When I heard the news that Pat Conroy had died, my first thought was “Damn!” It was a selfish thought, the sudden realization that there would never be another book from the man. There wouldn’t be another story told with the kind of rolling, tumbling language Conroy used so well.
I’ve read all the books, but I won’t bore you with a comparative analysis or any book reports. I’ll just say that as much as I loved almost all of them, there are two that stand out for me.
The Prince of Tides is my favorite of Conroy’s books. The movie based on the book is excellent, but the book is a deeper, richer, more nuanced experience.
My other favorite is The Pat Conroy Cookbook, subtitled “Recipes and Stories of My Life.” I think this was the first book where Conroy moved from writing those wonderful novels to writing wonderful books on his life experience. There’s good reading and good eating to be had from this book.
Now for the advice, or, in this case, the observation. It comes from Pat Conroy’s own blog.
“Throughout my career I’ve lived in constant fear that I wouldn’t be good enough, that I’d have nothing to say, that I’d be laughed at, humiliated – and I’m old enough to know that fear will follow me to the very last word I’ll ever write.”
I think it’s that feeling the drives the great novelists and the solid professionals to take one more crack at the manuscript. It’s where great writing comes from.
Want more? Check out the complete list of Advice from the Masters posts
If you want even more writing advice from writers, check out Jon Winokur’s blog, “AdvicetoWriters.”
For More on Pat Conroy
From the New York Times: Pat Conroy, Author of ‘The Prince of Tides’ and ‘The Great Santini,’ Dies at 70
“Pat Conroy, whose tortured family life and the scenic marshlands of coastal South Carolina served as unending sources of inspiration for his fiction, notably the novels ‘The Great Santini,’ ‘The Lords of Discipline’ and ‘The Prince of Tides,’ died on Friday. He was 70.”
“Conroy was perhaps South Carolina’s most famous man of letters in this or any period of its history. His gushing, over-the-top prose introduced people ‘from off’ to the wonders of pluff mud, the great saltmarsh and the Carolina sea islands. He told stories of sprawling, dysfunctional families — flawed, wounded people — but managed to find the humor and joy in everything that was the South”
“Pat Conroy dies in the hometown that adopted the Marine ‘dependant.’ String of best-sellers and movies brings untold economic impact to Beaufort. They knew he had talent, but not that he would do so well.”