March 14th, 2013 by Bob Bly
A couple of weeks ago, in a quiet old cemetery next to a horse
farm, TS, my father-in-law, was buried.
I think TS felt unaccomplished in that he never achieved his
most fervent dream: having a play of his produced in New York.
Oliver Wendell Holmes once said: “Most people die with their
music still in them.”
But I give TS more credit than he gave himself.
TS took 2 years off from work to write his play, move from Maine
to New York City, and attempt to get it produced.
Yes, the play never ran, but it was not for lack of trying.
In this, TS was ahead of the curve: at least he sat down, wrote,
and completed his play.
I know many people who want to write a play or a novel, or
launch a business or create a product, and never get the thing
finished — or worse, even started.
That includes me.
I have always dreamed of being a published novelist, but have
never had a novel published.
That’s due in large part to my never having written a novel.
I made a few false starts, but never got past the first ten
pages on any of them.
My excuse I tell people is that I never had an idea for a story
I thought could sustain a novel-length work.
The other excuse is that I already write all the time, so had no
time for fiction.
I can’t give you a formula that guarantees you will be
successful as a playwright, novelist, inventor, entrepreneur, or
But I can give you a formula that guarantees your failure: don’t
write the play or novel, or start the business, or build the
I am ashamed to say that this is the formula I followed in my
career as a novelist, with the results indicated above.
I close with this advice from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:
“Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has
genius and power and magic in it.”
Do as I say. Not as I do.
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