When Dom was in first grade, he told his teacher he wanted to play center field for the New York Yankees.

In a deadpan voice that  didn’t entertain dreamers or laughter, she asked, “What’s your back-up plan?”

Dom paused a beat and asked, “What do you think about right field?”

I love that story.

When Dom shared it with me, we were eating pizza with our families, following a Little League game. Dom laughed and laughed. He could still remember the teacher eyeballing him.

The way Dom told the story . . . First you have to imagine his words drenched in a New York accent, with breaks from laughter interrupting the flow. Second, you have to imagine the teacher, one of those old school, hard core teachers, with those now-retro black framed glasses with thick Coca-Cola bottle lenses, a long skirt, and thick-soled orthopaedic shoes.

That night at pizza, he laughed at himself and how naive he was as a kid. I admired him for his laughter. He loves baseball and I know that no matter how much he laughs at that 1st grader, he would have done anything to play Major League Baseball. I admired him for being honest, too. Sure, it was a story of a first grader, but it was a 50 year old story that he’s continued to tell. It means something to him.

I recently read something by Tim Grahl, which reminded me of Dom’s honesty and reflection.

Have you read Steve’s last two “Writing Wednesdays” posts (The Artist’s Journey, #18 and The Artist’s Journey, #19)? If yes, you’ll have seen his mentions of Tim.

I was first introduced to Tim’s name when he and Shawn started working together on Shawn’s Story Grid site. It was interesting to read what was and wasn’t working as they worked together on Tim’s novel.

Just a few months ago, I found myself reading something different from Tim — his personal story of what has and hasn’t worked within his own life. He wasn’t laughing at himself as Dom had, but his message was just as effective. He was raw and honest — two things I admire just as I do the ability to laugh. As I finished reading the last page, I thought, “He’s not the only one.” I knew his story would resonate with other writers and entrepreneurs because it is a classic tale. I admired him for putting himself out there—for not painting an all-is-beautiful Facebook image.

In the coming weeks, as Steve finishes his serialization of The Artist’s Journey, we’ll start sharing some of Tim’s new project. I hope you’ll join us.

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A short book about the writing of a first novel: for Steve, The Legend of Bagger Vance. Having failed with three earlier attempts at novels, here's how Steve finally succeeded.



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Amateurs have amateur habits. Pros have pro habits. When we turn pro, we give up the comfortable life but we find our power. Steve answers the question, "How do we overcome Resistance?"



  1. Joe Jansen on June 22, 2018 at 6:20 am

    I like Dom’s story. Better than: “I aspire to be a bush pilot and fly hunters into Alaska’s Brooks Range.”

    “What’s your back-up plan?”


    I’ve been following Tim and Shawn, but may have missed the essay about his journey. Is there a link?

  2. BarbaraNH on June 22, 2018 at 6:34 am

    Oh, this is wonderful, Callie. And, like all the posts coming out from you guys, it’s a lifeline in the work, an inspiration for the day. Thanks so much.

  3. Mary Doyle on June 22, 2018 at 6:50 am

    Looking forward to what’s coming! Love Dom’s story – thanks for a great post to end the week Callie.

  4. Gwen Abitz on June 22, 2018 at 8:12 am

    Thank you, Callie. I laughed when I read “What’s your back up plan” as it reminded me. For me, no choice was given other than “The Journey Into The Self”. The dialogue had become do you want to live or die; sink or swim? It felt like “an autopsy” when the truth be told. It was a feeling of “unzipping” my entire body and everything was exposed. It was like “OK” What now ? IOW’s “what’s your back up plan? (My speaking to “the force” that “gave me no choice.) “Zip yourself up and start all over again”, I was told.” It became Trial and Error and one day “it worked.”

    • Anonymous on June 22, 2018 at 8:43 am

      I needed to Reply to my own Comment [talking to myself] because I was reminded by “the source/force” that “the answer” was not received with such grace and dignity becoming trial and error. In fact [each time for over 25 years] “the same outburst” of “are you kidding me; are you freakin out of your mind? Plus some other choice words. The same dialogue kept repeating itself “each time”. Do you want o live or die; sink or swim?

  5. Eric Tolladay on June 22, 2018 at 8:39 am

    Great story. It reminds me of the night I was with a good buddy of mine and we ran across a young lady who was dewy-eyed and sure she wanted to be a jazz harpist. We were all, “Great!” and supportive, and then started telling her tales of all the mistakes we’d made along the way to finding our own passions. Like your friend Dom, we were laughing at all our mistakes, while the poor lady’s face grew more and more into a look of horror. The idea of cataloging, and even edifying one’s mistakes had never occurred to her.

    I often wonder where she ended up.

  6. John C Thomson on June 22, 2018 at 6:17 pm

    I too, enjoyed your post today, but I could not get the movie, “A Bronx Tale” out of my mind. You do know the movie, don’t you? A young kid growing up in the Bronx who is influenced by the mob? I wondered why you chose such a well known title for your article?

  7. Sean Crawford on July 4, 2018 at 9:29 pm

    Speaking of funny and dreams, I am still thinking about comedian Mary Walsh being interviewed on CBC radio. Of the people she started out with, all with dreams of making it in comedy show business, the ones who had a fall back plan all fell back and left the business.

    To put it in Pressfield’s military terms, before an assault across no man’s land, the last thing you do is ? Synchronize your watches. What you do not do is make any fall back plan for if you pinned down in the open: Because the attack must succeed.

  8. things to do on December 19, 2023 at 5:08 am

    I hope to see more news from you. Thank you so much for sharing the nice information!

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