I REMEMBER my mother reading at red lights and having an extensive library at home. My first “read of freewill” was her hardcover of William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist which I secretly borrowed at nine years old. Lots of reference to fact in that book, actually. I studied English at the University of Florida and was turned on to Steven R. Donaldson, reading his Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever series, often while walking across campus. I didn’t know books could be so engaging. At school, I wrote short stories and poetry, dove into philosophy and world religions, and found history and biography. Between parties, several friends and I were avid readers, far too little involving our classes.
As a small business owner, I discovered self-help, which did help. I wrote copy for my businesses, training materials for real estate agents, and a real estate column in a local newspaper. But writing poetry, performing music, writing books—these are things no one can really make a living at, right? Boy was I wrong. In fact, the best advice came from a drum teacher in high school, but its importance slipped by me at the time. Will Hanson said in conversation, “Whatever you do, be the best.” Only later in life would I realize how right he was. People make great livings doing all sorts of things, and if you find your passion, the world tends to get out of your way.
After the real estate bubble burst in Florida I lost my life’s savings, but gained an opportunity to redefine myself. I went back to college at forty (the best time to go to college), and my father kept bugging me to try freelance writing. I got paid crap, but each project was sacred and added to my portfolio. The jobs got better. I ghostwrote about 50 short books, from fiction to organic gardening, project management, and a short memoir of a hike to Everest Base Camp. It was great. I wrote in volume and learned self-publishing.
A very busy publisher of business books in Australia liked my work and asked me to start editing books by other writers. Then they asked me to hire and manage the other writers. We did another 150 books. It was incredible. I eventually went out on my own to work more closely with fewer clients, to write larger books, and to learn all I could about writing, publishing, and everything books. People’s stories and experiences, their expertise—-they create new and stimulating areas of education for me (and their readers), and I love my job! I’m also an author myself (www.rodneytaber.com and as Rodney Miles) and a publisher (www.biminibooks.com).
Today my favorite reads include the narrative nonfiction of Erik Larsen, David McCullough, and Joseph Ellis. I read fiction as the urge strikes, as well as history and whatever looks interesting. In a book, you can explore far-off places, contemplate the unexplained, walk in others’ shoes. They ignite the imagination more than other media and broaden horizons.
I love books, and I won’t take a project unless I love it, too. It’s all so much fun, always something new, always such a challenge, it really does seem like a dream sometimes. Maybe because each published title is someone’s dream, and I get to be some small part of it. I love my life and I want you to love yours, too. I’ve seen what books can do, whether it’s blasting the ceiling off of your influence, preserving a life of expertise or gathering the wisdom of one, books are magic. If you love what you do, let’s write about it in a book. If you don’t, let’s change that with a book.