Saturday, June 23, 2007

What I Know

Before I begin writing what I want to say today, I’d like to ask you not to comment that I’m lucky with the career I have (I know) or it can still happen (it can’t) or I should be grateful, or accepting or any of those things.  I am.  I do.

Many people have written me to say they like my honesty.  So that’s what I’m doing here.  I’m being honest.

On Amazon they let you have a wish list.  This is my writing life wish list.

I wish I had Ed’s productivity.  Janet’s energy.  Sue’s popularity.  Mary’s name recognition.  Dan’s money. And most of all I wish I had Laura’s career. 

There was a time when it looked like I was going to have some of those things but it never happened.  I believe it was because of the choices I made.  And a little bad advice.

I believe I’m a good writer.  Not great. But Good.  And that should be enough to have some of the things I’ve enumerated. In fact we all know of bad writers who have some or all of those things. Timing and luck are a big part in this hellish game we play.

I hear about the new upcoming writers and I read them.  Some are damn good.  I wish I could be part of them, in their grade, their class, so to speak.  But it’s no longer my time.

Twenty years ago I was in the class with a bunch of new writers.  Some became household names others are like me and still others can’t get published anymore.  They’ve disappeared.  Some should’ve disappeared, others not.

I know the breakthrough book isn’t going to happen for me.  That’s okay.  I had my chance.  Now, despite my wishes, which, by the way, are for the forty year old me, I don’t have any idea if I’ll publish again.  Or write again.  I’m inclined to think I’ll write, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be published. That’s not okay.  But there’s not a damn thing I can do about it.

I hope the next book I write is good.  Still, it won’t be the kind of book that’ll make me a household name or bring in loads of money.  That’s okay, too.  I want whatever I write to see the light of day and make back the money I was paid. At this point in my writing life that’s all that’s important. 

Am I committing publishing suicide by writing this?  Maybe.  But I’m still naive enough to believe that if I write a good book whatever I say here won’t matter.

And one more time:  I’m grateful for the career I have.


Terrie Farley Moran said...


Thanks for this post. I started reading your blog when Ed Gorman recommended it in the Blog Bytes in EQMM some time ago. He said that you give the most honest portrayal of what life as a writer is really like.

I have learned and still learn from you. Hurray for your honesty! Best wishes for a strong, bright future.


pattinase (abbott) said...

How about this? I'd be thrilled to have your career. I wish I had tried to write at an age when I could say I'd written 19 books or even 5. No one who isn't pretty damned good can find publishers for 19 books. Give yourself a pat on the back because I can't reach that far.

Sandra Scoppettone said...

As I said, I'm grateful for my career. I'm not whining about the one I have. And I know having written and published 19 books is no small thing. All I was doing in this post was expressing some wishes, stating the reality of publishing and the rest of my career.

Ed Gorman said...

I've slowed way down, Sandra. I used to write two mysteries and a western a year. Last year I wrote a mystery and that was it. My cancer's a big part of it but so is age and judgement. I have a mystery novel coming out next year called Sleeping Dogs that is my favorite book since Blood Moon. I took my time and I did three full drafts.

I believe without qualification that you have the talent and energy to write a book that could be a big success--big relative to your career thus far.

All of us sixty-somethings with a goodly number of books behind us face the same problems. Hell, I'd say the same is true for fifty-somethings, too. Mick Jagger was asked fifteen years ago what one thing he'd like and he said "I'd like to be new again." I think that applies to all of us in the arts/show business. There's something to be said for being younger and fresh.

But that doesn't mean our best is necessarily behind us. Chandler wrote his best book (for me anyway) The Long Goodbye in his early sixties. And Cain wrote his best book as he was wrapping up his forty-ninth year, Mildred Pierce. And Simenon wrote one of his best Maigrets when he was sixty. And Evan Hunter wrote one of his best suspense novels when he was in his seventies and mortally ill with cancer.

So age is sometimes beside the point. Popularity is another matter as is the ideal career. The career I wish I could have had is Richard Matheson's. Matheson (again by my lights) has excelled in horror, western and suspense and in short stories as well as novels as well as in screenplays (Duel, anyone?).

But God Sandra you have the talent and the skills. And you can certaily find the energy. You've demonstrated that over and over. The only question is--and you say you've answered it but I'm hoping you haven't--is do you have the will.

Love, Ed

Michael Prescott said...
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