So you can read my books

Friday, July 19, 2013


Sam McCord here ...

I've lived about as long as this country, and I've seen more than I've understood.

But I know how you writers out there can draw readers to your books.

You satisfy the hunger in them:

There is a need in folks to see themselves ... luckily not in mirrors, for I am denied that.

But in the words of others ... acknowledging their secrets wounds and silent desires.

Take those string of historical romances of white women with "noble" Native American lovers.

You want a slice of Hell? You live the life a white woman suffered in a Sioux or Apache camp.

I lived in those times, and I know.


The authors of those novels "succeeded" like many a politician by telling folks what they wanted to hear.

In this case:
Love can be scary yet still be love.  The bad boy can still be good.  Lots of luck with that, ladies.

Yet TRUTH does matter ... it all depends on what kind of "success" you're aiming for.

Take Margaret Fuller, who is thought to have drowned this day in 1850. Her The Great Lawsuit: Man versus Men, Woman versus Women, was mighty popular in her time --

"We would have every arbitrary barrier thrown down. We would have every path laid open to woman as freely as to man. Were this done, we believe that the Divine would ascend into nature to a height unknown in the history of past ages, and nature, thus instructed, would regulate the spheres not only so as to avoid collision, but to bring forth ravishing harmony...."

Now, that didn't happen as you all well know. But it fed the hunger burning at the time.

Or for another kind of success, another kind of truth take the American poet Eve Merriam who was born on this day in 1916.

Her Inner City Mother Goose was booed and banned from some libraries when it was published in 1969, though it sold very well and became an award-winning musical on Broadway:

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the double lock will keep;
May no brick through the window break,
And, no one rob me till I awake.

Or take the avant-garde poet and playwright Vladimir Mayakovsky who was born on this day in 1893.

 His suicide in 1930, aged thirty-six, is at least partly explained by his depression over what he saw as the collapse of revolutionary ideals after Lenin’s death in 1924.

 His book My Discovery of America sent a mixed message home to his comrades. Amid the criticism for unbounded capitalism is great praise for the country’s exuberance and technology, captured here in an excerpt from his poem “Brooklyn Bridge”:

If the end of the world comes
and chaos smash our planet to bits,
and what remains will be this
bridge, rearing above the dust of destruction;
then, as huge ancient lizards are rebuilt
from bones finer then needles, to tower in museums,
so, from this bridge, a geologist of the centuries
will succeed in recreating our contemporary world.
He will say — that paw of steel
once joined the seas and the prairies;
from this spot, Europe rushed to the West,
scattering to the wind Indian feathers.
What am I trying to say?
Just this:
Tell in your story what the reader wants to believe, needs to believe if you would be popular. 

Tell them what is truth, and you may not succeed as it is counted in dollars, but you will touch the hearts and minds of those who search for the meaning underneath life.
Jane Austen and Emily Dickinson never found fame in their lifetimes.  Only after their deaths did their books find their audience.
Speak of the truth of the human condition: its aches, bruises, and dreams --
And your books may not sell thousands, but those who do read your novels will be the better for it.
Isn't that the kind of success you secretly yearn for?


  1. interesting... i have always heard to be famous means to be dead. and i don't really mean famous, let's say discovered. i told my wife i am leaving all my computers to my friend he will know what to do with my stuff... i should hire him as an agent, now.

  2. "Speak of the truth of the human condition: its aches, bruises, and dreams -- And your books may not sell thousands, but those who do read your novels will be the better for it."

    Yes, that is the success I'd like. I'm a writer and a storyteller, I'm not going to write to trends.
    I want to write a book that makes someone feel like I felt when I read some of the classic scifi. (give me more!)

    As for the fluffy American Native stories - usually fantasies. I'd rather read the true accounts, or Hillerman's Native Indian detective stories. Or listen to Sam McCord. . .

  3. Well, you had me with the Richie Sambora album cover (talk about throwback), but this post is wonderful, and touches on one aspect of writing that I struggle with: When can I say that "I have arrived." I've decided that it's now. I don't make a single cent from my writing, but I continue to produce, my craft improves, and I have a small audience.

  4. And don't compromise just to make a buck.

  5. It's always good to acknowledge our true goals. I write for the love of it, and I'm a bit too honest. It's been hard lately though because some of the reviews on my memoirs aren't always about my writing, but about my life choices instead. I even had someone saying I shouldn't have taken my son off of life support. This writing business, it isn't easy.

  6. Jeremy:
    Mark Twain's daughter and the sisters of Emily Dickinson & Jane Austen heavily edited the work left them for "propriety's" sake, so be sure you trust your friend!

    Your idea of success matches mine! And weren't Tony Hillerman's Native American crime mysteries authentic and riveting?

    I always thought the cover to STRANGER IN THIS TOWN album was so much as I thought of Sam McCord! I believe you are and will be a success!

    To compromise for success cheapens and hollows the victory.

    E C:
    Your life choices are just that: yours. No decision is so easy to make as someone else's! The heart speaks from its abundance, and petty, cruel hearts spill over with hateful remarks. But we should not care what withered hearts think of us. Yet, hateful remarks still hurt. You are in my prayers, Roland