The title of this post is a line from the early 80’s song Once in a Lifetime by the Talking Heads. I think it’s an appropriate title since I’ll be using this first series of blog posts to share how I came to write my first novel.
I’d never viewed myself as a potential writer. Yes, I did a fair amount of writing as an undergrad in the School of Journalism at Mizzou – but I took a journalist’s approach to it. We were taught that the best writing was short, simple and informative. It wasn’t the descriptive type of writing that some novelists use, and we never wrote dialogue.
Before starting my novel, the longest writing project I’d ever completed was a study guide for a Principles of Marketing correspondence course offered by the Center for Independent Study at Mizzou. I wrote it in the summer of 1985; I’m not sure how long it was used but I’m sure it’s long out of print.
One thing you may not know about me: During graduate school, I was a teaching assistant
for Principles of Marketing for four semesters at the University of Missouri;
Brad Pitt was one of my students.
Over the next couple of decades, I did a lot more reading than writing. I read a lot of Stephen King and a ton of non-fiction – sports, biographies, and anything I could find about conspiracies and the paranormal. When my children were old enough to start reading Harry Potter and other Young Adult fiction, my wife and I started reading those also. We wanted to be aware of the kinds of material they were reading – it also didn’t hurt that many of the books were well written and had great characters and interesting plots. The writing wasn’t the flowery, overly descriptive language that I’d often imagined you’d have to use to write a novel.
In 2005 I read a book titled No Opportunity Wasted
, by Phil Keoghan
of CBS’s The Amazing Race
. In the book, Keoghan encouraged readers to embrace adventure and step outside their comfort zones. One of several ways he suggested doing this was to write a book. I gave the idea some thought, but always figured if I did write a book it would be on a non-fiction topic – unless I came up with a good character and plot first. That book had planted a seed, but it would take a while longer for it to grow.
Thanks for sticking with me this far. I’ll be back with part 2 in a few days.
Click here for part 2 of this series.
Click here for part 3.