When you're a mailman, you shouldn't ask people if you could use their bathroom. In hindsight, I probably didn't need to learn that lesson via personal experience. And yet, there I stood on the front steps with today's mail and an awkward request. As a creative writer, I made for a pretty horrible mailman. I was disorganized, fumbling and prone to get pepper spray in my own eyes. One day I switched my morning route with my afternoon route, which meant people who usually got the mail late got it early. A happy homeowner told me I was way better than that other guy, unknowingly referring to me. I agreed, telling her, "He's the worst. Just a real jerk." My career arc would continue through places like “Apple Country,” a convenience store that did not sell apples, and “Maurice the Pants Man,” no Maurice but plenty of pants. I'd spend sixteen years traveling through corporate America, writing advertising for Home Depot, branding for Bose and marketing for Staples. I was laid off from one start up, fired from another, ran my own into the ground and then found and left my dream job. Along the way, I learned one lesson about work.

Recently, my youngest daughter told me that I’m not good at finishing things. I told her, “I finished writing 5 books.” (Including the new one Do Over!) She said, “Yeah, but it took 5 years.” Tough crowd at the Acuff house, but there’s a chance my youngest daughter has a high expectation of what it means to finish because of what her older sister just did with a rainbow loom.

I once worked at a company that started serving dinner in the corporate cafeteria. They announced it under the guise of convenience. “Now you can have dinner options you can bring home to your family!” Despite the upbeat email, everyone at the company knew this was a terrible sign. Let’s be honest, what family wants you to bring home a styrofoam container of office cafeteria spaghetti and sadness? Have you ever eaten lunch in a corporate cafeteria (that wasn’t Facebook or Google) and thought, “I wish I could have this for dinner, too! You know who would love eating this? My family!”

Every writer secretly believes in the writer's cabin. In our heads we see a small isolated cabin in a quiet patch of woods. There's a porch with a swing out front. We sit on that when we need a break from all the amazing words we've written inside. There's not much behind that cabin door, just a humble table like Hemingway probably used, a chair our grandfather made by hand and some sort of way to gather our words. For some, it's a stack of fresh, white paper and a favorite pen. Others see a typewriter that makes real clickity clack sounds with each brilliant word you capture. The days pile up as the pages do too and we emerge from this literary sabbatical with a book and a beard. (Unless you're a lady, the beard is not nearly as cool in your story.)

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