Victor O'Reilly's avatar image.



Anonymous profile image
  • What's your advice for the writer who dreams of one day being on the NY Times best seller list?

    You've achieved what many writers dream about, what keeps you going when you feel burned out?

    Victor O'Reilly's avatar image.

    Hi Sharon

    I particularly like questions which are difficult to answer. They are vastly stimulating--and excellent exercise for the brain. This is such a one (or two).

    Perhaps the easiest way to answer your question will be to describe my own ambitions--and and mindset.

    I never dreamt I would reach the lofty heights of the NYT Best Seller List. Instead, my ambition was to become a thoroughly entertaining writer who could earn enough to make a modest living. I was quite well aware that the odds were against me nonetheless. I had read enough about writers--and knew enough--to realize that most people never finish the book they start--let alone get it published. Nonetheless, despite the fact that I was giving up a rather successful business career, I just felt compelled to proceed. I was driven by a sense that writing was what I should be doing virtually regardless of risk and consequences. It was my calling.

    I was more attracted by the writing itself--the actual process--than anything else. It was an imperative as far as I was concerned--and it still is. In fact, writing has become more and more important to me over the decades. It is a truly wondrous and joyous occupation--and immensely satisfying. It is also extremely difficult to do well--which is one of the main reasons it is so enjoyable. Overcoming a challenge always is--and the challenges of writing are endless. Converting one's thoughts into the written word doesn't seem that it should be that difficult--but the reality is otherwise. Then, of course, there is the not so minor matter of having interesting thoughts in the first place--and to convey them clearly and entertainingly. Technical clarity isn't enough in itself. The result has to be readable--and to keep the reader going.

    We live in an instant satisfaction world--but I knew perfectly well from the start that it was going to take me a long time to learn to write adequately--let alone really well. Here, I am not talking months, but years (if not decades). Accordingly, I took the long view from the beginning. To that end, I was quite prepared to live simply--and I had to. Bear in mind, I wasn't after fame and fortune. My goal was to write (and, somehow, survive). Virtually everything else was secondary--and still is.

    I was well served by being a voracious reader. I have read two or three books a week from the age of about seven--and I am 71 now. Do the math. You can learn an immense amount from other authors--and reading is the best way to do it. Talking to writers helps--but reading them is better. Writers, in my experience, can be fascinating people, but they are at their best when they write. Writing is a distillation of years of experience.

    I had the advantage of being brought up in a creative environment. My mother was both a writer and a painter--and members of the family and many friends were closely involved with the theater. I also had a difficult and stressful upbringing which, strangely enough, has worked to my advantage. It motivated me to escape into books--and into an endless world of stories. I thought 'story'from an early age--and still evaluate just about everything as to whether I can use it in a book, or in some other writing.

    I'm really not the right person to ask about becoming a Best Selling Author because my commitment has been to the writing rather than fame or fortune. I give thanks every day that I chose this route.

    Writing, as such, never makes me feel burned out. On the contrary, it is what invigorates me. No matter what my mood when I start to write, I am virtually always cheered when I get going.

    I do feel burned out, at times, for other reasons. Real life is full of minor frustrations, pitfalls, violence, betrayals, disasters, and stress. Just as well--or what would we writers have to write about! Fortunately, there is also much kindness in the world--and romance is not in short supply.

    Either way, it is all material.

    What keeps me going is my absolute faith--and joy--in the process of writing. Add in a wide variety of experiences, a fairly active sex life, and a fairly consistent supply of wine--and it adds up to an interesting and adventurous life.

    I haven't given up adventuring--and have no plans to retire.

    Thank you.