Wednesday, September 14, 2011
If you are a would-be writer, James Patterson's thought processes will interest you -- the state of his ego, compared to yours and mine.
In my office's lavatory, there's a magazine rack. The magazine I grabbed fell open -- lo and behold-- James Patterson, writer of books that I've read, liked, didn't like, hated, admired -- was talking about himself.
Everything this guy writes turns into a best seller. For me as a reader, quite often the story is too slick and hard to follow -- too often I have to re-read to stay with the plot.
In July's Time, answering readers' questions, Patterson said, "I'm a story teller!" He explained that he has a staff -- he works on many projects simultaneously -- screenplays, short stories, comic book ideas, kids' books, as well as mystery novels. (My staff is John Cullum, my favorite actor, reader, and Fran Weil, web designer, editor-- we work on one project at a time, though Fran is also creating the covers for my e-books.)
Patterson "loves to write plots," and admits, "I don't remember my character's names, but characters are not my specialty." (Gee, more than anything I enjoy birthing a character -- everything about him/her -- they become part of my life.)
Back in his mid-twenties, Patterson's s first mystery, "The Thomas Berryman Number," was turned down by 31 publishers but got the "Edgar" award for the best first novel. ( Edgar is the literary world's Oscar for mystery writers.)
Is Patterson super lucky? Or is it his talent? My first novel was turned down 55 times so my agent stopped sending it out. But major agents have represented me. One of my novels was published by Bantam; my biography, written by a sports writer was published by Prentice Hall. Neither book sold 10,000 copies --both were "dumped" by the publishers, on sale in bargain pins.
Patterson says he learned early on that "story" is what matters. He said, "My favorite books,- 'One Hundred Years Of Solitude,' and 'Ulysses,' are very complicated but my own style -- we just tell a story." (His favorites are considered masterpieces by many critics, but for me, they're a struggle to read.)
"What's the hardest part, for you, as a writer?" a reader asked Patterson.
"The end, to make sure it's there. If I'm not satisfied, then I don't feel like I enjoyed this dinner somehow," Patterson explained, adding that he's "very emotional about writing the end." (To me, he sounds like a very emotional, business man, but I like him, he's down to earth, and unpretentious.)
Since most everyone I know, at some point has wanted to be successful writer, I wonder how Patterson's revelations affect you. (I have to admit, his success makes me feel like a failure.)
A reader asked Patterson, "Wwhat do you do when you're not writing?". Patterson said that he was a family person -- he loves to travel and he loves golf. Well, I'm blogging on Facebook -- is that a recreation? I don't earn a living from writing, but the fact is, my recreation is writing.
How does Patterson feel about other authors who criticize him for not having much style? He says, 'There are thousands of people who don't like what I do. Fortunately there are millions who do."
I'm saying that I don't think I will be a best seller writer when I grow up. My wishful thinking is down-to-earth practical. I just want what I wrote to be read.
Hurray -- my novels are being published as e-books, and YOU are reading this post!