It has been an honor to interview Peter Davidson, college professor and published author about his road to success. Life has an interesting way of providing us opportunities through which choices and perseverance can align with us, causing the desired outcome to manifest. Peter has been fortunate to enjoy the fruits of his labor, whereby, one action opened doors leading to additional opened doors, which continued towards unbridled success.
I found his journey to be one that shows how when we are aware of what life is bringing us, have the tenacity to take risks, and the desire to be fully present with our goals, things fall into place with ease. This is not to say it is always effortless or that there are not pitfalls or struggles. Rather, somehow the universe works with us within our capacity to think, act and receive in accordance to internal reflection creating a pathway for our own definition of success. Be inspired, have a little laugh and consider your own life’s journey as you read this interview with Peter.
Eileen: Success is subjective and we each have our own definition of what it means to us. I would say you have had a successful life, both personally and professionally. How do you define success, and what do you feel have been the keys in your life?
Peter: There could be many ways to define success, but for me, I’d say accomplishing a goal that I have set is how I measure success. Keys to success in my life have been having opportunities available to me and taking advantage of every opportunity and trying to make the most of them. Probably my best personal quality is perseverance; I don’t give up easily. It has also been a detriment a few times, since, looking back, I should have recognized something was a lost cause and should have moved on to other things sooner.
Keys to success in my life have been having opportunities available to me and taking advantage of every opportunity and trying to make the most of them. Probably my best personal quality is perseverance; I don’t give up easily.
Here’s an example: About twenty years ago I wrote a movie script and contacted movie script agents seeking someone to pitch the script to movie producers. An agent from Hollywood, Michael, enthusiastically offered to represent the script. My wife and I even flew to Hollywood to meet him, to sign the contract, and to have my official scriptwriter’s photo taken by a famous Hollywood photographer. I heard from Michael from time to time about contacts he was making, but after a couple of years, I heard from him less and less. After one stretch of not hearing from him for nearly nine months, I called his office only to find that he had gone out of business months before. Looking back, I should have seen the warning signs two or three years sooner and brought things to a head – before wasting several years. But, that’s not the end of the story.
After the fiasco with Michael, I set out to find another agent for my movie script. I should point out that this is not an easy task and most agents reject over 99.5% of all manuscripts submitted to them. I was lucky to land a wonderful agent, Jeff, from New York City who loved my movie script and worked hard on trying to land a producer. He had strong interest from George Clooney and also from Rosie O’Donnell before each of them decided to pass. Eventually, Jeff informed me that he had done all that he could and that he didn’t think he’d be able to do anything more with the script, so we parted ways. Jeff was an honest, hard-working agent who gave it all that he had, so I feel honored to have had him as my agent. But, that’s not the end of the story.
I again set out to find an agent for my movie script, concentrating on the movie capital of the world, Los Angeles. It took about six months, but I found a new agent from Beverly Hills, Kelly, who was excited about the potential of my movie script. In fact, he was involved in a movie production company and said if their current project worked out, they might even be interested in producing my script as a movie. Well, to make this short, Kelly turned out to be a carbon copy of my first movie script agent, Michael. I haven’t heard from him or been able to reach him, for over three years, so I have a sneaking suspicion this is not going to work out. But, hopefully, that’s not the end of the story.
I should explain that through the years I have always had multiple projects in the works, so when I had an agent representing a project of mine, I basically stayed out of their way and let them do their job as I concentrated on other things I was working on. As with the first and third agents for my movie script, this resulted in not keeping close enough tabs on their activities as time slipped away with no results from them. Fortunately, the theme of my movie script is still current and I’m going to need a good winter project. So, there may be more to this story before it’s finished.
Eileen: Many people aspire to be authors, to share their knowledge and passions. Your path led to writing 29 books from business/college textbooks to novels to children’s books. That is quite an impressive accomplishment! Please share a little about what you feel it takes to become a successful author and your own trials, tribulations, and triumphs in the journey.
Peter: To be a successful author, you need a worthy topic to write about and a good, unique approach to presenting your information. This is true in writing fiction, non-fiction, or anything else. To become a published author, it has become increasingly necessary, in publishers’ eyes, that the author has a “platform,” that is, a large built-in audience of followers who will be eager to buy the author’s work. This following might come from a having a radio or television program, being a celebrity, or having a vast social media presence. The other possibility is to write something so fabulously spellbinding that publishers cannot turn it down.
Sometimes in writing, and in life, what appears to be a disastrous situation actually turns out to be the beginning of something quite the opposite. Here’s a true story. When Earn Money At Home, my first trade book for the general bookstore market was published by a major publisher, McGraw-Hill Book Company, my friend who operated a small bookstore threw an author’s book signing at her store. It was to be my first book signing ever and I was really excited. It was in the middle of January in the Midwest and it was twenty-nine degrees below zero. Three people showed up: the bookstore owner, a good friend, Ron, who came to lend moral support, and a woman, who was a stranger to me. I had already given autographed copies of the book to the bookstore owner and to my friend, Ron, so neither of them bought one. The woman bought a copy and then after I had so proudly autographed it for her, she said, “I wanted to get an autographed copy of your book, because when you die it might be worth – something.” That will bring you back down to earth in a hurry.
Where it would appear that the evening was a total disaster, it turned out to have far-reaching effects on my writing and seminar presentation careers. With only one book buyer, it gave my friend, Ron, and me a chance to visit. We talked about the miserable weather, books, kids, you name it. Then Ron said, “I’ve been searching everywhere for a book on the Ten Commandments that I could read to my two small children, but I can’t find anything on the topic. Why don’t you and Steve write a book like that – there’s nothing out there on the market. Steve was our mutual friend, Rev. Steve, an ordained minister. A short time later, I mentioned the idea to Rev. Steve and he thought it was great. We wrote that children’s picture book called THE TEN COMMANDMENTS: An Explanation for Children.
Then we thought, why stop here when there are several other related topics we could also explain to children. So, we continued on and wrote seven additional children’s picture books. We found a traditional publisher, Northwestern Publishing House, who published all eight of the books. Several years later, I created Peter Davidson’s Writer’s Seminar, which was very well received in a fifteen-state area. Since I could only return to the same presentation sites once a year or so without wearing out my welcome, or my potential seminar attendees, I added a second seminar, How To Write A Children’s Picture Book, which was only possible for me to do because I had co-authored eight books in that genre. That seminar also went over extremely well – and it doubled the potential and longevity for my seminar presentation career.
I have been forever grateful to my bookstore owner friend for sponsoring that book signing, to my friend Ron, for suggesting the Ten Commandments book, and to that woman for giving me a great book-signing story that I’ve been telling for thirty-five years. I often think back to the events of that night and marvel at how seemingly inconsequential events can literally change a person’s life. It also reminds me of how ideas for writing projects are all around us if only we can recognize them and then put them into action.