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!


Larry Enright said...

He's right - it's the story that counts. Nice post, Em.

Claude Bouchard said...

Good post, Em. The thing about writing is, one has to love doing it. Sure, we all want to be best-selling authors but anyone writing strictly to make money isn't writing from the heart. However, if one writes well and has great stories, if one believes and persists, one can be successful as a writer. That is where I'm going. :)

Anonymous said...

I have never read one of James Patterson's books-too long, complicated, and would have to reread to keep up, but my mom has read every book he has written. I feel better hearing about the high number of rejections he has gotten on his younger books not getting published. Once he got his foot in the door and tasted success-there was no way stopping his talent for mystery writing! We each succeed on our own level of Emily with your dancing, now ebooks, em blog. Me-striving to find a publisher. And yes, I am reading all you write Emily cause your talent goes beyond Patterson's---your books touch the heart and mind and I can follow the story where his I get lost and forget which character did what. Keep it coming Emily!!
kam Kathleen Ann McGee

Anonymous said...

Em, Correct, you are read everyday with the click of a key board. You brighten people's day, are enjoyed and you inspire people. You are practical you know that achieving your goals comes with hard work and talent. I know you know that when you put yourself out there on the stage or in writing you are sharing 'you' to many people some don't understand, some don't care, but those you reach with your writing by touching their lives is a beautiful thing. Thanks for writing what you do, you are loved and appreciated more than you know. xxxxooo H.

Carola said...

I have never read James Patterson. Maybe I should. I think publishing must be a crap shoot. The author has to have a wave-length to the tastes of the public, AS INTERPRETED by miscellaneous editors. It's the editorial filter that makes it a real crap shoot.

Linda Phillips said...

I know I have never read him...but it seems to me that there were a few made for TV movies based on his novels.

I really dislike books with a zillion characters that are confusing and require rereading. My mind goes straight forward. I hate confusion.

Your writing is straight to the point and I love it!