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All the way from the Emerald Isle!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers...Garth Brooks

I fell in love and married a man like Willy Vlautin. Last week, when we had a surprise-visit from this songwriter/novelist, the world stood still for seventy two minutes of class time, and I fell in love – all over again.

The soft spoken sexy southern drawl of Willy Vlautin mesmerised most of the ladies in the class. He sat calmly in his chair making selective eye contact with his silent audience as he shared secrets to his success. “Do what you like” was the first message he shared with us, because if you are not doing what you like, then it is just ‘work’.

Hailing from Reno, Nevada, Willy grew up being a huge fan reading novels from a very young age. He cited Raymond Carver as one of the Author’s whose work he would have admired over the years and loved how he sounded ‘like my weird drunk Uncle whispering stories in my ear’.

Willy is the songwriter for his band (just finished touring Europe) Richmond Fontaine. Over the years as his writing would ebb and flow, so would the success of the band. When he was depressed and writing a stack of bad stories, his band would suffer because of this. Just when things would get grim, he managed to write a great catchy song that kept the fans coming back for more.

In order to keep cash coming in and still have time to write, Willy let his writing become more important than financial gain. Having dipped his hand in several job entities (house painter, warehouse employee) he would sometimes get up at 5am to write for a few hours before going to work. Mornings are his favourite time to write when his head is clear and all the ideas flow faster. Weekends never seemed like a good time to attempt getting a lot done because he felt the need to be social (being in a band could do that to a guy) and let’s face it, not many of us want to sit tapping on the typewriter on a Friday evening at 6pm when it is happy hour everywhere!

So humble, Willy has a deeply personal connection to his work. It took him damn near fifteen years to send in his novel for consideration. He mentioned that meeting his agent was like ‘a gift from God’ and not only did she take his novel on board she ‘figured out how to sell it’.

Even after the success of all his novels, Willy remains humble and has an attractive modesty about how great he is. Admitting that he is very comfortable writing in his own world, as it makes him feel safe. He knows it and its characters ‘real well’.

Hating the faults and errors on the typewritten page, Willy purchased his first computer after finding a large sum of money out in the Nevada desert one night. Although it took him more than a year to stop looking over his shoulder in case the local mafia came looking for it, purchasing a computer changed the way he felt about his writing. He no longer had to be distracted by all the ‘mistakes’ on the page. This, I think, was the turning point for Willy himself. It is possible he obtained a glint of confidence in his own work. Just enough to make him fabulous.

And that my dear readers, is what he is.

Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,



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