“I wanted to see my name on the cover of a book. If you’re name is in the Library of
Congress, you’re immortal.”
“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.”
“The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.”
Yes, he had 17 #1 New York Times best sellers, sold some 100 million books, and is widely credited with singlehandedly launching the military espionage techno-thriller genre with his megahit, The Hunt for Red October, but at heart, Tom Clancy was an old-fashioned storyteller who knew how to spin a good yarn. He was also a workaholic who was always writing, pondering, and creating.
As one of his fans and colleagues, Penguin Group (USA)’s executive David Shanks, summed up Tom’s career, “He was a consummate author, creating the modern-day thriller, and was one of the most visionary storytellers of our time. I will miss him dearly and he will be missed by tens of millions of readers worldwide.” What better tribute could a writer have than to be called a “consummate author,” a “visionary storyteller,” and someone who will be missed by millions of readers?
While he may have started out as an insurance salesman, Tom dreamed of becoming a writer and worked on his debut novel, The Hunt for Red October, while holding down his day job. When he submitted his draft to Deborah Grosvenor, acquisitions editor at the Naval Institute Press, she recalled in an Algonkian interview, “I knew immediately that Clancy was a storyteller, and had a strong, assured voice, a sense of humor, and a fast-moving, intricate plot. His mastery of technology was amazing.
“But the story was bogged down by too much technological description and explanation, and the multiple, intertwined fast-moving time lines and scenes were occasionally confusing. I raised these issues with Clancy, and made suggestions where to cut, and suggested that he put in sub-heads indicating the time and date of the scenes. He agreed to revise and a few months later sent in a greatly improved, much tighter manuscript at least 100 pages shorter.”
Tom worked hard on getting things right in that first novel and kept on doing it. His advice for aspiring writers: “I tell them 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.” Wise words from a master storyteller. Write on.