I was fortunate enough to attend the inaugural WIT, or the Words, Ideas and Thinkers Festival this past week, hosted by the Authors Guild. I heard Dan Brown talk about the intersection of religion and science, and Adm/Amb (Ret.) Harry Harris and Simon Winchester talk about China, and a slam-bang, standing ovation discussion on reimagining American history between Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and David W. Blight. I saw someone filming the talks and I hope they will be posted online by the AG. If so, I’ll post a link on my Facebook page because you really want hear these people speak.

I also heard Geraldine Brooks (Horse) and Roxana Robinson (Dawson’s Fall) talk about writing. The takeaway:

You have to do the work.

Because both writers do. Robinson took five years to immerse herself in the lives of heroin addicts before writing Cost. As a war correspondent Brooks dined one night on linen and silver with the French Foreign Legion and the next on MREs out of a can with the US Marines. They had plenty more war stories and all of them came down to

You have to do the work.


My one lone privilege in being the founder of Storyknife Writers Retreat is that the six writers in residence come up to my house for dinner once a month. Of course they always want to know what my process is, how I write my books, and often in awed tones ask how I’ve written so many of them. It’s not a new question. I get it in some form at every professional event I attend and ever have attended and probably ever will attend. Or around my own dining table.

I say, as I always do, that there is no magic button. There is no secret handshake. There is no password that gets you through that door, on the one side of which is unpublished and the other side published.

You have to do the work.

It is the butt in the chair, it is the hands on the keyboard, it is setting a goal of words or pages per day and sticking to it grimly until that goal is achieved and I don’t care if it takes until midnight. “You might as well be a ditch digger for all the difference there is in the jobs,” I said once.

Well, okay, that might have been hyperbole. A little. But not by much.

You have to do the work.

If you do, one day you will have a book. Like this one.

The third Eye of Isis novel publishes on November 3rd.
Order a signed hardcover here.
Order for Kindle.US here.
Order for Kindle.UK here.


Dana View All →

Author and founder of Storyknife.org.

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