Thursday, April 7, 2016

Lightning In A Bottle

Football player Marshall Faulk once said that he hated breaking a long run early in a game because it made him tired the rest of it.  Maybe that’s the way we writers are if we come up with an exceptional effort on one of our first attempts – it affects the rest of our career.

I say this because that’s what Salvation Day did for me.  As I’ve mentioned many times, Salvation Day was by far my best effort.  I wrote it shortly after reading The Shining by Stephen King, and in the intro to that book, King talks about how most successful writers expand their writing repertoire very early in their careers by stretching beyond what they thought they could do.  Reading this, and then writing Salvation Day, I felt pretty good about myself, figuring I’d found “it.”

What I failed to realize was that I’d captured lightning in a bottle with Salvation Day, and I’ve been trying to do the same ever since, all while realizing just how rare that was.  That’s not to say I haven’t written some novels I feel very good about, just that I haven’t been in a zone like that since.

So how do we go beyond that one-time feeling?  This isn’t one of those times where I ask a rhetorical question only to answer it with aplomb – I really want to know if anyone has insight into this, because the longer one goes without recapturing that result, the more it becomes apparent just how rare that was.  It’s akin to an NFL rookie who makes it to the Super Bowl in his first year – he simply assumes that was the norm and he can look forward to going every other year.  However, as a career goes on, he figures out that getting to the Super Bowl is pretty special, so he should savor it if it ever comes around again.
Go out and find your lightning, and when you find it, enjoy the charge it gives you.


  1. I think what kept me from having that problem is that my books have been in so many different genres--there's always a sense that I'm working on something new, whether it be YA, humor, or history. It was even like that when I wrote the sequel to my first book, the romantic comedy "Storm Chaser". Although the sequel was also a romantic comedy, it leaned much more heavily toward the humor side, so writing it had a different feel.

    Not the best way of doing things from a marketing standpoint, of course!

    1. I don't want to give the impression that I'm not happy with other things I've written. I've written in several different genres as well, but recapturing that perfect story can be challenging. Having it happen so early in my writing career gave me the false impression that it was an ordinary occurrence and kept me from truly appreciating it.