I probably don’t take writing as seriously as some people do. That doesn’t mean I don’t care about how good my writing is. Since I write for a living (as well as for pleasure), I have to be sure my writing is as good as I can get it and that each assignment is completed by its deadline. Rather, I mean that I don’t think of writing as some incredible blessing bestowed only on the chosen few.
Tom Clancy died back in 2013 and the radio station I listen to did a little piece about him. I have to admit I never read any of his books, but I did see the film version of The Hunt for Red October and I do know that the initial manuscript for the book was published by Annapolis’ Naval Institute Press—which had never published a novel before—after all the major publishers turned it down. With a little help from President Ronald Reagan, who hosted Clancy in the White House, the book became a hit, and thereafter Clancy was published by traditional publishers. The radio station played a clip of an interview in which Clancy, talking on the subject of writing, said, “You learn to write the same way you learn to play golf. You do it, and keep doing it until you get it right. A lot of people think something mystical happens to you, that maybe the muse kisses you on the ear. But writing isn’t divinely inspired; it’s hard work.”
Clancy was an insurance agent before he became a full-time writer. He wrote The Hunt for Red October while he was still working at his nine-to-five. His rather pedestrian attitude about writing belies the fact that he was a great storyteller. He had the knack. He learned the craft. When all else failed and he couldn’t get attention from the industry big boys, he had the chutzpah to go to the naval academy and get them to publish his book. I don’t know how he got on Reagan’s guest list, but I bet there’s an impressive story behind that too.
The point is Clancy had talent, discipline, balls, and luck. Whether we’ve read him or not, we all know his name. If he had only had talent and discipline, we might not know who he was. He didn’t want to be put on a pedestal because, as he knew, no muse found him on Google Maps and showed up to plant a kiss on his ear.
No muse has been to my house either, or at least not that I know of. I have some talent, a lot of discipline, I’m working on chutzpah, and as for luck, I do everything I can to attract it. I’ve had some small successes to date, and I hope to have more in the future. And in the meantime, I keep on writing. Day after day. Without any regrets.
Joan Schweighardt is a former indie publisher who now works as a freelance writer, ghostwriter, and editor. The Accidental Art Thief is her fifth novel.
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About the Book
Title: The Accidental Art Thief
Genre: General fiction
Author: Joan Schweighardt
Publisher: Twilight Times Books
For a quarter of a century forty-five-year-old Zinc has worked as a caretaker for a wealthy old man, living in a small casita on his ranch in New Mexico. She doesn’t make much money, but she has the old man, her dogs, and gorgeous views of the mountains. She is basically a very content recluse who doesn’t invest much time thinking about what she might do if her circumstances change. So when the old man dies suddenly, and his daughter all but throws her off the property, Zinc is forced to reinvent herself—and quickly.
With a touch of magical realism and a collection of offbeat characters, The Accidental Art Thief explores the thin line between life and death and the universal forces that connect all things.
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