So you can read my books

Wednesday, July 5, 2017


John Green would tell you it is to find emotional truth ...

   Even if we’re not the same as the characters we read, they are all dealing with things:

   issues of who they are, who they should be, what they should and shouldn’t do

   that we all deal with, in their own ways.

Authors from John Steinbeck to Nicholas Sparks would say it is Perseverance.

Authors from Stephen King to Alyssa Rosenberg explaining that to be a successful writer

you to need to read everything and everyone on your subject.

If you’re a day late on an old idea, you’re not of any use.

If you want to get further depressed, listen to the poet, Ranier Maria Rilke tell you:

“Nobody can advise you and help you, nobody.”  

But that's poets for you.

Work ethic, knowledge, skill, perseverance -- 

none of them is as important as the one, single most important thing:


You don’t want to be told that, to some fairly consequential degree, your success, or lack thereof, is beyond your control.

But it’s good to keep in mind that if there were a sure formula for success, everyone would be successful —

and that if talent and hard work were the key to fame and fortune,

there wouldn’t be so many talented hacks with bestsellers.

So do you give up?

Of course not.

You just accept reality for what it is: mostly out of your control.

Since you cannot control luck --

You work on what you can control:

Work ethic, knowledge, skill, perseverance

There comes a point where no one is going to tell what you should read,

what you should write,

and moreover, no one is going to point this out for you.

Making time to write is not easy, but until we all win the Powerball,

we all need to carve out a few hours each week to focus on our writing.

Protect this time with your life.

One last thing:

 Pick an Idol & Act “As If”.

You may not know what to do, but your professional idol does.

When I’m working on a novel, and I’m stuck, I often think

“What would Roger Zelazny do here?”

Sometimes, Roger would have the exact right approach …

other times, it’s obvious that he’s no help.

Maybe it’s Fitzgerald. Maybe it’s O’Connor. Maybe it's Raymond Chandler.

Maybe it’s none of them.

But thinking about the writing as if I were (fill in the blank)

helps to make me see that there are multiple ways to approach a story,

multiple ways to make decisions, organize the manuscript.

I hope this helps in some small way.


  1. Very insightful list. I agree luck does play a large role. You need that right idea, at that right moment, read by that right person for the floodgates to open and the world is at your feet. LOL I'm over here also waiting to win the lotto, but since I don't play I'll be waiting a good long while. Guess I can go write while I'm waiting on my numbers to drop from that little machine. :)

    1. Yes, all we can do is write the best prose we can to be ready if lightning ever strikes us! :-)

  2. Rather than luck I like to call it timing. Right place, right moment. The point where it all collides. Just hopefully not as it goes down the drain...

    1. Timing indicates control which most of us struggling writers do not have. We must trust our prose is good enough should luck's spotlight shines on us! Ouch. :-)

  3. "Shoot first and then draw a target." I love that!

    For me, it's always been perseverance.

    1. Hemingway and J K Rowling would agree with you!

  4. What would J.A.Jance do? Sit her butt down in the chair and spin another rule-breaking but riveting mystery, then get up for frequent walking breaks. Good advice!

    1. Mentors, imaginary or real, are often the key to success in a writer's dream! :-)

  5. Interesting idea. Put yourself in the other writer's shoes and ask "What if?"

    I think I subscribe to the Rilke philosophy.

    1. Such a grim philosophy! Besides I think a thing or two about writing better can be taught -- but then this comes from a former creative writing teacher!!

  6. So, we are basically on our own? That sucks! Better work on those personality traits... :-) I love the quote and your approach to being/remaining inspired.

    1. Thanks, Lisbet! We all must write alone but our fellow writers can cheer us on, right? :-)

  7. There's been so many cases where books have broken big just by coming along at the right time. I guess that means it could happen to any of us. But in the meantime, it's definitely the best approach to focus on what we can control.

  8. Writing for me isn't the problem, it's publishing and marketing. But since I'm taking a much more lighthearted approach, I don't care so much about success or failure.

  9. Hi Roland - relating to others is an essential - and what would you like if it was the other way round ... you'd want people to be relatable and receive something that's of value and sensible in the reply ... cheers Hilary

  10. Luck comes to those who work for it. :)

    I am also a big Roger Zelazny fan.

  11. Good points. Luck certainly comes into play along with that horrid word: subjective.