James A. Michener: “I’m an excellent rewriter.”

“I think the crucial thing in the writing career is to find what you want to do and how you fit in. What somebody else does is of no concern whatever except as an interesting variation.” – James A. Michener
James A. Michener Writing Career Quote

James A. Michener may just be my hero when it comes to beginning a career. Why? His first book came out when he was 40.

“Sitting there in the darkness, illuminated only by the flickering lamplight, I visualized the aviation scenes in which I had participated, the landing beaches I’d seen, the remote outposts, the exquisite islands with bending palms, and especially the valiant people I’d known: the French planters, the Australian coast watchers, the Navy nurses, the Tonkinese laborers, the ordinary sailors and soldiers who were doing the work, and the primitive natives to whose jungle fastnesses I had traveled.”

This was Michener while on assignment in the Pacific during WWII. These notes led to his first novel Tales of the South Pacific. It won the Pulitzer, became a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical as South Pacific, and was turned into a movie of the same name. Very nice for a first novel.James A. Michener I'm a ReWriter Quote

Michener and I are alike in a number of ways. He went to college for English and History. I went for History and Education. And then there is this  quote; “I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.”

I haven’t researched exactly what he meant by that, but if he’s like me he gets the idea down then grows the piece into a behemoth through his research, and that is where Michener and I are a lot alike.

I’ve seen video of Michener and that is what led me to choose him for this article. Michener, in regards to writing, is similar to how I approach my writing. He did a ton of research and was into details. You learned from a Michener read.

Some people don’t like going for the realism, or they don’t want to go through the trouble of finding out what street a person would travel in a city. They might say, they took a left or make up a name. Details give credibility. Details give James A. Michener Love of Writing Quotepeople a way to become connected to a work. Details create fans who want to travel the path a favorite character traveled.

I doubt I will ever write books that are 800 or 1000 pages long. I’m not counting it out, but I have the attention problems of creativity and concussion combined. I’m working on two stories at the same time right now, with three others marinating until I get back to them to do the next drafts. Hopefully one is not far away from submission time.

Married three times, his third wife, in a way, helped inspire one of Michener’s big successes, Sayonara in 1954. His wife, Mari Yoriko Sabusawa was an American but she and her Japanese parents suffered the internment camps in America in WWII. The two married in 1955 and remained together until her death in 1994.

In 1997, Michener chose to stop his daily dialysis in fighting his terminal kidney disease. His wife was gone, and he had accomplished all he wanted to do. He left the copyrights to his works to his alma mater.

This final quote says something a great number of people should consider.

 James A. Michener Culture Quote

Part of #BeWoW and Writer’s Quote Wednesday. Click HERE for more Quotes on SilverThreading.com hosted by Colleen Chesebro. See the comments here for any links to more #BeWoW articles and check out the hashtag on Twitter to ReTweet those positive posts that apply to the #BeWoW message of positivity sharing.

Ronovan Hester is an author, with a debut historical adventure novel Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling due out in December of 2015. He shares his life as an amnesiac and Chronic Pain sufferer through his blog RonovanWrites.WordPress.com. His love of writing, authors and community through his online world has led to a growing Weekly Haiku Challenge, Weekly Fiction Prompt Challenge, and the creation of a site dedicated to book reviews, interviews and author resources known as LitWorldInterviews.com.

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14 thoughts on “James A. Michener: “I’m an excellent rewriter.”

  1. Reblogged this on mira prabhu and commented:
    “I think the crucial thing in the writing career is to find what you want to do and how you fit in. What somebody else does is of no concern whatever except as an interesting variation.” – James A. Michener

    Thank you for this interesting post, Ronovan Hester!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! I have always loved Michener too! This quote goes along with what I told you earlier. You have it all inside you. Let it out in your own way! ❤ Great quote!!! ❤


    • I didn’t know his quotes until I wrote the article, but apparently I’ve been following his advice. I write and whatever it ends up being will find where it needs to land. I don’t know that I am a 100% anything type of writer. I just write and let it sort itself out later.


  3. I just LOVE the final quote, “If you rejects the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you better stay at home.”

    Personally, I am passionate about immersing myself in the huge variety of cultures, cuisines and languages that we find on our diverse planet. I am so fortunate to have visited around eighty countries in my life, and I shall never tire of travelling. It is always interesting to observe the similarities that exist in pairs of cultures who have many among them who believe that they are complete opposites.

    My dream is that we make the most of those similarities to eliminate conflict, and that we celebrate the diversity.


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