“In order to become even sort of good at it, you have to be willing to be bad at it for a long time”
—David Owen in The New Yorker (March 7, 2016)
I came across the above quote as I was getting ready to revise the 2005 edition of this book. The “it” that Mr. Owen is talking about is playing bridge, but he might as well have been talking about writing a crime novel, another game with a steep learning curve. Almost everyone’s first efforts stink.
This discovery was particularly painful for me. I’d always gotten straight As in English, and I’d read a million crime novels, so it was easy to underestimate the task at hand. How hard could it be? After all, I wasn’t trying to write great literature, just a gripping page-turner. I hoped ...