I finally hit the end of one more book to add to my list.
The first book I wrote many decades ago was the HR Professional’s Guide to Defined Contribution Plans. Believe it or not, I thought this was a really fun topic and I enjoyed writing it.
While I wrote, I listened to the song Kiss Me In The Car which repeats the title line over and over again. It seemed the book needed a really silly song to help me write on a somewhat complex topic.
People often ask me to find a copy of that first book, but it was from a time when nothing was electronically stored — so it’s very likely buried in one of the boxes in the basement.
Early Mornings and Years
Fast forward twenty years and the next book I wrote was Lean Human Resources: Redesigning HR Practices for a Culture of Continuous Improvement.
This book was written while I was working in a senior HR role, and much of it was written in the early morning hours starting at 4:30 am. It took 7 years.
Even after the first draft was done, the developmental editor gave me over 600 comments to consider for rewrites. That took another year. By the time the whole thing was said and done, my husband only asked that I please stop writing books.
Lessons in Self-Discovery
About 5 years later, the publisher asked me to consider writing a second edition to include everything I’d learned since writing the first book. I was never happy with the tone of the first edition and was self-conscious that it wasn’t well-written.
In writing the second edition, I was plagued with self-doubt about the last book and was determined to make the second edition perfect. Most second editions are simply more pages added to the first, but in my case I completely rewrote every single chapter of the book.
Ten years after the first edition, the second came out. Along the path, I had to come to terms with the fact that my self-doubt was in the way, and I had to commit to making decisions to get it finished.
The good news is: the second edition is better written, and it taught me a number of lessons on how to get out of my own way.
And now, meet CORE.
During the time the second edition was published, I wrote a textbook on developing coaching skills called The CORE Leadership Program. That book took a few years to write and ended up having a second volume with corresponding facilitator guides that all in all reflect over 1,000 pages of content.
Writing in Unconventional Places
Not surprisingly, I spent many of these years writing on the weekends and over holiday breaks. When I get really stuck, it helps to write on plane rides to finish the hard parts. It’s my best place to write.
My second best place is in bars on Saturday afternoons in a back room no one’s in, listening to people having fun in the background. I only drink coffee, and no one bothers that strange woman in the back room writing a book.
A few years ago, I decided my recent textbooks really needed something easier to read to go with them. I worked with a professional ghostwriter who interviewed me every week and typed the notes into structured paragraphs. I then got very involved in developing the outline, reviewing the material, and suggesting edits and changes along the way. This all took another year to process.
The Finish Line! (Or is it?)
In June, we finally got a finished manuscript that I’m now passing around to a few folks for their thoughts. The book will be published in October and represents my fourth book listed at the Library of Congress.
Believe it or not, I’m already ready to work on the next book that presents case studies of best practices related to people strategies and operational excellence.
You’d think that by now, I’d have found another hobby. Instead, I just need to write if that’s my heart’s desire and not make it so hard.
Leaving a Legacy Through Words
One of the hardest things in my life was that I wasn’t able to have children. My husband and I spent 10 years doing everything we could do to have children. Somehow, books helped make it bearable. They became my children, and at least there’s some legacy I get to leave behind.
For any of you who want to write a book: I always say if you have several hundred hours and nothing to do with it, it’s a great idea. Come up with a good approach that works for you and get as much help as you need to bring it home. Writing books has been one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done, and I plan to do it as long as I’m able.