Stories of people who have become successful writers are very inspiring. When you get to know these people, you find out that talent and luck are not enough. Love for what you do and an insane amount work are what separates the ‘wanna-be-s’ from the ‘are-s’.
Randy Ingermanson, the author of Writing Fiction for Dummies, is one of the ‘are-s’.
Here are some things I learned about Randy:
- Once upon a time, on a totally sunny day, lightning struck Randy and he realized he wanted to become a published author. Like that. Out of the blue. No questions asked, no reasons needed. (I made up the part about lightning … of course. I thought it added drama to that sentence. Stories have to have drama not to make sense!)
- After his (supposedly) Benjamin Franklin lightning moment, Randy spent two years working on his first novel before he realized it was fatally flawed. Beyond any chance of being saved or salvaged for parts. The novel was taken off life support and thrown into a dark drawer. A kind of morgue for bad manuscripts. Every writer has one of those. Some of them are huge …
- Randy wasted no time mourning the loss of his first piece of fiction. Instead, he spent the following two years working on a different novel. The novel might have been different, but its end was not: it too got thrown in the same morgue for bad manuscripts. This time though, Randy learned three major problems that caused the novel’s death. I would tell you what those three problems were, but I didn’t get to that part yet. I’m a slow reader!
- Three months after the demise of the second novel, a serious thing happened: Randy’s agent died. I’m not going to make any jokes about that because I’m not good at dealing with death. I’ve seen people who are able to make someone’s passing away into a light-hearted event (all in good taste and in a way that helped those left behind). That’s not me though. I cry as soon as I hear someone died. I don’t even have to be close to them. Weird, I know.
- Back to Randy: he spent one and half years working on his third novel. He didn’t have an agent this time. Neither did he have the presentation skills to make a killer impression on the editor of a publishing house he was pitching to. Yet, somehow, that novel ended up getting published. Mission accomplished. Twelve years and many sleepless nights later, Randy fulfilled his dream: he became a published author. Congratulations! (Don’t do the math please, and tell me that I only talked about 5.75 years so far. I already know that! The remaining 6.25 years are not clearly talked about in the book. Call them the “mysterious years” if you will.)
Here are some short passages from Writing Fiction for Dummies that summarize Randy’s path to success.
“The novel […] appeared 12 years after he started writing. At last, he was an author. That novel, Transgression, went on to a win a Christy Award, and Randy went on to write several more award-winning novels. He became well-known enough that conferences began asking him to teach.
Fast-forward another nine years. Randy has taught hundreds of writers. He’s mentored a number of them to become authors. He’s seen his students hit the bestseller list. And he’s now seeing them as finalists for major awards.”
– From Writing Fiction for Dummies
I think Randy’s is a beautiful story. He worked hard for something that meant a lot to him, he got really good at it, and now he’s helping others reach their dreams also. Inspiring.