"Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now."
-W. H. Murray in The Scottish Himalaya Expedition, 1951 (commonly attributed to Goethe--and actually based on a very lose translation by John Anster in 1835, but now maybe we're getting a tad bit esoteric. [I did go back to the German to see just how loose, and let me say very very.)
This quote has been an essential part of my life (always attributed to Goethe because he's easier to remember than all that nonsense above), and not just my writing life. With the power of this quote, I've designed and built houses, flown planes, bicycled around the world, completed massive corporate projects... Oh, and become a professional novelist.
Who knew so much power could lie in such simple words.
So there I was in late 2017, my writing in a massive snarl that I have trouble explaining to people. Across 56 novels and 59 short stories, I have published in 5 genres and 9 major series. If I count all my series, (for example, the Firehawks Lookout Tower romance short stories as distinct from the Firehawks Hotshot romance short stories) I've written in 24 separate series.
Worse, characters cross wildly back and forth through my universe. Emily Beale (one of my main heroines) has a particularly lettered career. She appeared:
- First in 4 Night Stalkers novels (and a couple short stories)
- Then moved on to launch the 5-novels in the Firehawks series
- While still making guest appearances in:
- 3 more Night Stalkers novels
- 4 our of six of the Night Stalkers White House Holiday novels
- And has now moved on to Henderson's Ranch for her retirement
Even where she doesn't appear herself, her reputation often does. And she's not the only character to do this.
It took me a long time to notice that my writing, and far more importantly, my joy of writing was fading away. Each title I tackled belonged in an ever more complex universe that was so heavily peopled with heroines, heroes, couples, and kids that I could barely explain it to myself, much less a reader.
Don't get me wrong, I'm immensely proud of all of those titles. That's one of our household policies: If we don't think that it is better than the prior book, we don't release it. PERIOD! We (my wife is my conscience) have discarded story lines, characters, and twice whole manuscripts--all in the pursuit of bettering my stories and my skills.
But I needed something to revitalize my writing after this great mass of storytelling I've done since I became a full-time author.
That's when I remembered the Murray quote:
"Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now." (He said this on Everest, two years before it was ultimately climbed.)
I had been considering simply paring down. Focus on a few series that were already running. But I didn't find the excitement there.
"What do you want to write?" My embodied conscience asked me.
"Well, I loved writing about the White House, but I think I've written all I can about the politicians."
"What about everyone else? Remember that quote you're always using." See why I fell in love with this lady? How could I not?
So I washed the slate clean. I kept the White House from my holiday series (it has been a HUGE fan favorite), but I've moved behind the scenes.
What it power and security wasn't maintained by those who think they're running the show? I spent decades in corporate America and I certainly learned who keeps everything running. It's not the bosses, no matter what they think.
So, I came up with the White House Protection Force. I doubt if I've had this much fun writing in the last year! (Well, maybe Wild Justice, because that book was seriously cool. And the Love Abroad B&B. And... Okay, I love my own books, what can I say.)
THAT is the power of something new. I had done a ton of research about the White House dog team and Military War Dogs, but I'd never really used them. Boy did I ever. Sometimes it take 4 feet to save the White House.
I would suggest that you ask yourself about the power of NEW. About the power of BEGINNING.
If you're stuck, don't wait!
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.
Begin it now!
M.L. Buchman started the first of over 50 novels and as many short stories while flying from South Korea to ride across the Australian Outback. All part of a solo around-the-world bicycle trip (a mid-life crisis on wheels) that ultimately launched his writing career.
Booklist has selected his military and firefighter series(es) as 3-time “Top 10 Romance of the Year.” NPR and Barnes & Noble have named other titles “Top 5 Romance of the Year.” In 2016 he was a finalist for RWA's RITA award. He has flown and jumped out of airplanes, can single-hand a fifty-foot sailboat, and has designed and built two houses. In between writing, he also quilts. M.L. is constantly amazed at what can be done with a degree in geophysics. He also writes: contemporary romance, thrillers, and SF. More info at: www.mlbuchman.com.