Thursday, August 5, 2010

Inspirational Story

My biographer friend Robin shared with me this wonderful story, drawn from Debby Applegate's opening remarks at the recent BIO (Biographers International Organization)conference, held in Boston in May.

Applegate, author of The Most Famous Man in America, a biography of Henry Ward Beecher, told her audience how she submitted the first two chapters of her contracted biography to her editor, only to meet with stunned silence in the face of their appalling awfulness. She confesses that she had absolutely no idea how to craft a compelling story out of her mountains of research. When she asked her editor for a clue on how to proceed, the editor replied, "I don't know what to tell you." Two months later, her contract was summarily cancelled.

Undaunted, "bloody but unbowed," Debby went out and did whatever she could do to learn her craft, reading everything she could find not only on writing biography, but on writing fiction, as well. She started all over again, with the goal of writing a biography that had a plot, strong characters the reader could care about, and a powerful emotional connection with the reader.

The book was published.

It won the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 2007.

Here's the link to a video of her talk; the discussion of her book project begins at around 5:00:

1 comment:

  1. Debby Applegate’s story is inspirational, especially to those individuals who so want to be published. It’s her determination and of course the love of writing, which is a part of hopeful writers, which cradled her desire to succeed in what she so wanted to be apart of in the literary industry. I’m so glad she’s shared her success story, as I related to it. My first book is entitled “Mommy’s Writings: Mommy, would you like a sandwich?” It will be in the Marketplace by year-end 2010 and its genre is Christian biography whose story prayerfully inspires the love of God. I’m so grateful to our heavenly Father who loves his creation of whom we are his own. For me, writing is God’s gracious gift. I keep such love and inspiration in mind, as I accept: “If you have an open mind, you never know where God is going to lead you.” Yes, being writers we are indeed blessed.

    Suzanne McMillen-Fallon, Published Author, would you like a sandwich?