Maralys Wills

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A Circus Without Elephants

A lighthearted memoir filled with family stories

 Get it in Maralys's Store

Maralys Wills

From Maralys Wills

Welcome, all you writers and readers, to my web site.

Like many of you, I wear several hats--I'm a speaker, author of 13 books, and a writing instructor. But I especially love the process of helping other writers.

Those of you who've read my book on how to write, ("Damn the Rejections, Full Speed Ahead"), may remember a truism about re-writing. "An author never finishes a book. He just abandons it."

This came from a Vermont author who expressed what we writers all know—every outstanding book we’ve read became wonderful only because it was polished endlessly before it was published—before the first paying reader ever saw it. Even “To Kill a Mockingbird,” whose magic words I’d always assumed dropped like manna from heaven, was submitted as a “potentially good” manuscript and took two full years of intense polishing before Harper Lee turned it into today’s classic.

My hang gliding memoir, “Higher Than Eagles” is the extreme example of a manuscript that changed from oft-rejected, to a book with enviable reviews and strong movie potential—but only after 14 years of editing.  Not that I wrote and re-wrote nonstop for 14 years. I didn’t.  During those years I published a lot of other books. But I kept going back to this project—the book of my heart--moving it up one notch, and then another, until it I felt there was nothing more I could do.  When it was finally published, it earned a visit from the TV newsmagazine 20/20, and later five movie options, including from Disney..

“Higher Than Eagles” became my teacher. The sheer effort of all that writing and re-writing . . . the intense analyzing . . . taught me so much about the craft of writing and book publishing (and especially about writing memoirs), that I’ve been teaching the essentials of memoir-writing ever since.

I love to tell aspiring writers my two secrets for getting published: never stop improving your manuscript. And never stop sending it out.

* * * *

Exciting News About Higher Than Eagles

The screenplay for Higher than Eagles is now being considered for a movie.

Here are the first 1-1/2 pages of Higher than Eagles

Maralys:

I NEVER THOUGHT I'D lose a son to hang gliding. It just never seemed possible that the sport we'd watched and applauded--the sport we'd taken on as a business and nurtured from infancy--could turn around and bite us. And Eric! How could it have been our third son, Eric, they called about, when all along it was Bobby who took the risks, Bobby who'd made a private pact with Luck?

Of all our six boisterous children, only Bobby lived on the edge of disaster. He drove his truck as though pursued by hit men. He rode his Bultaco motorcycle full bore down dirt roads at night, mindless of potholes, going airborne over whatever road junk he couldn't see. He flew his hang glider off unfamiliar mountains, playing the odds like an eagle--imagining he could make the flight work out and not worrying about the wind or the terrain or who would pick him up down below.

So why was it Eric--affable, non-daring Eric--they called about?

I remember that I was caught off guard . . . things had been going so right in our family, and Rob and I had come to expect it--as though we deserved our good luck after all the difficult years with Bobby, as though we'd paid our dues raising five rambunctious boys and now we couldn't be touched. Bobby was the one who lived dangerously, and he seemed destined to escape.

As a family we were flying high indeed, and nothing was going to bring us down.

I have only a vague impression of Eric leaving that Saturday, ambling long-legged through our kitchen, his wavy hair too long as always, his manner relaxed and pleasant. He was twenty. I suppose he was, as usual, loose and unhurried, whether he was in a hurry or not. Eric had always been one of those kids you enjoyed having around because he accepted life like a philosopher--with amusement and perspective.

"Where are you going?" I asked.

"Flying," he said, taking a banana from the fruit dish.

"Who are you going with?"

He shrugged, peeling down yellow strips. "Danny Wilson and some guys. You don't know the rest." His blue eyes turned in my direction, a dismissive look. "I've gotta go, Mom. They're waiting."

"Okay," I said.

An unremarkable conversation. I was busy making breakfast and didn't notice what he was wearing, didn't find out where they'd be flying. Later I asked myself, Why didn't you look at him there in the kitchen, really look at him as he left, so you'd have something to remember?

But why would I? I never imagined he wouldn't be coming back.

 

Books by Maralys Wills:

Damn The Rejections Full Speed Ahead

THE book on how to write a book!

Get it in Maralys's Store

 

Hang Gliding with Higher than Eagles

A poignant hang gliding memoir

Get it in Maralys's Store

Where to Buy:

See Maralys's Store page

Looking for a Speaker?

I speak on many topics:
Writing, publishing, memoirs,
humor, and family stories.
Visit Maralys's speaking page.

Links

Blogs:

Thoughts on Writing
A Moment With Maralys
Hang Gliding: Higher than Eagles

Websites:

Damn the Rejections
Higher than Eagles