An article I read today on asked corporate communicators, “What words inspire you?” The author invited readers to share which classic writers they liked to read when they needed inspiration for their own writing.

I thought about the works of great authors that inspired me, and a passage from Louis L’Amour’s The Walking Drum stuck out most in my mind:

I was a landless man, and there was nothing lower, nothing less vulnerable.  One was attached to a castle, serving some great lord, or one was nothing.  We merchant venturers, we were the first of a new kind of man, creating a new kind of wealth.

It’s a fantastic book, in case you’re looking for a good read.  And unlike most of L’Amour’s books, this one is not a Western (which was a plus for me).

Leaving the Castle

Why did this passage inspire me?

I read The Walking Drum the same year I started my business. Venturing out on my own—without an employer to provide health care benefits, a 401(k) or all the other perks you get “serving in the castle”—well, it felt very vulnerable. Did I have what it took to be a new kind of man—er, woman? Could I create a new kind of wealth for myself?

Six years later, I can say it has been an amazing—and yes, sometimes frightening—adventure. But I wouldn’t have traded a minute of it. Well, maybe just a few minutes.

I’m grateful for all of the clients over the years who have helped us become the company we are. As small business owners, we have much in common. We share this merchant adventure, pursuing our business visions and trying to communicate our ideas the best we can.

So, when you get stuck—whether it’s writing, planning a product launch, executing your marketing plan, or just believing you can successfully build your own castle—remember what inspired you in the first place and keep pressing ahead. Chances are you’ll inspire someone else along the way.


An Editor’s Note: Is there an error in old Louis’ text? Shouldn’t this passage say, “there was…nothing more vulnerable,” not less?