I give total credit to my Uncle Milton for getting me into Cretin High School in 1957. I knew even back then that it would be a turning point in my life. I count that event as one of a half dozen significant crossroads in my life. At the time only three or four students were chosen from area schools to attend Cretin. Four had already been selected from my tiny Catholic grade school downtown. I wasn’t one of them. The alternative was a not very good public high school down the hill from where I lived.
As fate intervened some eight-grader somewhere dropped out of that selection process and my Uncle (tight with the administration) got me in. I have forever been grateful for that lucky intervention in his part. It was the first major step for me academically and creatively. I would not be the person I am today if that hadn’t happened.
Turns out there were a number of other significant turning points, milestones and incidents that shaped my life back then and now. Events that happened which had nothing to do with me except everything.
I recently came across some of Sharon’s old grade school papers, class records and other educational materials. From approximately second grade on, she was leading class projects, had numerous leadership roles throughout grade school and high school and was organizing fund-raising efforts (pagan babies, anyone) before it became the fifty’s equivalent to Cabbage Patch Babies…well, sort of. Her list of accomplishments goes on well beyond college and into her academic, business and political career. When I first met her she was working as a nighttime receptionist, going to school fulltime, heavily involved in extra-curricular educational activities on campus and held several leadership positions. Measuring her stellar academic career to mine is no comparison at all.
Comparing her outgoing charismatic personality is mine is also no comparison. She is an ENFJ; off the charts. I am an ISTJ; off the charts. So how is it that two very different people met, connected and have been happily married for over forty-five years? I thought it was because I proposed to her. Turns out, it was because she chose me. Reflecting back, it had everything to do with her choice in a future husband more than my proposal.
It was approximately 8:34 am on Friday, November 23rd, 1993 that my boss called me into his office and told me it was over. He was firing me for obstencively not reaching my yearly financial goal although we both knew that wasn’t the real reason. Politics had raised its ugly head and he was just maneuvering to avoid his own pending dispatch. That ploy didn’t work since he was canned six months later.
That event was significant not because it was the only time I’d ever been fired from a job. Turns out, it was the impetus I needed to focus solely on my business and real estate investments. Sharon said it best when I called her with the news. “OK,” She said, “now you can spend more time with the kids and focus on your business.”
And that was just what I did. Being freed from the toxic atmosphere of the the station allowed me to focus on my new career. I’d like to pretend that I made that decision on my own since it propelled my business to new heights and expanded my range of investments. But that wouldn’t be the truth. I got fired and that event pushed me in a new and much better direction.
It was the same kind of incident that nudged me into becoming a full-time writer. My production company had been producing a series of cable programs for the city. It had become more and more apparent that my contact person at the city didn’t want me to continue. He made every effort to discourage my participation and it eventually worked. I got so fed up with his arrogant, ignorant behavior that I finally called it quits. I was suddenly left with no more contracts, few new business leads and fatigue. It was time to do something else. That turned out to be a full-time career as a writer. Again, I’d love to pretend that I made that decision on my own. But I didn’t, it took a jerk in time to get me redirected.
My novels have covered a number of different genres; westerns, suspense mysteries, coming-of-age, drama-romance, and non-fiction. It was just another lucky turn of events that got me into the YA, young adult market.
My latest novel, ‘Follow the Cobbler’ had been under the editing knife of my editor for several months when she commented that her two (very bright and well-read) daughters had been looking over her shoulder and commenting on the storyline. They thought it might make a very good YA novel with the proper editing.
As the legend goes, they helped my editor with editing the original manuscript of ‘Cobbler’ with a focus on eliminating the too graphic, violent, and sexual parts. Then they created the new book cover and a new title.
Again, I’d like to pretend that I saw the potential in ‘Cobbler’ as a YA novel but nothing could be further from the truth. It took several pairs of younger eyes to see the options available for an entirely different kind of reading audience.
Throughout my life I’m sorry to say there has never been some grand plan or keen-eyed focus on setting goals or even some surgical strategy that wove through the distractions and obstacles of life. Many of those events/turning points happened to me through no fault of my own or, dare I say, no control on my part. They were all the result of lucky coincidence, the alignment of the stars, proper preparation and perhaps something deep inside that absorbed the hit and kept me going.
There are probably a lot more examples in my life where outside events and people made a significant impact, seen or initially unrecognized on my future. Now with the advantage of miles traveled, lifelong experiences and proper reflection I can see the genuine luck I’ve had in so many different ways.