it this way. When I started writing and started working, I had the same feeling about the future and my success in both endeavors. My first job out of college was calling on retail outlets in my assigned territory. The purpose of these calls was to position the products represented in the best possible light and to convince the retailer to promote them.

When I started writing full-time, I had a story in my head that needed telling. I didn’t seriously start writing until I was 70 years old. The story was big enough to fill three books and became a trilogy. I wrote every day, and after about four months, the first draft of the first book was complete.

Now you may ask, what do these two situations have in common? The first job I held I was just starting in the business world. My first book represented that I was just beginning in the writing world. So, each situation was identical from being new at the endeavor.

However, the two situations had another aspect in common. I aspired for continued growth in each. I wanted to work hard and receive a promotion to the next level in my work life. In my writing life, I wanted to work hard and get published.

The work-life example and the writing life example required help from a third party to make the aspiration become a reality. The work-life needed a boss to say I was ready for promotion. The writing life needed a publisher or agent to pick up the manuscript and convert it into a book. I thought I knew what needed to be done in each case and set about chasing the aspiration.

The work-life seemed like a simple proposition. Get to work early, make as many calls as possible, and be productive. So, I set a goal to achieve a promotion within a year. Others had done it, so I naturally thought I could do the same.

The writing life also seemed like a simple proposition. Finish the book. Do some queries and get published. So, I began doing queries in earnest. While doing them, I worked on the second book as well.

The work-life efforts for promotion had requirement after requirement needing additional attention—more time required in building the business in the territory. There were some other conditions that no one could articulate. It became apparent that promotion was not coming soon. I left the company and received a promotion at the new place within eleven months.

The writing life efforts paid off. I signed a contract for a book deal with a small traditional publisher with a good reputation. I finished the other two books and was ready to launch them as soon as the publisher was willing. Unfortunately, after eighteen months, it became evident that the publisher would not launch the next book in the timeframe to my liking.

Long story short, the three-year contract expired, and I went out on my own and published five more books.

In each of these situations, what I know now in terms of patience would have gone a long way in preventing a lot of angst.

In my work life, I should have considered that the opportunities for promotion are contingent on available positions. There was no turnover for the three years that I worked for that company. Although I asked to do different tasks under the guise of preparation, there was nowhere to go. If I had the patience to assess the situation, I would have probably left sooner or have decided to wait for the opening. In any case, I would have saved myself from the constant frustration of an unfulfilled goal.

In my writing life, I should have considered what would happen if the publisher decided not to publish all of the books. Instead, I was so excited to have a publisher that I failed to ask essential questions about any breach of the contract. Yes, there were words about a breach but what was needed was a discussion about intent. If I had been patient enough, I would have asked and passed on signing the contract in all probability.

As you can see in each case, there is a patience factor that had I known then what I know now I would have exercised. So, my advice to all new writers is to be very careful about exercising the desire to be published. There is such a thing as rushing too fast and ending with significant disappointments. New writers need to take the time to determine exactly what requirements are necessary for their career and to determine which of those requirements can be waved.

My thanks to John for sharing his thoughts on this prompt and I know that he would love the chance to chat to you about it so please drop in to the comments and leave your feedback.

About John W. Howell

John began his writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive business career. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. His first book, My GRL, introduces the exciting adventures of the book’s central character, John J. Cannon. The second Cannon novel, His Revenge, continues the tension. The final book in the trilogy, Our Justice, launched in September 2016 concludes the thriller series. John’s fourth book Circumstances of Childhood, launched in October of 2017 tells a different thriller story of riches to rags, football, Wall Street, brotherly love, redemption, and inspiration with a touch of paranormal to keep you riveted.

The fifth book is a collaboration with the ​award-winning author, Gwen Plano titled The Contract. Heavenly bodies become concerned about the stability of the Earth and send two of their own to risk eternal salvation in order to save the planet. The Contract achieved number one status in its genre. John’s latest book is titled Eternal Road – The final stop and launched in September 2020. In search of their eternal home, Sam and James discover a threat to human existence. They also encounter the prince of darkness. The question is; can they save humankind and their eternal souls. All books are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

John lives in Lakeway, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

Connect to John read the reviews and buy his books: Amazon USand on: Amazon UK – Goodreads:John Howell Goodreads Blog: John W. Howell. com – Twitter@HowellWave

 Books by John W. Howell

I have enjoyed all of John’s books and here is my review for Eternal Road: The Final Stop 29th September 2020

I am a fan of John Howell’s books and as always was looking forward to his latest. The story of this road trip undertaken by the delightful characters James and Sam does not disappoint, as it crosses timelines and genres with ease and entertaining as well as thought provoking results.

It is an accepted truth that at some point we will die, but the question has always been about our destination after that defining moment. Religions have for millennium offered their own versions of heaven and hell, with various incentives for one and warnings about the other.

John Howell creates a middle world between death and your final destination that offers infinite possibilities, and tantalizes with the thought that perhaps some of our worldly emotional and physical pleasures might be still be enjoyed. And, perhaps an opportunity, particularly following an unexpected departure, to tidy up some loose ends.

The devil of course is in the detail, and in this case the charismatic Lucifer is recruiting likely prospects for one of his key employment openings, and will stop at nothing to get his way. Thankfully Sam who is guiding James through this confusing limbo he finds himself in, has a few tricks up her sleeve and a back up team.

During this interim period, the two travellers get to visit times in man’s recent history that could use some fine tuning, provided it does not compromise the time continuum. However, sometimes it might just be devilish meddling. There is adventure, mystery, humour, romance and some just desserts served up across the last 200 years, and it makes for a lively read with plenty of action.

As an alternative to what is currently on offer from the established authorities on the matter, I would happily take advantage of John Howell’s interim world. To have extra time to get used to the idea of passing on and to revisit events and people in my life to tidy up some loose ends. Temptingly, whilst you are not allowed to influence the events that have taken place already in history, the author hints that there might be a way to prevent a catastrophe in the far distant future.

I recommend that you suspend accepted belief for a few hours and try this world on for size.

Thank you very much for dropping in today and it would be great if you could spread the word about John’s guest post.. thanks Sally