The Day I Turned Pro and Never Looked Back

Craig Stanland
3 min readMar 2

It was early afternoon, and the subway platform was quiet.

I was waiting for the R, my mind awash in the conversation that had occurred only 10 minutes ago.

A conversation that the week leading up to it was filled with fear and anxiety.

I had a lot to digest.

I’m grateful my editor suggested we record the conversation so I could review the 90 minutes we spent dissecting my manuscript.

The R pulls into the station, and I take a seat near the door.

I’m thinking about the massive idea she suggested,

“There’s one chapter, the one with you working out in Prospect Park, where you write in the first person. It’s the only chapter in the entire book that’s written in that tense. You shine at writing in the 1st person. I suggest you revise the manuscript from self-help to 1st person memoir.”

I was two and a half years into writing the book at this point. Two and half years of attempting to capture the lessons of being arrested by the FBI, going to prison, losing everything, and planning on how I was going to kill myself.

And she’s telling me to toss it and start from scratch.

I was scared of the call because I thought I couldn’t handle this kind of critique.

I was wrong.

I was hungry for her feedback. I devoured it like I was coming off of a 36-hour fast.

In his book “Turning Pro,” Steven Pressfield describes the artist’s journey from being an amateur to turning Pro.

Turning Pro doesn’t require a cert, and there’s no test.

Turning Pro is a decision, and it’s one of the most challenging and significant decisions we can make.

Because when we turn Pro, we step into an entirely new world, one that’s scary and messy.

And it’s the greatest thing we can ever do. Because when we turn Pro, we step into our power and seize agency over our lives.

I contemplated the complexity of her suggestion as the subway rocked gently. I felt an internal shift of excitement and gratitude.

Craig Stanland

I write about my journey from corporate success to federal prison and finding joy, mission, meaning, and fulfillment beyond professional and financial success.