To Write, or not to Write?

I have always been a writer. My attempts at writing go back to my teen years. Yes, I made my living as a TV weatherman, but having a “day job” is not unusual for authors. In those TV days I wrote a weekly column for newspapers, and published a booklet titled “WeatherTalk.”. In the late ‘50s I worked at WFGA-TV in Jacksonville, FL. There was a nice lady there who did the morning show and she knew about my ambition to be an author. She was a friend of the famous writer Frank G. Slaughter. She arranged a meeting for me with him. Mr. Slaughter was a slight, unassuming and quiet man and very cordial to me. He took me into his writing office. There were strings with clothes pins holding index cards stretched from wall to wall above his desk. On those cards he had “plot notes.” He shuffled the cards around until he was satisfied with his plot and then he sat down and wrote another novel. Several of his books were made into movies. His advice to me was, “Keep writing.” I did, but with little success. I began collecting folders full of rejection letters.

In the ‘60s and ‘70s I wrote stories which I submitted to popular magazines that published short fiction. Most were rejected. I picked up a literary agent during that period, who was well connected with publishers. So, in 1980 I wrote my first full-length novel. Friends who read the manuscript said it was good. It wasn’t. It had a decent plot, but the writing was terrible. My agent tried to sell it. Thank God it never got published. But it was good experience. One has to pit in the work of writing a 250-300 page novel to “pay one’s dues” and I learned much from it.

After I retired from TV I devoted my time to writing using my experiences as an aviator and an ocean sailor. That resulted in four published “Tropical” novels. I added a contemporary novel and lots of short story collections. I’ve proven I’m a writer, so what do I do now?

I’ve never written for “money” and no one should. You should write because you can entertain people with good stories. Thousands of people read my novels for “free” through Amazon’s free-reading programs. But the “confirmation” that you are a good writer is from sales of your work, much like an artist who sells paintings. And the truth is that sales stink. For instance, in the month of September only six of my books were purchased while tons of pages were read for free. Those who enjoy my novels urge me to write another one. But I’m an old guy now and my priorities have changed and my time on this earth is limited. The reviews of my novels are always good, but finding them among the million and a half other books on Amazon is a matter of luck. Do I want to devote one of my few remaining years to writing one more book that few people will find and buy?. I’m going to have to give that decision a lot of thought.

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About johnbeckmanbooks

John Beckman, a retired meteorologist, was known as “Johnny the Weatherman” in a career that spanned forty years. He forecasted the weather on WSJS-TV in Winston-Salem, NC, at WFGA-TV in Jacksonville, FL, and for thirty-three years in Atlanta at WSB-TV and WXIA-TV. Also a well published author Beckman now devotes full time to writing fiction. He currently has several eBooks on Amazon.com, "Tropical Knights," first in a series of adventure/mysteries about a sailor and his lovely CIA cohort on a mission to save America. Now available the sequel, and second in the series: "Tropical Daze." The third Jack & Amy adventure is "Tropical Rage" which became available on 30 April 2014. All of his books are highlighted on http://johnbeckmanbooks.com and available from Amazon.com. . .
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