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 anything else.
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 invention.
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.
Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.