March 3rd, 2011 - Marc Sheinbaum
The alarm clock buzzer sounded at 6 am, but I had already been awake for the past two hours. Not bad, I thought. My internal alarm always decided what time sleep would end for me in those days. Waking at four am signaled a “moderate” amount of stress buzzing through my brain. “High” stress days would jolt me awake closer to three am. “Super” stress days even earlier. So, no, four am wasn’t so bad. Still, I tried to stay in bed, fooling myself into thinking I would fall back asleep, unable to control my mind racing through the myriad of challenges that awaiting me at the office:
-How would I make the numbers this month?
-Am I investing enough?
-Should I change our strategy?
-How do I “free up resources” to shift to higher priority areas?
-What actions can salvage that huge client that’s being wooed by a fierce competitor?
-Who can I find to help us complete that system conversion?
-How will I explain it to “corporate” if we miss our dates again?
-Where am I going to find someone to replace my star sales leader?
On March 2011, I was solving these and other puzzles every single day. After all, I was the CEO of a large Automobile Finance business, a division of the largest bank in the U.S., where I was responsible for over seven thousand employees. We had come through the financial crisis of 2008, stronger, more profitable and healthier than at any time.
On that day, did I envision that in ten-years I would be in the middle of writing my second novel? That I would be shifting all my time, energy and passion into the craft of storytelling? And, that I would experience such an incredible thrill when a reader enjoyed my work--greater than any annual performance appraisal during my thirty plus year career?
Had I been able to peer into my future back in 2011, I can only imagine the smile it would have put on my face.
Yes, my career and all those experiences back in 2011 are a part of my own story. While none of my work is autobiographical, writing pulls from the reality of our past. From the people and situations, the fears and the aspirations, the dreams and the disappointments; the roller coaster from self-doubt to overconfidence.
In my current career as a writer—my 2021 version--I still find my internal alarm jolts me awake at four o’clock in the morning. But now, as I toss in bed, I find myself solving a very different kind of puzzle. Now I’m hanging out with the characters in my new novel. I’m play acting through a scene with my protagonist, Ana, who dupes Donny in my first novel and comes back to set up more victims in my current project. I’m noodling through various versions of her back story—stitching her a consistent, compelling set of motivations. I’m planning how do I get her from Chicago to where I need her in Silicon Valley? So many dilemmas to solve. So many puzzle pieces to sort through in my head.
By the time I pop out of bed in the morning, a new chapter is ready to be written.
I think my March 2011 version would be thrilled to be working alongside me.
Marc Sheinbaum grew up in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. After graduating from State University of New York at Albany and New York University, he worked in business for over thirty-five years, mostly within large corporations. He currently resides in Westchester County, New York, with his wife, Hildy, where he spends his time writing fiction. His debut novel Memories Live Here was released on February 5th.
Marc would like you to learn more about Yonkers Partners in Education (YPIE). YPIE partners with students to ensure they are ready for, enroll in, and complete college. YPIE confronts the challenges of a low-income, urban school district by providing families with equitable access to the critical tools and services necessary for college success. Visit www.ypie.org.