The book I’m writing

I’m publically declaring here that I’m writing a book.  People close to me have urged me to say this in public to create a structure of accountability and support to make sure it actually gets done.

The Book

“The Wolf in the Workplace”: a novel of four parallel lives.


The intention of the book is to leave people clear that they can learn to do what it takes, with ease and grace, to lead a life they love, regardless of circumstances.


It is the story of four people. They all live in what we now know of as the South of England, in Hampshire.

The first lives roughly 12,000 years ago, as a hunter gatherer at the time of the end of the last ice age. His name, unrecorded anywhere, but if we were to know it in modern English, would be Swimming Bear. He lives as humans have lived for 10,000 generations, fully adapted to their environment.

The next lives about 4,000 years ago, as agriculture is causing humans to settle down, and in settling down they are discovering that they have been domesticated by their crops and livestock, and that the new “civil” society brings problems as well as benefits. His name, Mael, is in records of trade with merchants from Southern lands.

The next, Harry Arkwright, is an industrial worker living about 200 years ago. I’ve yet to decide if he works at the Portsmouth Block Mills, the world’s first production line, or if he’s a piece worker making chair parts for one of the great cabinet makers, or if, poor man, he’s stuck working in a textile or iron mill. His life sucks, and is physically very hard.

Lastly we have Sheldon Park, a software engineering manager, living right now. His life looks pretty good from the outside, but on the inside he’s in agony and misery. Under pressure at work and in a lousy relationship with kids that don’t respect him, he lives from moment to moment hoping something will make it better. One day.

The four stories will all pass through the same spaces of human development. In each space, their experience will differ increasingly dramatically. Swimming Bear’s life never occurs to him as “hard” as he’s fully equipped for it. Sheldon’s life is awful as he has no “built-in” equipment that actually works for this life. It was all created for Swimming Bear’s life! And yet, Sheldon gets an extra that the others don’t – he is introduced to The Work (an imagined synthesis of Landmark, NLP, Theory U, Conversations for Action, neuroscience, paleo-anthropology, sociology, all the ologies, etc etc) that transforms his experience of life. The point being that his misery was inevitable and out of his control until his view of it totally alters, and he gets that with an act of will, continuous practice, and recreating his intentions every moment, he can have the most astounding life.


1. Build out the form of the book. Four lives, parallel spaces (the Hero’s Journey provides the essential spaces), different experiences in each space. Several physical “McGuffins” connect them all: canines (the “Wolf” in the title), a flint arrow head, their diets and physical exercise, their family and “tribal” relationships, and so on.

2. Write the stories – the content within the form. See what emerges.

3. Test: Show people, see what it means to them, what it evokes, and do so iteratively and incrementally (huh…!) Take results into account to add to or modify the intention, form, or content of the book.

4. Find professional support for publishing. A publisher and an experienced novel editor to guide this into actual production.

5. Public response. How many copies sold? What reviews? What do people say on Goodreads?

The first three will happen together, iteratively and incrementally. The fourth will get started first thing in the New Year, and of course, may change the target completion date.


-By Dec 31st 2016: Have the framework largely established, the core characters well fleshed out, their supporting characters determined and fleshed out (e.g. “the clothes-maker” – a wise person who whispers in all their ears. FYI, making clothes is actually the world’s oldest profession!). The narratives all at first rough sketchy draft. Updates publicly posted on my blog.

I’ll also get a clearer sense of the rhythm of working on this.

-Between Jan 1st 2017 and April 30th 2017: Find and engage a publisher and editor. Adjust the book within their advice. Redraft the narrative until there’s an emotional reaction from test readers – without that the book can’t live.

Support requested:

You all can help me by looking out for where I’m wriggling out of getting this done. There will be tons of fascinating research, so please check in with me whether it’s actually contributing to the book or if it’s become a rabbit hole. (I’ve already got into researching the habits of wolves, how to make flint weapons and tools, how ancient people were named, the history of the industrial revolution etc etc. Awesome!!!!)

I’ll also “get busy” and offer ingenious and highly enrolling reasons for not working on the book. I may get resentful and defensive when you check in with me, and try to hide it. I’ll forget to check in. I’ll drill into detail (“aka get fascinated”) so check that I’m heading out the other side of the detail to the Big Point that will be actually useful.

I’ll start not getting enough sleep: I’ll stay up late writing then f*ck-up work because I’m fuzzy headed and use it as a reason to bail on the book. (aka Sustainable Pace).

I’ll, of course, totally miss what I don’t know that I don’t know, so feel free to point out the glaringly obvious stuff to which I appear to be wholly oblivious!


If you’d asked me beforehand how I’d feel if someone declared that a whole team was going to be standing over my shoulder as I worked on this, I’d have lied to you, then run for the hills!

But when a coaching team member actually declared that the team’s job was to make sure this got done, my actual experience was overwhelming relief! And then an urge to run!

As a good friend keeps reminding me “It’s worth doing if your reaction is ‘Yes! Yes… Hell NO!’”

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Phillip Crockford

    So how’s the book project going Andrew? Do you assess that you’re on track? What’s your grounding? What additional support do you want right now?

  2. Brian Ripley

    How’s it going? Do you need any “beta testers” to read a manuscript? Happy to help if so.

    1. Andrew

      A kind offer, and one I may take up in due course. I’m finding that shifting from writing the odd blog post and preparing course materials to writing a novel is a little like shifting from composing a doorbell chime to composing the Ring Cycle!
      You’ve inspired me to put together an update post. Watch this space!

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