The Book Passage Mystery Writers’ Conference began today (Thursday), and I am tired already. But it’s a good tired, the fatigue that sets in after doing a worthy day’s work. As co-chair, I’m back there tomorrow morning, and again on Saturday and Sunday. Our Cornelia is on the faculty, one of about eight “conference alumni” who are here this year on the teaching side.
There are many aspects of the conference that I love, but the best thing is that it is truly all about the students, who by the end of four days of lectures, workshops, practical sessions and “in conversation” debates and dialogues, go home filled with (among other things) resolve to do what it takes to become a published author. This journey is not for the faint-hearted, so I take my hat off to the students. In attending the conference they are making an important statement: I am a writer. Not “will be” or “hope to be” but “am” a writer. They’re walking the talk.
It’s amazing how many writers have had to come to the brink of something untoward or go through a difficult time before they galvanize themselves to write a book. For Lee Child, it was being laid off at work. Check this out, from June 22nd’s Guardian newspaper:
“Fired from his job at Granada Television at the age of 40, Lee Child was suddenly on the scrapheap with a family to support. Refusing to panic, he spent £3.99 on paper and pencils with the ambition of writing the biggest-selling book in the world's biggest market: America.
Thirteen years later, Child reaches the summit today when his 12th novel, Nothing to Lose, starring his anti-hero Jack Reacher, goes straight to number one in the New York Times hardback fiction list, 10 places ahead of Sebastian Faulks's James Bond rework Devil May Care. It is the culmination of a breakthrough year in which he has also had the number one paperback in America and topped both charts in Britain - a quadruple thought to be unique for a crime writer.”
Jeffrey Archer wrote “First Among Equals” when he was absolutely skint and looking at the business end of bankruptcy (known to fly close to the wind, is Jeffrey). I think he wrote it in about two weeks.
I had been noodling around with my first novel for a few months when I had a really bad accident. I knew I needed to finish that book or lose my sanity while off work for months on end, unable to drive and living in a rural area with no public transportation services. But the bottom line is that it took that accident to tip me into a writing frenzy.
So, if you’re an unpublished writer out there, or you’ve always wanted to write that book but didn’t know where to start – take heed. Do not wait until life throws you a big old curve ball before you begin or even to take the next step toward publication. When the universe hits you with a two by four it tends to hurt. So, do it now. Just get in there, get in the game and write.
Or on the other hand, maybe it works to let Fate take a hand. Trouble is, you never know quite what Fate has in store.
And on another matter, I just had to share this with you. Cornelia and I were perusing the shelves of rather old books yesterday (Book Passage sells used books on behalf of the local hospice), and came across a 1936 publication entitled: “Be Glad You’re Neurotic.” We cracked up laughing at that one, and I knew I just had to have that book. So, for your reading pleasure, here’s the first paragraph:
“The prefatory note of a book is always the excuse for its existence. Every author is conscience stricken when attempting to palm off another volume upon an already all-too-patient and always hopefully expectant Public.”
I’ve recently finished my sixth novel. Palming Off is set for next February.
Now, it’s back to the conference ....
Have a lovely weekend.