Lawrence Block, a writer both prolific and successful

When an intelligent but smart-alecky High School junior got his English composition assignment in a 1943 Buffalo High School, he decided to treat it like the intelligent but smart-alecky kid he was. He would make some fun of it.

The assignment was to write about his own career possibilities. He wrote about all of us all of the different things he had been thinking about becoming as an adult since he was 4 years old. He ended the essay with what he thought what is a humorous line. “On rereading this composition, one thing becomes very clear to me—I can never be a writer.”

His teacher, Miss Jepson, did not find that line hey humorous has he thought it might be. She wrote in the margin: “I’m not so sure about that!” 

For the student, Lawrence block, that changed everything.

“Before that, I’d never for a moment considered a career as a writer,” he says, “but from that moment on I never considered anything else.” Source: My First Thriller: Lawrence Block ‹ CrimeReads

After that, Block says he began to take his writing seriously and began to think that maybe he could be a professional writer after all.

Block went off to college and while there submitted poems and stories to numerous Publications without much success. During one of the summers, however, he managed to gain an internship had a literary agency. While there, he sold his first short story, and it happened to be to a magazine that was edited by the head of the agency.

Block return to college and became the editor of the campus newspaper, but he was dissatisfied with where he was. He dropped out of college for good and return to New York where he began pumping out soft-porn novels for just about anyone who would take them. He learned then how to write quickly and how to formulate a plot. It was good training that he has used during his lifetime of writing.

And what a lifetime it has been. Block has produced dozens of novels and scores of short stories and his nom de plumes are almost too numerous to count. As he says on the biography page of his website:

Because one name is never enough, LB has also published under pseudonyms including Jill Emerson, John Warren Wells, Lesley Evans, and Anne Campbell Clarke.Source: About | Lawrence Block

He has written numerous detective and mystery series with delightful and well-formed continuing characters. In addition, he has conducted hundreds of writing seminars where he has helped thousands of people understand the process of writing.

Block has won Anthony, Edgar, and Shamus, Gold Dagger awards from various writers associations, and he was named a Grandmaster in 1994 by the Mystery Writers of America.

In addition to all of this, block Wright’s columns and books four Riders themselves. Many years ago when I got interested in writing fiction oh, I picked up a copy of his book Spider, Spin a Web: A Handbook for Fiction Writers. It still occupies a place on my bookshelf. 

Outside of writing of his own, Block has put together several anthologies of short stories by others. I am reading through one of them now. Its title is the darkling Halls of ivy. Block says this about it on his website:

. . . its stories all having to do with the world of higher education. (Their other common denominator is their excellence.) As the book was coming together, we explored ways to market it to college and university bookstores—and that looked promising, until Covid came along and all those bookstores closed up shop, along with the colleges and universities that spawned them.

Still, the book got good reviews and generated strong word of mouth, and had no trouble finding an audience. The Subterranean Press limited edition sold out in a hurry, but the book continues to move briskly in ebook, paperback, and hardcover editions. 

The two words you can safely apply to Lawrence Block are prolific and successful.

 

 

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About Jim Stovall

Jim Stovall, (JPROF.com) a retired journalism prof, is now a novelist, self-publisher, watercolorist, gardener, woodworker, and beekeeper -- among other things. Subscribe to his weekly newsletter at http://www.jprof.com .
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