In 1929, Robert Graves needed a best-seller to fund his plan of cutting out of England, buying a house in Majorca, and never having to work again in his life (aside from pumping out 120 books). In eleven weeks, he dashed off Good-bye to All That, a memoir of his years as an officer in World War 1. Instant bestseller (and never out of print). Graves and paramour are off to Majorca.
A few years later, he shared his recipe for success, which I just found and now share with you. His process (he says) was to deliberately mix in all the subjects that people like reading about. Some subjects may be less relevant/useful now, but you can pick and choose.
- Food and drink . . . “I searched my memory for the meals that have had significance in my life and put them down.”
- Murders . . . “I was careful not to leave out any of the six or seven that I could tell about.”
- Ghosts . . . “one ghost story with a possible explanation and one without.”
- Kings . . . and other people’s mothers.
- E. Lawrence and the Prince of Wales
- Poets and Prime Ministers
- Foreign travel . . . “I hadn’t done much of this, but I made the most of what I had.”
- Sport is essential.
- Other subjects of interest . . . “school episodes, love affairs (regular and irregular), wounds, weddings, religious doubts, methods of bringing up children, severe illnesses, suicides.
- Battles . . . “the best bet of all.”
Easy, right? Have at it and let me know how it goes. There’s still room in Majorca.