“I can fix a bad page. I can’t fix a blank page.”
Nora Roberts is my hero. If you haven’t heard of her, we can’t be friends. Casual acquaintances? Maybe.
Nora Roberts is the pen name of one of the most prolific authors to exist, Eleanor Marie Robertson (bio). She writes so many books that her publisher had her take on a second pen name, J. D. Robb. As Nora, she started out writing category romances. It didn’t take long for her to branch out into writing trilogies and longer standalone books. Later, as J. D. Robb, she started a futuristic romance/crime series that is currently on its 45th book, with the 46th expected out next year. Over 40 novels, under one pen name! She has written more than 200 altogether.
Her books have redefined the genre of romance since she was first published in the 1980’s. Unlike the romances of the time, hers were less about heaving bosoms, the war between the sexes, and poor little nobody lands the millionaire. She wrote about the interplay between two people meeting each other and falling in love. She helped steer romance away from those awful themes of power imbalances and toward rich and loving relationships.
She calls her first novels “dreadful.” If, like the Noraholics, you happen to read her entire backlist, you can see that she continually improved. Even at the beginning, you could see glimpses of her talent and the first hints of her best-selling style.
I remember reading Nora’s books when I was too young to know what they were about. I would sit in my grandma’s living room and listen to her getting excited about the season’s “new Nora.” My mother would make sure she was first on the list to borrow it. Mawmaw would hand it over to her and wait impatiently for Mama to finish so they could exclaim over it together.
I’d sneak and read the book after Mama fell asleep. I wasn’t really supposed to read “those” kinds of books yet, but Nora’s books were irresistible to me. It felt more like meeting people who were going to be great friends rather than reading a book.
Once I was a little older and the digital age had begun, I started to follow Nora a little better. My mother introduced me to J. D. Robb. I wasn’t interested at first. The covers were stark and they looked like they would be some of those terrible books with unhappy endings. Blech.
Well, I read the first one, Naked in Death, and that was it. I was hooked. With Nora’s insane publishing schedule, now I could read FIVE “new Noras” every year. FIVE, y’all. To put that into perspective, most authors publish ONCE a year, if that often. She puts out FIVE times as many as everybody else.
Over the years, I’ve read interviews and articles in between books and collected some of her pithy quotes. Here is my top 4 list of life lessons from Nora Roberts.
“I would hope that my writing’s cleaner than it was when I started.
– Nora Roberts
#4 – Keep learning and improving. I don’t think Nora could have had the career she has if she hadn’t kept polishing her writing and refining her craft. There’s a big difference between her first book Irish Thoroughbred her work in the last five years. She’s never gotten complacent – there’s a reason she’s been on the NY Times bestseller list for nearly 20 years straight.
“I don’t think you can write – at least not well – if you don’t love stories, love the written word.”
– Nora Roberts
#3 – Read, read, read. You need to read for so many reasons. Read in your genre to stay relevant. Read eclectically to inform your writing. Read to get the fuel for the creative fire within. Read just because you want to.
“You don’t find time to write. You make time.”
– Nora Roberts
#2 – Make the time to write. I’ll admit, like many people, I whine about how much time I don’t have. My dream is to be a successful full-time author, but I never started writing seriously. I have half a novel, half a short story, and couple dozen blog posts to my credit, and that’s about it. But, but, but — I don’t have tiiiiime to write!!
Yeah, I know. I want to win the lottery, too, but I don’t buy the tickets. Guess how well that’s going to work out. About the same as my writing career went until this year.
Since I’ve committed to writing every day, even if I can only do it for ten minutes, I’ve gotten way more accomplished. I’m hard at work on a nonfiction book and have started to revamp my first novel.
“If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.”
#1 – Keep going after what you want. I thought this quote was really cool the first time I read it. It took me a while to internalize it, though. I kind of paid lip service to the idea, but went along with what I thought I was supposed to do instead of wanted to do. Living this quote is taking all the courage I have, and then some.
With these words to help push me along, I am committed to following the path to my dream of becoming a successful full-time author. Follow along with me to see how it goes!
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