There's a certain amount of irony in the fact that I currently make my living as a writer. When I think back to my high school days (more decades ago than I'd like to admit), I remember having a natural aptitude for math and science, but lacking in the creative writing department. I generally viewed writing with the same enthusiasm as going to the dentist's office for a root canal. I can think of at least a couple of my old English teachers who are scratching their heads right now.
My writing skills didn't improve all that much in college or graduate school, despite the fact that I had to use them more often. But I did start to get the hang of it during the first job I had after earning my master's degree in exercise physiology. Writing became part of my responsibilities, and I actually began to enjoy the process. I even daydreamed about becoming a full-time writer, imagining myself scribbling as I sat by the ocean. Just another day at the office.
As every writer knows, it gets easier with practice, and that was part of my newfound appreciation for putting words on paper. But I had also come to realize just how powerful writing can be. It's an easy way to communicate with a large number of people, and it allowed me to merge my love of science (and its offshoots, fitness, health, and nutrition) with my desire to educate, inspire, and motivate people to make significant changes in their lives. Not long after I met Oprah in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and we began working together, she suggested that the two of us write a book. By this time I was ready for it. Writing had become, if not exactly easy (it's never easy), but something I actually enjoyed doing.
It wasn't, though, a straight line from having visions of being a writer to actually becoming a writer. I will never forget submitting the first rough draft of Make the Connection to our publisher. They were as kind as they could be, but I quickly read between the lines: my writing was stiff and mechanical, much like the instruction manuals and scientific data summaries that I typically composed. Oprah's introduction, by contrast, was real, gritty, and beautifully written. Up against a looming deadline, I did some intense soul searching. I was up all night rewriting my portion of the manuscript. This time, I wrote it as though there was one person in the room with me, and I was simply speaking to him. That was my "aha moment," a moment that would change my life significantly. I had become a writer.
I never have written a book while lounging on the beach as I once imagined I would, but if you happen to pick up a copy of my upcoming book, The Life You Want, you'll notice the ocean in the background of the cover shot. I can still dream, can't I?
Bob Greene is an exercise physiologist and certified personal trainer specializing in fitness, metabolism, and weight loss. Greene is the bestselling author of The Best Life Diet Cookbook and The Best Life Diet, among others. The Life You Want will be published by Simon & Schuster in December.