|Have faith. Better days are ahead.|
Try finding an agent the Clive Cussler-Way
Author and shipwreck-explorer Clive Cussler, who recently passed away, used the $80 million of his publishing earnings to start a real-life National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA), the organization his fictional character, Dirk Pitt, spearheaded in the 22 books Cussler wrote with Pitt as his hero. “The square-jawed Pitt is forever saving the world—and beautiful women—from the schemes of evildoers, typically by retrieving lost artifacts from shipwrecks.” In real life, Cussler’s organization located some 60 shipwrecks, including “a lost Confederate ironclad and a steamship belonging to Cornelius Vanderbilt.”
What a great idea! Think up a fictional pastime for your character and then start one in real life! I'll try it!
If you’re looking for an agent, here’s an idea for you. When Cussler couldn’t interest anyone in his manuscripts, he created a bogus literary agency, and on its fake stationery that he concocted, he became an “industry veteran” about to retire, and offered his services to other agents. That’s how he found his longtime agent.
I think I’ll try that, too. Then I can retire from self-publishing!
Cussler went on to write many other works including children’s stories and nonfiction books. When asked if he would ever quit, he said in 2015, “H&^% no . . .They may find me behind the computer, just bones and cobwebs.”
That reminds me of the terrific National Geographic show Genius I watched about Albert Einstein months back, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SICLBlHizUY, which at the end depicted Einstein sitting up in bed, pen in hand working on a formula, only to have the pen slip out of his hand when, to the world’s great loss, met his Maker. I’ve never forgotten that scene, or the whole show for that matter, though I might wind up falling out of my chair with my fingers still attached to my keyboard.
To Pseudonym or Not to Pseudonym
Stephen King couldn’t fool Steve Brown, this astute bookstore clerk, writer, and fanzine publisher, when Brown read Richard Bachman’s novels. Brown had a chance to talk on the phone to the author himself when King called him to discuss what to do about his famous pseudonym.
I especially enjoyed this article because I had had the privilege of writing a biosketch of Stephen King for the library journal, Biography Today. In the early 70's, King, who had learned the basics of writing as a staff writer and editor for his high school newspaper and earned a B.S. in English at the University of Maine, had written many novels that were repeatedly rejected. While famously living in a trailer with his wife, Tabitha Spruce King, also a successful and acclaimed author, and teaching high school English, King wasn’t selling anything. He began Carrie, the story of an unpopular high-school girl who possesses a special power, “But after four pages, I thought it stank and threw it in the rubbish,” King said. “I came home later and found Tabby had taken them out and left a note. ‘Please keep going—it’s good.’ Since she’s really stingy with her praise, I did.”
In 1977, King sought to establish an additional outlet for his numerous book ideas. Under the name Richard Bachman, King wrote four books: Rage, The Long Walk, Roadwork, and The Running Man. In 1985, King called the Olsson’s Bookstore in Washington, D.C. and told Steve Brown, “This is Stephen King. Okay, you know I’m Bachman, I know I’m Bachman, what are we going to do about it? Let’s talk.” King's reason? The Brachman titles had been wallowing in relative obscurity. Brown wrote a letter to King’s agent telling him as much, and the Bachman name soon perished, King wrote, owing to “cancer of the pseudonym.”
Take heart. If you’re writing under a pseudonym, you might have better luck than Stephen King.
Inspirational Quotes from Famous Authors
To further brighten your day, I close with a few of my favorite quotes by famous authors about writing:
Most writers regard the truth as their most valuable possession, and therefore are most economical in its use.
– Mark Twain
It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.
– Ernest Hemingway
If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn’t matter a damn how you write.
– Somerset Maugham
To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme.
– Herman Melville
Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.
– Henry David Thoreau
It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.
– C. J. Cherryh
I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell an interesting story entertainingly.
– Edgar Rice Burroughs
Obituary of Clive Cussler, 1931-2020, The Week, March 13, 2020.
Biography Today, Vol. 1, 1995.
Photo: by Linda Wilson
|Watch for Secret in the Stars|
Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 150 articles for adults and children, and several short stories for children. She has recently become editor of the New Mexico SCBWI chapter newsletter, and is working on several projects for children. Follow Linda on Facebook. Website coming soon.