Many authors influenced my writing style.
Jack London, Shirley Jackson, Rod Serling, Robert Collier, William Saroyan and Mark Twain, to name a few.
Over the years I’ve attracted rare signed books by and about most of them.
Recently I took the prize by attracting one of the most sought after (and expensive) items of all: a photograph hand signed by Twain himself in 1909.
You have to imagine how this feels.
I wrote about Twain influencing me in such early books as CyberWriting, which was one of my first books on Internet marketing. (1995, now out of print.)
I’ve recently been reading volume one of Twain’s newly released uncensored autobiography, which is a delight.
And I’m greatly enjoying Michael Sheldon’s new biography, Mark Twain: Man in White: The Grand Adventure of His Final Years, which reveals the marketing savvy of the great author. The book explains a lot, including the reason Twain started wearing his famous white suit. I’m loving it.
For me to finally have this actual photo, which was Twain’s favorite, and held by Twain, and hand signed by Twain to a friend of his, is huge. It’s inspiring. It reminds me of what great authors and memorable writing are all about.
Looking at it mentally transports me to a place where I am sitting beside Twain, chatting, smoking a cigar, and laughing at life. I’m mind melding with the legend.
You can do this, too.
Just pick a person you admire, read everything by and about them, and then imagine having a dialogue with them. It’s a type of mental mastermind.
In my book on P.T. Barnum, There’s A Customer Born Every Minute, I include an interview with the great showman (who knew Twain and almost coauthored a book with him).
Obviously I never met Barnum. But I imagined what I would ask him, looked through his books for the answers, and turned it all into a dialogue. It’s one of the most popular sections of that book. (And it was recreated in theatrical form in my first Nightingale-Conant audio program, The Power of Outrageous Marketing.)
Again, you can do this, too.
If you had the chance, who would you brainstorm with?
Who would you interview?
Who would you talk to?
PS – One of my ancient articles on what an aspiring writer or speaker can learn from Mark Twain is still online at https://www.mrfire.com/article-archives/ancient-articles/mark-twain-secrets.html (It’s an excerpt from my out of print book, CyberWriting.)