A couple of weeks ago at a meeting of writers, a novelist whom I had just met told me that she was “impressed by all the things you’ve done in your life.” She had read my bio on my web site and was reacting to the fact that I’ve gone through five distinct phases of professional life.

“Do you find the latest phase, being a writer, the most difficult one?” she asked.

I responded in the negative, but I didn’t elaborate. It was only later that I had time to look back and contemplate nearly 50 years of my professional life and to determine not only which phase had been the most difficult, but also how each of the other phases could be described with a single “most.” Here’s what I concluded:

Phase I:    Engineer              —  most boring
Phase II:   Academic           —  most satisfying
Phase III:  Entrepreneur       —  most terrifying
Phase IV:  Venture capitalist — most difficult
Phase V:   Writer                 —  most frustrating

I should explain why the current phase is “most frustrating.” Most of my career has been about control. As long as I had some degree of control over matters — when my own actions and decisions could affect outcome — I was able to overcome obstacles and to maintain my sanity. As a writer, I feel that I have little control, beyond putting words on paper. Others make decisions while I wait for that e-mail or phone call, telling me that I’m going to get published. That’s frustrating — but I’m still enjoying myself.

I wish you Happy Holidays and all the best for the new year! Thank you for reading my blog.

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