Sunday, February 17, 2013

Michael Connelly: What I Learned From Meeting Him

This past weekend I had the opportunity to fly out to Los Angeles and meet the author Michael Connelly. I am part of Sony eReader VIP book club that allowed me this amazing opportunity. If you already follow me on Twitter (@coffeechugbooks) or on Instagram (coffeechug) then you have seen more photos than you probably care to view. This post will not be about the trip as that will be another post soon. Instead I want to get down what I took away from listening to Michael Connelly speak.

I am trying to write from memory without going back to Twitter or Facebook. If you want to see everything that he shared you can check out hashtag #sonyreader to back read.

As a teacher what I took away most was that with anything in life you have to have a passion for what you do. Connelly has a passion for his writing and in particular his character Harry Bosch. Listening to him talk I gained the sense that Harry Bosch is as real and important in his life as any real person. I don't say that like he is crazy or off the beaten path, but as he was written about Harry in real time for 20 years it has played a huge role for him. When I teach and I coach I share these same ideas. The idea that you have to find your passion and once you find it you have to go after it. Connelly spent his life writing from not publishing his first two books that even his mother has not read to improve his craft. As a teacher I bust my butt everyday to improve and learn to become better in my field. This message will once again go back to my students and my players. If you are good at something, then you have to put time into your passion to get better. Does this sound like Gladwell and his book Outliers?

Another thing I really enjoyed was all the back stories to events in the book. When I read crime fiction I don't go reading them for deep insight. I read them to escape major thinking and to escape life. Connelly shared many things about the details in the book that made me even more impressed with what I read. Whether it was the backstory of a jazz player and how that connected to plots in the story to planting seeds for future stories I found that I gave fiction writers a deeper sense of appreciation after this chat.

Next was finding what works for you. Connelly writes on a laptop, not paper. He writes with the light blocked from the room with no clocks available and the same light shining over his right shoulder that he has used for years. Some may find his weird, but I don't. I love this. We all have our own systems of operation. I have a routine for drinking coffee in the morning before beginning my 5 am training workouts. It was great that he shared this. It is important that we find out what works for us. I know I am an introvert. I can only handle so much people time before I must enter the nerd cave and be left to my nerdiness with no people. It recharges me to be away from human beings. My son is this way. My daughter is not and feeds off people. I listened to another author speak a few weeks back and he uses paper and takes notes in a blackbook. Completely different Connelly and that is okay.

Three more short things that stood out to me that I shard on Twitter

Cliches are cliches because there is a sense of truth.

John Greens mom likes Harry Bosch 

it is always time to write.

This line about cliches stood out to me. I was not expecting it and when he said it the word stuck. It is true, but I never gave it much thought. I will be coming back to this at some point in the future because it is messing with my brain, but for now I will just share it.

John Green is my hero. He is fantastic or should I say AWESOMESAUCE! To know his mother likes Connelly and that he knows John Green just made him all the more cooler. Plus he played poker on Castle, the tv show. 

The last line connects to earlier ideas, but he said there is always time to write. This goes back to the idea I always share with my students and players. Don't make excuses. That is easy to do. Rather find the time. If you reallly want something bad enough you won't make excuses. IT was great to hear that from someone successfully like Connelly.

This was a wonderful opportunity. I would have liked to sit around with a cup of coffee and just talk more, but I cannot be greedy. I thank Sony for the opportunity and would gladly love another one or something similar(not that I am greedy or anything). 

I will share pictures and more thoughts soon. It is now time to enjoy people watching at the airport while I wait to fly home.
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