Thursday, October 3, 2013

Blue October

Life is about learning;
when you stop learning, you die.
~Tom Clancy

Oh, how I wish that Tom had checked out the latest edition of Encyclopedia Britannica yesterday.

Instead, he simply checked out…

and joined the great launch party in the sky.

He didn't leave us scribblers empty-handed, though.

Here are a few great tips I've gathered from Tom's time on the planet:

1) Get Bored

After finishing his English degree at Loyola, he worked in an insurance office. Tom found the job to be Boring with a capital B. But instead of looking for a new line of work, he began to dabble in fiction for fun.

2) Set a Goal

“I wanted to see my name on the cover of a book.”
Yeah, his first goal was pretty modest when you know the rest of the story.

3) Sometimes you’re gonna have to tick somebody off

In 1988, Wanda Clancy wryly recalled the days before her husband became a bestselling author. “He was writing at home every weekend. I told him he should go back to selling insurance — I've eaten those words a few times.”

4) Do your Research

Tom once said, “The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.” So, he always did his homework — interviewed military personnel and sifted through hundreds of books with “thrilling” titles like The World’s Missile Systems, and Guide to the Soviet Navy and Combat Fleets of the World. In fact, he was so thorough that he was once grilled by U.S. Navy Secretary John Lehman who wanted to know who had leaked all of the “secret” material. It’s no wonder that The Hunt for Red October was critically praised for its technical accuracy.

5) Work Hard

“You learn to write the same way you learn to play golf. You do it, and keep doing it until you get it right. A lot of people think something mystical happens to you, that maybe the muse kisses you on the ear. But writing isn't divinely inspired — it’s hard work.”

Amen, Brother.

6) Be Brave

“Fortune does favor the brave. In battle, you forgive a man anything except an unwillingness to take risks. Sometimes you have to put it on the line. What I did was take time away from how I earned my living. My wife gave me hell— (see above) — but she doesn't complain anymore."

Yeah, those “W” words — War and Writing — wimps need not apply.

7) Hold on to that Dream

“Nothing is as real as a dream. The world can change around you, but your dream will not. Responsibilities need not erase it. Duties need not obscure it. Because the dream is within you, no one can take it away.”

Tom Clancy lived the dream.

Seventeen of his novels were best-sellers…

Worldwide sales have topped 100 million.

Well done, Tom.

Well done.

PROMPT: Do all 7. Repeat as necessary.


  1. Good advice. Thanks Tom and thanks Barb.

    1. Thank YOU for stopping by! May this be your best October ever!