impulse image


For The Daily Prompt: Impulse

This is a true story. I am not telling it to brag, but rather to make a point. Hopefully, this story will give other writers the courage they need to conquer their inner fears and get published. It is not only a story about acting on impulse; it is also a story about how transferring one’s passionate energy through an impulse can change one’s life forever.

It is not an example, but hopefully for others – a swift, kick in the butt.

The year was 1993. I was 36-years-old, a father of three, young children, a Union Carpenter and a locksmith in NYC. Me and my wife, who was a registered nurse, and our children were living comfortably. We already owned a home, a side business, two cars in the garage, a nice backyard pool and plenty of cash in the bank.

There was not much we were longing for – we basically had it all.

However, something was missing. There was this persistent feeling, deep down inside of me that was aching to come out. The feeling gnawed at me constantly, ever since I was a young kid, and was beginning to get stronger with each passing day.

It called to me like a hungry, wolf howling under a brightly-lit moon. It said to me, “Sit down and write. Grab a pen and a piece of paper and begin to write. Write about anything, but just keep on writing.”

So I did, then went out and bought a computer. Computers were much more difficult to use back then, but I quickly mastered the technique. It was not long before I became a command prompt, syntax-DOS-warrior, and a Wordperfect aficionado.

The problem, though, was what to write about. Even though I had been writing about all sorts of nonsense, since I was a kid, I did not know where to start. Of course, there were the beginnings, of all those novels and short stories, I had never finished, and of course the new ones I was planning to write in the future.

But that would take me too long. I wanted to write something fast, and have it published soon. I did not want to be an aspiring author anymore; I wanted to become a published and paid author.

All of a sudden a unique idea struck me – like a thunderbolt. Why not write about something I was good at and teach it to other people?

What a brilliant idea, huh?

Even though I was making good money working in the Carpenter’s Union, I wanted to do something else to earn extra money and have to fall back on in case I got laid off. So I had gone to night school and became a NYC Licensed Locksmith and started my own, small business in the basement of our home, and for the next five-years, in the daytime, I was a carpenter, and in the nighttime and on weekends, I was a locksmith.

That was it – I would write a book about Locksmithing, and why not? In the next few days I wrote out an amateurish book proposal and sent it to the biggest publishing firm in the country to get published.

Funny me…huh?

The funny part was, though, that I did just that. I did some research and quickly learned how to write a book outline, a query, a book proposal and how to send it off to a publishing house.

I got the editor’s name, address, and boldly wrote on the front of the envelope, “McGraw-Hill Publishing Company,” blah…blah…blah…blah…blah. I sent it off then sat back and laughed to myself.

How brazen I truly was, and how naive to think that I could write a book and get it published.

Six-weeks later, I received a letter in the mail. It was from the McGraw-Hill Publishing Company. I opened it and read it with my heart pounding. Probably a rejection letter, I said to myself.

It said:

“Dear Mr. Rathjen. After reviewing your book proposal, we are pleased to inform you that we would be happy to enter into a publishing contract with you for your locksmithing book. Please see enclosed a copy of our standard, first-time, McGraw-Hill, author’s contract.”

My heart stopped beating then raced wildly. Was I dreaming? Was I really going to get published?

Yes, I was, and then after that I would get 3-more books published and all within a few years time-frame.

Impulse – it can be a wonderful thing, and it can be the catalyst for dragging a writer out of the shadows and into reality.

By the way, that book is still selling after 19-years later of which I still get 2-royalty checks each year.

So do not ever let someone tell you that acting on impulse is a bad thing.

Sometimes, acting on impulse is just what you need to jump start a career and fulfill your dream.


my book cover two

Joseph E. Rathjen is a freelance writer, book author, blogger and an Opinion Writer at 1World Online – America’s Fastest Growing Social Research Engine.
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21 thoughts on “How I Got A Book Published “On Impulse”

  1. Congratulations Joseph and wow at the same time. I’m so pleased to know you went with your instinct and said to yourself how bad can it be, perhaps a rejection letter, it ”ll be a welcome change, but what if they like my book and that was the kind of impulse everyone needs.
    Thank you for your post.

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  5. Now all I have to do is find what I’m naturally good at that might me useful…loved your story…thanks for sharing.

  6. Brilliant and well done!

    Yup – as others have said – inspiring and well – as you’ve said – almost “laughable & brazen” – but hey, it worked.

    Hmmm … a kick in the pants … just what I needed but didn’t really want to hear today – but I’m *really* glad I stopped in and read.

    • Make sure you apply that “kick in the pants” when you feel that special moment. Sometimes we miss that little voice saying “GO” when we are preoccupied with other things. The trick is to know when the timing is right. When you see an opening – grab it – before someone else does. I truly believe that moment comes along for everyone.

      Like Andy Warhol used to say, “Everyone will get their fifteen-minutes of fame.”

      Watch for it. It could come along sooner than you think it will.

      • I so am hearing you – because I’m having all kinds of “aha” moments – some requiring quick action, others a little more thought – anything is possible. And I thank you for the encouraging words and ideas 🙂

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