Writers Tricks of the Trade VOLUME 8, ISSUE 4 - Page 21

In Nashville, it's not so much who you know as what you can do, and I think I acquitted myself very well during my years there. I left voluntarily, despite hav- ing opportunities to move into record producing. My time there showed me I could accomplish a lot of things if I put my mind to it and worked hard. I subsequent- ly left country music altogether and moved to Fort Lauderdale in 1984 and then to New Orleans in 1985 where I played and sang rock & roll and rhythm & blues in a Bourbon Street hotel piano bar. WTT: That's quite a change! MD: It really was. I had never done that kind of thing before and the gig just sort of fell into my lap. I sensed opportunity, so I grabbed it and wound up playing at that hotel for nearly 7 years. It was diffi- cult at first, building a solid repertoire and developing my strength to where I could play and sing 100% of the songs for 5 hours a night, six nights a week. That can take a lot out of you if you're not used to it. WTT: Then what? MD: Well, then I moved to Key West, where I played for the next twelve years or so. Key West is a great place, but musi- cally, Jimmy Buffett has ruined it with his calculated images of the town. Everyone wants to hear "Margaritaville". I only played it at gunpoint. W INTER 2019 WTT: So, according to my calculations, we're up to around 2004. Is that when you started writing? MD: Time for a flashback. I started writ- ing in 1987, during my New Orleans years. A lady friend of mine, who was her- self a writer, somehow got the idea that I could write a novel. I laughed it off, telling her that was the province of "real" writ- ers, not musicians like myself. Anyway, she continued hounding me until I'd had enough. One day, I bought a sheaf of blank white paper and a box of pencils (computers in those days were way too expensive). I sat around looking at that blank sheet of paper for hours until finally an opening line came to me. Then, another line, then a character, and boom! I was off to the rac- es. Three months later, I had a finished novel. The next day, I started another one. That one took me about eight months to write. Of course, neither of those novels will ev- er see the light of day, but as a result of the confidence I'd gained during my Nashville years, I was able to actually write two novels! I started a third imme- diately. My music career prevented me from devoting any real time to marketing these books, so the third one languished in semi-finished form for three or four years. By then, I was in Key West. The musical pressure was off and I could feel the first subtle rumblings of my music ca- reer winding down. P AGE 16 W RITERS ’ T RICKS OF THE T RADE