Ask someone why writing might be a fine vocation and you will hear the usual trifecta: Fame, Fortune, and getting to do Cool Stuff. The wonderful thing about being a writer is that while those first two can be elusive, the Cool Stuff is quite easy to come by. Long before you are rich or famous, you can get to do some pretty cool stuff as a writer if you put your mind to it. Here are some of the cooler things I have gotten to do as a writer and I assure you: I am not rich or famous.
I got to drive Jay Leno's turbine car. One of only three running Chrysler turbines in the world, the car is priceless, literally and figuratively. The full story is here, so as not to repeat myself.
I got to drive Bobby Isaac's K&K Charger Daytona. This car won the NASCAR National Championship in 1970 and later set more than two dozen land speed records at Bonneville. I drove the car on the road outside of the Talladega raceway after I met the owner of the car and told him I had written Bobby's biography. Somehow, it seemed fitting: The car is on the cover of the book.
I got to fly in a B-17 bomber. The Yankee Lady is one of only a handful of survivors and resides in a museum in Michigan. The barn-door sized rear tail is even bigger when you see it up close. Flying over southeastern Michigan at only a couple thousand feel, I crawled up into the place where the bombardier sat and watched the farmland pass by below. It was eerily reminiscent of so many WWII movies I'd seen.
I've met four current or former governors of Michigan. At a recent book event in Lansing, I met former Governor James Blanchard who bought two copies of my Chrysler Turbine Car book. Blanchard had played a role in the story -- he was involved in the first bailout of Chrysler during the Iacocca days -- and he asked me to sign one copy for him and the other for Sergio Marchionne. I didn't meet Sergio, but the CEO of Chrysler is a friend of Blanchard's; the former governor now sits on the board of Chrysler.
I've been quoted by the New York Times, and have been featured as an expert on CNN, the BBC and by quite a few local TV stations and newspapers. One of the earliest things I wrote was about the lemon law -- my legal specialty -- and whenever someone looked for an expert to comment, they somehow found me. One day a producer from the BBC called and said a film crew was coming over to America to study our consumer protection law because they didn't have an equivalent law in England. I became the spokesman for American law in their piece. It wasn't broadcast here but the producer sent me a tape of it. I did get to the see the CNN piece and I have copies of the New York Times article.
So, if you set out to write because you are seeking Fame, Fortune and Cool Stuff -- hang in there. The Fame and Fortune might take a while but the Cool Stuff is just around the corner. And every writer I've ever met has stories just as cool . . .