Monday, April 2, 2007

The Key to Writing Success

By Joanna Campbell Slan

“If there is a key to writing success, it’s this…You go into a room alone and leave behind those you love and you do your work without excuse,” said Randy Wayne White to a crowd of about 100 at a book signing event at the lovely Vero Beach Book Center in Vero Beach, Florida. The presentation coincided with the release of his latest (and greatest) thriller in the Doc Ford series, Harvest Moon.

Thanks to White, the rest of us have a succinct response when people say, “I want to write a book. But how do you start?”

Better yet, we can quote White when folks look at us balefully and say, “Ah, but I’ve got so many ideas. I can’t pick one.” The author of 14 books in this series suggested if you are dallying around trying to pick just one idea, you are coming up with excuses. After a pause, he added, “If you are waiting for that magic combination of events, (it won’t happen).”

Of course, most of us won’t find such dramatic inspiration for our work as White has. White found his central idea for Hunter’s Moon when a former president and his family spent New Year’s Eve with the author and his family. When White’s son needed a knife to open something, the former Chief Executive pulled one from his pocket and grinned. “One of the best things about being president is that I can carry a knife anywhere and never get searched.”

White admitted he felt chills when he wrote the final scene in the book. “It’s my favorite thriller of the group,” he said, as an almost-schoolboy blush colored his already sunburnt face.

Chills? I sat beside a pool surrounded by noisy children and cried as I lowered the book to my lap.

Seriously…it’s that good.


Mark Terry said...

Guess I'll have to run out and get it. I was going to anyway.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Great posting! Another book to add to my groaning TBR pile.

Mark Combes said...

I got hooked on RWW when he was just starting out and still writing for Outside magazine. His story is one of inspiration for all writers I think. Started off as a fishing guide, writing at night etc and when he got his big break, he jumped on it and never looked back. It's been a long road for him, but he kept at it and now must be considered one of the stars of the genre. He's coming to my neck of the woods next week and I look forward to reading the latest in the Doc Ford saga.

Bill Cameron said...

Ha ha. Yes, more to read! Though right now, InkSpotters have dibs on my eyeballs (except I admit I'm kinda caught up in a George Pelecanos too!)

The advice, of course, is excellent. Since people started hearing about Lost Dog, I'm amazed at how many have said to me, "I've always wanted to write a book. I just don't know how to start," or some variation. I've never managed to be as succinct as Randy in my response.

When someone says, "It just seems like it will take so long," I quote something Lawrence Block said. "If you write one page everyday, after a year you have a novel." That's not so long, and one page a day doesn't sound too difficult, right? (Well, some days it does!)

Great post!

Julia Buckley said...

How cute you are! I love that picture of you. Nice to put a face with an MI name.

I will have to pick up the book this summer when I will (with hope) have more reading time.