In the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, Bob Beamon was a long jumper for the United States. After scratching on his first two attempts, Bob’s third attempt broke the world record by TWENTY-ONE AND THREE-QUARTERS INCHES!! Understand, when the world record in the long jump is normally broken, it is broken by maybe an inch or two. Bob broke it by almost TWO FEET, and to make it even more impressive, he did it in all capital letters. Even Bob couldn’t come close to that feat again. In fact it was 1991, almost twenty-three years later, before someone broke his record.
In 1973, Secretariat had won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. He was the favorite to win the Belmont Stakes and to be the first Triple Crown winner in twenty-five years. When the race was done, Secretariat had won the race by thirty-one lengths and beat the old track record by two seconds. Neither of those records has yet been broken.
It always amazes me when someone (or a horse) can pull off a one-time miracle performance—not that Bob wasn’t a good athlete and Secretariat wasn’t a good horse, but these feats went far beyond what anyone had expected them to do. In writing, maybe Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird might fit into the miracle category, but when someone writes one book that does well and doesn’t write another, I put that in a different category. Hemmingway said in Green Hills of Africa that some writers get a few accolades and become impotent with their writing because they believe everything they write must be a masterpiece, so they write nothing. Maybe J.K. Rowling would come close to Beamon and Secretariat. She did outstanding with the Harry Potter series and has not been able to duplicate it with any of her books since then.
Every time I start a book, I hope it will be the book that will catch fire and grab the imagination of readers and spread like ebola through the reading community; the Bob Beamon book that will leap way beyond at least anything I’ve ever written before; my Secretariat story that leaves everything before it in the dust. My new book, In The Lake, is a good mystery. I enjoyed writing it. I like the characters, and it’s a good story with a surprise ending. It’s well worth the read, but I’m not sure it’s in the miracle category. I’m working on a book now—I’m calling it The Almond People—that is different from anything I’ve done before. Sometimes I’ll think: This is the book. This is the one Bob would be proud of, Secretariat, too. But even if it isn’t—and it probably isn’t—I’ll keep writing, because there are stories bouncing around in my head that need to be put on paper. If I don’t get them out, who knows what damage they’ll do in there? Not that they haven’t done quite a bit already.
The paperback for my new book In The Lake is for sale at the Wings ePress website. You can go to the Wings website and read an excerpt at this link, Wings ePress. The ebook will be out later at Barnes and Noble, Smashwords and Amazon. Amazon will also be selling the paperback, but it will be cheaper through Wings.