David Baldacci is the mega-million bestselling author of Absolute Power, The 6:20 Man, Simply Lies, and many more. Here is his All Is Lost Moment and Epiphanal Moment (my interpretation, not his) derived extremely loosely from his MasterClass on Mystery and Thriller Writing (which I highly recommend.)
Mr. Baldacci was a successful lawyer, but his dream was to be a writer of fiction. The short version is after many tries and near-misses, he arrived at one final disappointment that convinced him his dream was never going to come true. In other words, an All Is Lost Moment.
For days, David Baldacci struggled with despair. Was he doomed forever to be a lawyer and nothing more? Then he had an epiphany.
He decided not to fight what he considered the verdict of the marketplace. Heartbreaking as it was, he yielded to what the Big Publishing Suits told him.
But, he said to himself, “I don’t care.”
“Okay,” David Baldacci declared to himself, “I might never see a novel of mine in print. Hollywood may never make a movie based on one of my yarns. But that will not stop me. I’m a writer,” he said, “and I’m going to keep writing. I don’t care if Random House or Simon & Schuster never publish my stuff. Life is unbearable for me if I can’t write. So I’m going to keep writing, success or no”
Why is this a Badge+Gun moment?
Remember, in the classic Cop Story idiom, when your boss takes your shield and your Smith & Wesson, he is yanking your mainstream credibility. You no longer have the full force (or any force at all) of the law behind you. But he, your supervising honcho, cannot take your moral credibility. Only you control that.
In The French Connection or The Silence of the Lambs or any of a thousand other Good Guys versus Bad Guys epics, the shorn detective keeps on going. He or she stays on the case, even at peril to his or her own freedom or worse.
That’s what David Baldacci did.
He dismissed what he believed at the time to be the verdict of the mainstream marketplace. He decided to pursue the case on his own.
There’s a happy ending to this story. David Baldacci kept writing. And it turned out that his All Is Lost Moment was a false alarm. He was a good writer. Readers did clamor for his books. He did realize his dream.
But the critical moment, for his own soul (and for the goddess), was when he turned in his badge and his gun and kept on writing anyway.