Michael Connelly didn’t write this line. I believe it was Andrew Marlowe but if I’m wrong, someone please tell me in the comments section. But he delivered it in the aforementioned poker scene and it is something that came to mind when I was arguing with a writer who only had his first book available on Amazon for the past three years.
The line goes like this and can be viewed here:
“You know what I did when I wrote my first book? I shut up and wrote twenty-three more.”
The person I argued with has a book available on Amazon. Self-Published, it was posted four years ago. I won’t list the title here, because I found this author to be a bit high on himself. His only claim to fame was a blogger who compared him to Stephen King and Lee Child.
I’ve been compared to authors before. A good friend said a vampire story I wrote reminded him of HP Lovecraft. After reading my first Nicodemus Dean book, another friend said it called to mind the works of Raymond Chandler and PG Wodehouse. Another story I wrote was compared to Agatha Christie.
I was flattered and grateful for the comparisons. I don’t brag about them, because the difference between me and those authors is that 99% of the world knows who they are. The reason is that they kept writing and didn’t allow the praise or the glamour to distract them.
This up and coming author wrote the first book in a trilogy and the next parts are not yet available. He posted on a thread how he couldn’t believe that his book went lower on the rankings, because his book beat a Stephen King novel as best seller. Yeah, I’m sure Stephen King is holding his pet box tortoise in fear and weeping into the century old whiskey that he can afford now.
It’s okay to be confident. It’s okay to even brag with your poker buddies over success and to occasionally haze an author who is for all intents and purposes, a neophyte. But if you’ve only written one book in your life and your name isn’t Harper Lee, your success is not going to be measured by one book and a couple of favorable comparisons.
Shut up and write twenty-three more books.
(By the way, Mollie, if you’re reading this, I’m taking my own advice. I’ll be writing the third book of the Nicodemus Dean series soon)