So You Want to Write?

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I believe there’s an advantage to writing later in life—experience. The drawback is that you have less time to build a body of work.

One thing I’ve learned is that each subsequent book will be better than the last. The more you write, the better your writing will be. The question, of course, is why would you want to write at all? Very few people acquire fame as an author or get rich on book royalties. Your  satisfaction has to come from doing what you want to do and—writing for the pleasure of others.

If you decide to write, don’t let anything stop you—especially the barriers created by the agent/publisher/distributor/bookstore business model. Also, finding an agent and then a publisher is a three-to-five-year process assuming that you are successful at all. If you’re older like me, you don’t buy green bananas and you don’t have three to five years to invest— and you don’t have to. The book business is changing. The gatekeeper role of the agent is weakening. You can just go around them and self-publish. The self-publishing road is now well marked. It wasn’t so well marked when I started. If I have any advantage that equipped me to be one of the early trailblazers, it is that I was born with an excessive amount of unwarranted self-confidence.

Let me share with you a true story. In grammar school, I thought my teacher was the stupidest person I knew. She was always writing things on a big black wall. She had maps that rolled down like window shades.She would pull down one of these shades,take a long wooden pointed stick and start talking about islands and continents, when it was clear that no one could see what she was pointing to. As a young boy, I was so self-confident that it never entered my mind that something may be not right with me. Years later a teacher punched a tiny hole in a 3 x 5 index card and had me hold it up to my eye to look through the hole. Marvel upon marvels, I could see a map! The problem had been me all along! Although I have moderated my attitude and gained a modicum of humility over the years— it’s still the same determination not to be held back by difficulties or obstacles that probably accounts for my entering a second career as a mystery author at age sixty-six. 

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As if poor vision wasn’t enough of a setback—dyslexia runs in the Collins family. In my world, any two or three letter word will substitute for any other. I leave out words and reverse letters. I often write one word thinking I am writing another. Also, I’ve never been able to read names. I’ve always skipped over them when reading. When I studied for a test in school I not only had to review the subject material I had to memorize the order of the letters in the words that would be used in the answers. The moral of my story is— don’t let anything stop you. If you want to write  just do it. For me, I’ve always loved suspense and mystery stories so it seemed natural to write about something I had a passion for. Where did these stories come from? They come from my life. For example the idea for my book, The Claret Murders, began on Christmas Eve when my son and I shared an old bottle of Chateau Cheval Blanc. That event melded with the mental image of an old mansion that I had driven by for years started my thinking. I wondered what secrets and mysteries were buried inside. Life is where your stories will come from and they’re just waiting to be told. Look for those stories and get busy. Write. The easy part is publishing your work. The hard part is making sure that your work is worth the reader’s time.

Good Luck!

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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For Amazon go to For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to eBook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBook’s Store and For the newest adventure novel on Amazon go to Diversion: a Mark Rollins Adventure.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.