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"You've got to be a little crazy to be a great author; the trouble with me is that I'm not crazy enough," Richard Halliburton, author of "The Royal Road to Romance" who numbers swimming the Hellespont and crossing the Alps by elephant among his exploits, said in an interview Saturday.
Between frequent pauses to autograph copies of his latest work, "The Book of Marvels", in a meek off the crowded main floor of Jordan Marsh's Halliburton amplified his statement. "You don't have to be so crazy you throw things. But I don't even drink. Perhaps it's a result of my four years at Princeton."
Writing Like a Baseball Diamond
Likening the writing game to a baseball diamond, Halliburton said, "To get to first base, you must have the desire to write. And to get on second, you must have something to write about."
He paused here to say that many men from conservative backgrounds follow the well-blazed trail from Exeter to Harvard, or Andover to Yale, and leave college with very little to write about. "You have to undergo powerful emotional and physical experiences before you can write effectively."
"To get to third base," Halliburton resumed, "you have to apply yourself: give up parties and movies. Learn to go off and work on a mountain top, preferably an uncomfortable one.
"To take the last step, and the hardest one, you have to have a certain insanity born in you. Perhaps 'genius' is a better word. It's a certain inspirational spark.
"And when you've gotten to home plate, you'll find thousands of others who have gotten just as far. If you sell 3,000 copies of your first book, you're doing well. My first manuscript was turned down by eight publishers, quite justly too, and didn't sell half that amount. There is no set formula for success."
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