Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Generative Factor

What do Michael Connelly and I have in common?

Now I see some head-scratching as some of my friends try making the comparison. I’ll make it easy for you. We share a number of things in common.

We’re both natives of Pennsylvania. We’re both male. We both write mysteries (okay, his are better known and sell far in excess of mine). We’re both former reporters and worked the crime beat. We both knew early on we wanted to be writers. Our interest in the subject was sparked by our youthful reading.

Enough with the comparisons. I could have as easily chosen a number of other writers born in Pennsylvania—John Dickson Carr (master of the locked room mystery and a favorite in my early introduction to the genre), John D. MacDonald or the noir master David Goodis. For my purpose, I could as well have chosen a number of admirable women writers born in the Keystone State: Jane Haddam, Lisa Scottoline, Martha Grimes or even Mary Roberts Rinehart.

Place of birth is of no consequence in making a writer. Nor is gender. Those are matters over which none of us has control. What does actually contribute to our becoming writers, though, is our early reading, our life experience, our association with other people. This mix, which may or may not be augmented by educational experience, is the generative factor.

Whether we succeed depends as much on persistence as on background. There are many others with similar circumstances who set out to become writers and gave up because they weren’t willing to persevere.

That, my friends, is the telling ingredient.

1 comment:

  1. Ah yes, John, perseverence, an ability not to give up when you get the knock backs. Imagination and the ability to take your mind anywhere you want to go!

    What else do you have in common? You are both good writers.