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Writer William Weld takes Twain's advice

When he was still Massachusetts governor, William Weld, was sitting near the fire one winter day and came up with an idea for a novel. He called up his "media guy" and said, "I don't know if I need an editor, a publisher, or a psychiatrist." The answer was an agent. So, Mr. Weld, a lawyer by training, pulled out his dictating machine and started off at a pace of 10 pages an hour. Over the course of eight weekend days, he dictated what he terms a "lousy" first draft of "Mackerel by Moonlight," his first try at fiction.

Over dinner Nov. 5 at New York's "21 Club," he recounted that his original concept was to create a book that combined politics ("I had seven years experience as governor"), organized crime ("I had seven years experience as a federal prosecutor"), and sex ("I felt there had to be a lot of sex for a first novel if it was going to sell some copies"). After a couple of handwritten drafts, the sex disappeared "for political reasons."

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As a result of writing the first novel, Weld said he's learned that Mark Twain was right when he counseled that it was best to write about what you know. "It saves a lot of time," agrees Weld. So, his second novel is based in Washington and West Virginia. It's filled with his "road rage" from his experience trying to get nominated as the ambassador to Mexico. It's due out next year at this time.

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