The writing prompt “Toot Your Horn” came as I hung up the phone with my literary agent. I had been working on a book proposal for way too long and had only yesterday finally took the plunge. My agent responded immediately – “This is fantastic!” We discussed it this morning and she offered some great tips to give us the best chance of finding a good publisher. With one book out in 2013, one book scheduled for release this July, and a couple of mini e-books on Amazon, I feel confident in calling myself a successful author.
To be honest, that comes as a shock to me. And yet, things always seem to work out notwithstanding my inconsistencies and failures. My personal life was erratic at best, yet seems to have worked out just fine. My scholastic career was anything but smooth, and yet I obtained advanced degrees. My professional science career was fraught with constant worries of impending lay offs, and despite that happening a couple of times (plus some near escapes) I always seemed to land a new job with greater opportunities and pay.
Somehow I keep falling upward.
As a young boy I had a wooden plaque listing Abraham Lincoln’s failures. Over time he lost several jobs, failed in businesses, lost sweethearts, lost a race for Illinois House Speaker, lost out on a land office job, and twice lost his run for U.S. Senate seats. And yet he always kept his eye on the future. He served four terms in the Illinois House, one term as a U.S. Congressman, was a successful lawyer, and eventually, fell upward all the way to the presidency.
So as the prompt suggests, today I celebrate my ability to move forward even after facing failures. After years of making money for other people I took a chance on a new career as a writer, a career that hasn’t paid well at all but gives me immeasurable satisfaction. I’ve fallen upward into doing what I love – writing, traveling, and communicating science to the public.
Upward is not a bad place to fall.
David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His next book on Abraham Lincoln is due out in 2017.