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My First Time: Larry Benjamin

A few months ago, my friend Andy, in an infrequent email, asked with, typical charming ambiguity, if I’d be willing to write a blog post about my first time. My first time, what? Kissing a boy? Doing the deed? That would have been easy—I’ve written about both before, but alas no, Andy had something more difficult in mind. He wanted me to write about my first time as an author. That was considerably harder. And what part of that experience was I supposed to write about? The first time I wrote a sentence and it danced and sang before me (at least in my head)? The first time an editor read something of mine and said this is good? The first time I published a book? The first time a reader wrote me to talk about something I had written?

I settled on blogging about the first time I wrote a book and got it published. My first book, What Binds Us, surprised me. It was the first—and only time—I’ve engaged a beta reader. After that experience I was ready to take off the training wheels and ride solo, counting on my sense of balance—not certain I wouldn’t fall but unafraid. Sadly, my beta reader passed on between the time I finished writing the book and publication, claimed by the very plague that underpins much of the book itself.

I learned so much from that first book: how to work with an editor; how to gracefully accept feedback and how to fight for what I needed to say; commas; how to explain the rhythms I heard in my head that dictated how sentences were constructed and why they couldn’t be changed.

With the publication of my first book, I went from “writing” to being “a writer.” A subtle distinction maybe, but it was the first time I’d ever thought of myself as—felt qualified to describe myself as—a writer. With that I also experienced for the first time the terror of being sure I’d written my last book, had said everything I would ever have to say. Funnily enough I’ve written two novels, a collection of short stories and a novella since that first book, but after each is published I am again positive I’ll never write again.
Among first times as an author, the first that really stands out is the first time a reader took the time to write and tell me how much they liked my book. One of the first fan letters I ever got was from Andy. I still keep that email in a file and pull it out whenever I doubt my talent, my ability to connect with a reader. I’ll keep most of the contents of that email to myself and Andy but his email opened with this:

“Typically I don’t email the author to say wow, but seriously – WOW!”

That was the first time Andy and I “met;” we’ve been friends ever since. And when I read his novel, Purpose—one of my all-time favorite books—it was the first time I’d ever read a book by another author and wished I’d been able to write it.

What Binds Us

Thomas-Edward is only a teenager when he escapes his solidly middle-class neighborhood. He’s ready for anything—except the arrival of Donovan Whyte in his life. Sophisticated, dazzlingly handsome, and immensely wealthy, Dondi quickly becomes the center of Thomas-Edward’s universe, introducing him to a world full of drama, passion, and family secrets.

When their relationship fails, they remain uneasy friends until Dondi invites Thomas-Edward to his family’s summer house. Thomas-Edward is immediately attracted to Dondi’s mysterious brother, Matthew—and finds himself hopelessly drawn to both men.

As time passes, Thomas-Edward develops a unique bond with both brothers as they orbit around each other, although he knows only one of them can be his lifelong love. Will the three of them be able to find a way to hold on to each other? Or will love, its loss and the threat of death destroy their connection once and for all?

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  1. Jen F Jen F

    Thanks for sharing your first time as a writer. I think writers, especially fiction writers, are brave to put their stories out there for anyone to read and react to. On a side note, I just got the audio of What Binds Us and look forward to listening to it.

    • You’re welcome. And thank you for commenting. Your viewpoint is interesting. I’ve never thought of myself as brave and I’ve certainly been nervous with the release of each book. I suppose, simply put, the desire to share a story, an experience, the ability to share a viewpoint, maybe change a heart or mind, outweighs the fear.

      I’d love to know what you think of What Binds Us, or answer any questions you might have about it.

      Again thanks for commenting. Happy listening!

  2. andygallo andygallo

    So is this where I get to embarrass Larry back? 😛

    No seriously, I truly admire you, not just as a writer, but as a person. You have incredible courage of conviction and I aspire to be more like you. You stand up for what’s right and don’t worry if there is fall out. You’re a modern day Admire Farragut – damn the torpedo, full ahead. That makes you special in itself. Your talent as a writer, make you that much more.

    Thanks for stopping by, but more, thanks for being my friend. I hope to see you soon – and this time, I’ll make sure ‘lil q doesn’t drop her treat so she won’t be so sad. 🙂

    • Thank you my friend. I admire you and sometimes wish I possessed your restraint. This was fun to write. I debated leaving out the last part but it seemed to fit and allowed me to mention Purpose which you know I love. Besides embarrassment is good for the soul.

      We’ll catch up soon. L’l q was adorable even if she was sad…

  3. Purple Reader Purple Reader

    Thanks for sharing about your first book. Nice story, and it had that poignancy to it as well. And yeah, I’m not surprised at how Andy reached out to you and was so positive.

    • thank you. I wasn’t sure what I was going to write until I sat down to actually write the post. And yeah, Andy is super.

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