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26 February 2010 20 Comments

Quick, who wrote the novel Typee?

Oh, please leave a comment if you knew this right off.

Quickly, who wrote Omoo? Leave a comment if you knew this as well.

Now quickly, who wrote Moby Dick? Ah, sigh, Herman Melville.

Did you know he wrote the other two as well? Before he wrote Moby Dick, Melville was well known at the time for writing pop fiction (adventure stories to be exact). Moby Dick was completely different from anything he’d ever written before. When the book hit the public’s eye, there was outrage. Critics trashed it. One newspaper went so far as to print a headline that he’d gone mad. Family members urged him to have a doctor check him out for possible insanity!

Instead of caving in and writing what the public demanded, Melville refused. He wrote to his father-in-law during the creation of Moby Dick, telling him that everything else he had written in the past was tied to purse strings. He was finally at a place in life where he could write not for market success, but for the love of it, and so he wrote Moby Dick from his heart and soul.

Not until some thirty years after his death, and seventy years after Moby Dick was published was Melville’s brilliant novel regarded as a masterpiece.

I know you’ve heard similar stories, but I think it’s important to remind ourselves, in this day of “author branding” (a relatively new concept in the past ten years), that we need to write from the heart. In fact, I am writing this today, not for you, but for myself as a reminder that I must write what I love. If my words happen to strike a chord with you, then welcome to my world.

My “brand” would have to be “writer of sensuous Victorian Romance”. However, I still feel driven to one day write the WWII love story that prowls the interior of my soul. If branding rules it out, it will be written under a pen name, I don’t care, just as long as I can write to my heart’s content. Maybe I’ll name it Moby Dick. No? OK.

Have a great day.


  • Eliza Knight said:

    Good morning Kathleen! I wholeheartedly believe in writing what you love! And if author branding means you have to write to your heart’s content as several different “people” so be it, at least you are being true to yourself 🙂

    I love your writing! You know I do 🙂 One day, I’ll be at the store buying up every copy of your books I can find, and loudly bragging to anyone who will listen that I know you, and that you are fabulous!!!!

    Hugs, Eliza

  • Lori Brighton said:

    I so needed this post today! What a great story. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Kathleen said:

    Gosh, thanks to both of you! Eliza, I am so glad you believe in me and my writing, it keeps me going! And Lori, I feel like I have made another good friend. I will never forget that you were my first guest…I didn’t realize how special that was until I saw your pic and book cover posted.

  • Tess said:

    Great post, Kathleen!! I did not know that about Melville.

    I couldn’t write something for the market if I tried. Everything I put down has to be from my heart…it’s just the way it is! LOL.

    And in every word you write, I see your heart!

  • Joan said:

    Kathleen, this is one of the reasons why I enjoy your writing so much. Each time I read what you have written a little more of your heart is revealed–even that impish little tongue-in-cheek attitude you sometimes get.

    I have never been a fan of historical romance fiction, but I can honestly say that I’ve looked forward to each and everything I’ve read that came from you. Be true to yourself. You can never go wrong!

  • kathleen (author) said:

    Writing from the heart, from the soul is where our true self emerges. Someone recently told me to jump on the YA (young adult) bandwagon and I felt an immediate clench in my heart. Wow…it was a strong physical reaction. Intuition is always 10% correct, we just have to learn how to listen to it. Oh, Intuition comes from the heart.

  • kathleen (author) said:

    oops, intuition is always 100% correct, not 10%…I need a coffee break, it’s 3 pm here. I am going to go to the kitchen and make “nonnenfurzle”.

  • Hans said:

    Hello Kathleen,

    would you care to explain what a ‘nonnenfurzle’ is?

  • kathleen (author) said:

    Oh, aren’t you cute. A nonnenfurzle is about the size of those little donut holes you’ve seen. Made with yogurt, rum, eggs, sugar, flour, lemon zest and baking powder, and then fried in hot oil (no transfats) and dusted with powdered sugar. Is that what you wanted to know?

    Didn’t think so.

    The term is German and means “little nun’s farts”. Legend had it that a German Bishop visited an Abby and was served these light, air delicacies at the appointed coffee hour (4 pm sharp in Germany). He said, “Oh, nonnenfurzle,” and reached for the biggest one. “I’ll take Mother Superior’s,” he said.

  • Paisley Kirkpatrick said:

    I so agree with you Kathleen. I do write from my heart in a genre that is not easily sold – American west. But it comes from my heart. I live in the 1849 gold rush area and that is where my stories are based. I have living history around me and that makes writing so exciting for me. If I never get published, I’ve at least had a great ride.

  • kathleen (author) said:

    I love Americana. I am polishing one right now, a sequel to another. I call my time period the Victorian Era, but I don’t confine it to England. I read there is one agent looking for a great western, what time period I don’t know. Maybe that’s the next thing to come back around. Don’t quit writing!

  • SuzySims said:

    I am working on a cook book for my kids and family. Recipes we love,family heirlooms, and ones I’ve created. I love cooking, and I love my family, so a cookbook it is 🙂

  • kathleen (author) said:

    Writing cookbooks can be interesting. My first flash of an idea while reading your post Suzy is a “family” cookbook with real family pics and then old pictures of families, pioneers, etc., since you have family recipes and heirloom recipes. Tucked in between the recipes would be herbal tonics, etc., that they used way back when that have proven to be valid. People are really looking for natural foods, herbal healing foods, etc.

  • Gloria Erickson said:

    I have always considered you to be the consummate sttory teller. Through the years I have listened to you recount episodes in your life which I have heard many times and yet each time your expert story telling made me laugh or cry at exactly the same point I laughed or cried the last time I heard it. Because you speak/write from the heart you are able to touch my heart each time.

    I look forward to the publishing of your books. They are full of drama, laughter, and insights into life’s quirks. I feel others will enjoy them as much as I do.

  • kathleen (author) said:

    Gloria, how nice. I think I’ll keep this blog around for awhile to keep my back up on those gray days (every writer has them)…gotta keep the thoughts focused on intention!

  • Jackie said:

    This is wonderful.

    Your stories grab my attention quickly and then it’s too late – I must know all.

    I anticipate much more – intuition, heart and writing what YOU love.

  • Allison Chase said:

    Kathleen, I have that same clenching reaction when I think about writing a contemporary. And I read a variety of contemporaries so it isn’t that I don’t like them – I do! But when it comes to writing, the stories of my heart are always historical.

  • kathleen (author) said:

    I think that clenching is our heart talking to us. Like Jackie said, intuition, heart and writing what you love. Someone out there is going to love it too. I feel as though historicals will always have a special place in the romance genre.

  • Zsanett said:

    I love you and your stories too.

  • kathleen (author) said:

    Oh, and Zsani, you are the sweetest daughter-in-law a person could want. Warms my heart that you read my blog!

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