Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Four years ago I was in the middle of writing a sci-fi when my brain went blank.  Three days into watching the cursor blink on the screen, I kicked back in my office, stared out the window and cranked up volume on the speakers.  My Rhapsody play list included a bit of everything but opera and spirituals.  Douglas Spotted Eagle, Tom Petty and Buffalo Springfield; then came the opening strains of Alan Parson's "Turn of a Friendly Card". 

I love this song.  So naturally I'm singing along and suddenly the question popped into my head.  Anyone with a creative mind be you writer, chef or chainsaw artist knows this question.  For most of us it begins "what if". 

A few hours later I had written the first chapter of DESERT.  Then I figuratively put it on the shelf and went back to writing the sci-fi.  Problem solved; I was a happy camper.  The words were flowing faster than I could type.  People around me breathed a huge sigh of relief.  Life was normal once again. 

Months later with the sci-fi completed I returned to this lonely chapter to inquire of female lead "how did you get yourself into that predicament?"  Remembering the song that sparked the idea I set the playback to loop and started writing. 

Now after all the rewrites and head-banging-on-keyboard editing DESERT is being shopped to literary agents.  I find this a very frustrating process.  Allow me to clarify that statement.  I realize this is my debut novel and I've a lot to learn about the industry.  However, there is one question that has popped up that, to borrow a Southern term, is killing me. 

"What makes me uniquely qualified to write this novel?" 

 IF I had written a non-fiction, I would thoroughly understand the question. DESERT is fiction. 

My mother was an artist. She has sold paintings in all of the Americas, Europe and Japan. Believe me, Mom would have gone ballistic had someone asked what qualified her to paint a picture. Even back when she was first forging a name, pity the person who voiced that question. Easily it would have taken the police riot squad, National Guard and a dozen sanitation trucks to deal with Mom going nuclear. And even though she's been dead nine years we'd still be hearing about it.

To be asked how I'm qualified to write makes me feel like instead of the synopsis I should send: high school and college report cards; Mensa test scores showing eligibility and affidavits from my proofreaders. 

What qualifies a person to write fiction?  The obvious answer is imagination. 

Help me out here.  How would you, or did you, answer this question? 

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