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Friday, February 01, 2013
Guest Post from Tom Winton: I Didn’t Always Want To Be a Writer
Tom Winton is the author of three novels including Four Days with Hemingway’s Ghost which I very much enjoyed. This is his post on his path as a writer. Enjoy!
I Didn’t Always Want To Be a Writer
In my day to day contacts with writers all over the world, I can’t tell you how many times I heard folks say things like, “I’ve been writing stories since I was six years old.” or “I wrote my first novel when I was just seventeen.” or “I wanted to be an author ever since I read Flaubert’s Madame Bovaryin high school.” While I wish that Ihad started stringing words together when I was six, sixteen, twenty-six or even thirty-six, I can’t honestly say that I did. I was a late bloomer.
By the time I was in my mid forties I had been reading for quite some time, and there were fleeting moments when I entertainedthoughts of writing something. But I always nixed the idea, thinking I was too busy livinglifeto bother to sit down and write about it.
Nevertheless, I thought it would be something else to be able to live like Ernest Hemingway—write in the mornings, fish my afternoons away, and party every night with a bunch of famous and infamous friends. Yes, Iwantedto be a writer but I didn’t want to pay the piper. I wasn’t ready to stand for hours and hand write stories on lined yellow pads like ole Hem did. I wasn’t ready to sit on my tail and do it either. But I sure dreamed about getting the fame and respect that accomplished authors so often do. Then one day I woke up.
After ten or so years of never having less than six books lying in wait, alongside my recliner, I finally thought, Oh hell, I can do this writing thing! I can do it better than most of these guys and girls I’ve read. Shoot, three quarters of the books I start I never finish. I know I can do better. How hard can it be to describe a green hill in Africa, or a southern plantation gone kaput in Georgia? Ha…lemme go get a pad. I’ll whip something up right now.
Oh boy…was I wrong!
I went and got a spiral notebook, plopped right back in my easy chair, and thought I was about to begin my great American novel. What did I accomplish that first sitting?–nada–as in not a damn thing. I had no idea whereto begin. My second try was just as fruitless. So were the next, and the next, and every other attempt I made for two solid years. If I wasn’t out fishing, working, running around somewhere, or reading, I’d be in that soft mauve chair agonizing over what a flunky I was with a pen.
I was living on Florida’s Gulf Coast at that time but one day, after moving across the state to the east coast, I found myself on a quiet beach with that empty notebook again. I thought that maybe, if I took a folding chair with me and sat on the beach, I might finally get something down on paper. And I did. I don’t remember how much I wrote that day, but I did begin my first novel. Why was I finallyable to come up with something halfway decent? Did my muse float in on a wave along with all the brown seaweed on that beach? Had my inspiration surfaced ten miles out in the Gulfstream and blown in on the easterly wind? I don’t think so.
I think what happened is that I finally had a worthwhile story worked out in my mind. I had a beginning—a middle—and an end. That’s all I’d needed all along. Well, almost all I needed. The rough plot I had in my head certainly gave me confidence but so did something else. I did exactly what Ernest Hemingway, time and time again, told aspiring writers. He used to say, “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.” And I did.
While beginning a new novel still isn’t easy for me (none of the writing process is), there aren’t many things in this mad, maddening world I’d rather do. I can’t think of anything that’s as rewarding as a productive morning at the keyboard. And I’m awfully glad that I learned what writing one true sentence can lead to.
In the last two years I’ve had three novels published. I’ve had two different publishers but parted ways with both of them. Now all my books are self-pubbed and will continue to be–until the “big six”publishers have a bidding war over them. Ha! Talk about a classic example of a writer’s imagination running wild!
All kidding aside, I must say that my novels have had some small successes.
My first two books, Beyond Nostalgiaand The Last American Martyr (before publication) where both finalists for Random House’s YouWriteOn“Book of the Year.” Since publication, both books have been Amazon (multi-category) Bestsellers–four times each. My third book,Four Days with Hemingway’s Ghost, came out last summer. It too has been a bestseller, twice. Two weeks ago my most recent work came out on Amazon—a novella entitled Within a Man’s Heart, I have high hopes for it as well.
But despite all that, the biggest rewards I’ve gotten for my efforts have been the reviews and emails I’ve received from readers. Many of them have been nothing short of stunning. And they, more than anything, are what keep my literary hopes alive.
Links to Tom’s Books
Four years after burying his young wife, New York sales executive Christian Crews still can’t move forward with his life. Day after day, treasured memories of his beloved Elyse continue to drift through his spirit like an endless procession of mournful ghosts.
Chris wants to leave Manhattan—walk away from his job and the apartment he and Elyse once shared. He dreams of moving to New Hampshire, where he feels he just might have a chance of finding peace. But in his grieving mind, breaking away from those memories would be the same as abandoning Elyse—an unforgivable act of betrayal he could never live with.
Then, on the fourth anniversary of Elyse’s death, Chris makes two shocking discoveries, and a part of him begins to believe that she would want him to go on with his life.
Two weeks later he makes the move to New Hampshire, and minutes after arriving in the small rural village of Mountain Step, he meets a beautiful local woman with mesmerizing gray eyes and a heart as big as the surrounding mountains. Beginning another emotional relationship may be the last thing on Chris’s mind, but he soon finds himself falling for Gina Elkin, every bit as hard as she’s fallen for him.
Could there be a future for them? Will Elyse allow it? After all, she’s still deep within Chris’s heart—a place no one else has ever been.
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“A man can learn from his past mistakes, and he should, but reliving them . . . that
does absolutely no good. If you rehash all the poor choices and decisions you’ve made, it’s like stabbing yourself again and again. Your spirit will always carry its deepest scars. There’s no way to eliminate them. And from time to time, they’ll come out of hiding on their own. When they do, let them reprimand you. Take what’s coming; ride it out, get it over with. But by all means, don’t ever entertain them any longer than you have to, and never invite them back.”
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