Home > friends, Personal Thoughts - It's Not Always a Mystery, Sisters in Crime, Writer's Thoughts, Writing > It’s Not Where You Start (It’s Where You Finish) by Debra H. Goldstein

It’s Not Where You Start (It’s Where You Finish) by Debra H. Goldstein

It’s Not Where You Start (It’s Where You Finish) by Debra H. Goldstein

Recently, I listened to Barbara Cook’s rendition of the Cy Coleman and Dorthy Field’s signature song “It’s Not Where You Start, It’s Where You Finish” from 1973’s Broadway show, Seesaw. Forty years after the song debuted, the words remain true.

Whether one is writing a novel, short story, or poem, the process is the same. “It’s not how you go, it’s how you land.” Writing requires coming up with an idea, getting it down on paper, rewriting, possibly tossing out one’s original thoughts, and writing the piece again and again until the words flow. It often is a solitary process, but the sisterhood of writers have the ability to inspire and help each other.

The reality is “If you’re going to last, you can’t make it fast,…Nobody starts a winner, give me a slow beginner.” At Malice Domestic, I had the privilege of riding an elevator with Carolyn Hart. I’m a pretty confident person, but as the elevator went up, I stumbled over my words telling “Ms. Hart” how much I enjoy her books. During the conference, where she was honored with the Amelia Award, I heard how her writing career didn’t take off. Her first few books either were not published or failed to sell well, but she kept writing. When she became an overnight success, it had been a long night. Our paths crossed a number of times during the conference and at the Sisters in Crime breakfast. Ironically, we were in the elevator together again leaving the conference. This time, I congratulated “Carolyn” on her award and we actually laughed about spending the conference in the elevator.

Thinking back on the difference in my behavior during our elevator rides, I realize that the change in my attitude came from being impressed with her writing abilities and with her persistence and willingness to help other writers. Even during the hour interview tied to her award at Malice, she took the time to give a new writer a shout-out. She was the only one to do so. It takes a big person to share one’s limelight with others. Her work ethic and her generosity illustrate the premise that “Your final return will not diminish/And you can be the cream of the crop/It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish/And you’re gonna finish on top.”

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  1. June 10, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    Debra, Carolyn is so thrilled by your post! We were e-mailing back and forth this morning. When I met Carolyn at Bouchercon, she didn’t know me from a hole in the ground and immediately offered to give me a cover quote for DEAD AIR (the first in a mystery series I was writing for Penguin.) They used her quote on the front cover and on the other two books in the series, so I was very happy.

  2. June 10, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    Nobody, nobody, nobody is more generous and helpful to other writers than Carolyn Hart. That’s why she was awarded an Amelia, and she darn well deserved it.

    • June 10, 2013 at 10:17 pm

      Agree wholeheartedly! I have been most impressed by the consistent tenor of the comments I have been receiving on and offline.

  3. June 10, 2013 at 9:41 am

    Debra, I can totally relate! I met Carolyn Hart at my very first Malice, and she was so warm and welcoming. She’s been an inspiration (and a great friend to me) ever since.

    • June 10, 2013 at 4:20 pm

      Mary – thank you for taking the time to leave a comment and for reposting Carolyn’s link to my blog. She sent me a lovely e-mail this morning and then, thirty minutes later, blew me away by linking to the blog from her Facebook page. She truly is a class act.

  4. June 9, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    HI Debra, An inspiring post! I have bookmarked it and will refer to it often. Thanks for sharing your elevator experience. 🙂

  5. June 9, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    Debra, I couldn’t agree more about Carolyn’s generosity. I’m the writer Carolyn was kind enough to mention during her speech. Needless to say, I was dumbfounded–and thrilled. I find that many crime writers are incredibly generous and supportive. It’s a privilege to be part of that community.

    • June 9, 2013 at 7:00 pm

      A ditto shout out to you, Terry. You’ve been most gracious helping guppies and others in your own right. It is exciting what is happening with your writing now! I’d love it if you would post for me in the future :).

  6. June 9, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    Indeed, Carolyn Hart is a class act. I will never forget her kindness and generosity to me, either, Kaye. I’m a huge fan of her work, particularly the Bailey Ruth Raeburn series. And I will always be a huge fan of the lady herself.

  7. June 7, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    I agree with Kaye. Carolyn is a class act. She’s also a fine writer. I think LETTERS FROM HOME was one of her best books.

    • June 9, 2013 at 9:09 am

      Thanks for stopping by….Carolyn truly is a class act.

  8. June 7, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    Carolyn Hart is a class act, through and through. She gave this unknown, unpublished writer a bit of kind attention years ago and I’ll never forget it. I’m sure she has forgotten it, since she does stuff like this all the time!

    • June 9, 2013 at 9:10 am

      Kaye, I doubt she knows how many people she has touched over the years. Same as you and the other members of SinC.

      • June 9, 2013 at 10:40 am

        That’s too sweet, Debra! I think mystery writers are a good group for paying it forward.

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