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.