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William Morris: “Be authentic”

It is my intent to bless and inspire people. I want to share the message that people from different backgrounds, circumstances, political beliefs, etc. can find what they have in common, build meaningful relationships and all will be blessed. We all have far more in common than we have differences. This Magic Moment is not […]


It is my intent to bless and inspire people. I want to share the message that people from different backgrounds, circumstances, political beliefs, etc. can find what they have in common, build meaningful relationships and all will be blessed. We all have far more in common than we have differences. This Magic Moment is not only the name of one of the Drifters most famous songs, it is a metaphor for life. We have many “magic moments” in our lives that lead to other “magic moments” if we take the time to recognize them. Sometimes it is only when we reflect back that we realize how everything magically worked together.


As part of my interview series on the five things you need to know to become a great author, I had the pleasure of interviewing William Morris. William is a highly successful insurance executive who has built a private firm of 16 executives and staff that represents a “who’s who” of 150 professional firms and has personally achieved the industry’s highest honors consistently throughout his 52-year professional career. In addition, Bill is a person who simultaneously pursued his artistic talents and passions, which resulted in him publishing a highly successful book of his photography, becoming dear friends with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame singers, singing on stage with many of his musical heroes, producing two gospel albums with the Original Drifters, and now writing a book about his remarkable journey with these music legends.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?

My “day job” is that of an insurance executive. I am the President and Founder of The William Morris Group, a financial services firm. This is the way that I have earned my living throughout my career, but my passion comes in the form of the more artistic aspects of life — writing, photography and music. Pursuing my passions has greatly enriched my life and given me experiences I would have never had otherwise. I’ve learned throughout my life that even if circumstances puts you on a certain career path, you should not let that limit you from exploring your other interests and talents.

Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?

The most interesting story is when I was asked to sing the lead in a performance by a famous African American musical group of the 50’s and early 60’s — The Moonglows. I always loved R&B/Doo Wop music but had never done anything musically myself. I had the chance to talk with members of the group during the intermission of their performance in Washington D.C. in 1983. My love for their music led to an impromptu performance and a discovery that I had a gift for singing in that style. At least Bobby Lester and the other members of The Moonglows thought I did! Despite never having had a microphone in my hand, the group insisted I perform with them during their next set that night. That remarkable experience ultimately led to many more opportunities on stage to perform the music I loved with the musical greats I admired.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

The most exciting project that I am currently working on is the launch of my book, This Magic Moment: My Journey of Friends, Faith and the Father’s Love, which details the journey of approximately 40 years with four African American singers — three of whom were Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members. The book officially released on November 1st, after years and years of hard work, and so far the response has been all I had hoped for and more.

What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a great writer? (i.e. perseverance, discipline, play, craft study) Can you share a story or example?

Journaling on a daily basis. I have spent the first hour of almost every day in quiet time during which I draw from God’s holy word. I read other great books and authors, which are relevant. And then, I pick up my journal and write. At present, there are almost 3,000 legal pages which I have written since November 1, 1983. I write about things that have happened. I include conversations and other details I want to remember and, most importantly, I write about how I felt when things were happening. I would have never been able to write my current book that chronicles nearly forty years of my life if I had not written in those journals all along the way.

Can you share the most interesting story that you shared in your book?

I was flying from Jackson, Mississippi to Los Angeles to join Prentiss Barnes as his guest at the Sixth Annual Pioneer Awards of The Rhythm & Blues Foundation to be held March 2, 1995 at the Hollywood Palladium. It was a very special honor for Prentiss and for me to be by his side as his guest. I arrived at the airport in Mississippi only to discover that my flight had been cancelled! The person ahead of me was pleading with the airline representative to find another way for him to arrive in Los Angeles at a similar time but 7:00 pm was the best she could do. He stormed off. When it was my turn, I explained that arriving that late would defeat the purpose of going. I did not elaborate on the occasion but I did share that my friend, who happened to be African American, was counting on me to be there. I turned to pray about the situation and when I turned back again, I was astonished to hear her say that she was arranging a flight for me on another airline that would put me at LAX at 4:15 pm. I will never know if she was moved by the fact that a white man and a black man living in the deep south at this time could have a deep friendship or if it was the answer to my prayer, but I know it is highly unusual for an airline to be so accommodating, especially given that I was using airline miles for my flight. It was a “magic moment” that was not lost on me.

What is the main empowering lesson you want your readers to take away after finishing your book?

It is my intent to bless and inspire people. I want to share the message that people from different backgrounds, circumstances, political beliefs, etc. can find what they have in common, build meaningful relationships and all will be blessed. We all have far more in common than we have differences. This Magic Moment is not only the name of one of the Drifters most famous songs, it is a metaphor for life. We have many “magic moments” in our lives that lead to other “magic moments” if we take the time to recognize them. Sometimes it is only when we reflect back that we realize how everything magically worked together.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in your journey to becoming an author? How did you overcome it? Can you share a story about that that other aspiring writers can learn from?

The biggest challenge I faced was finding an editor who was on the same page with me spiritually. I knew I could find someone who had talents as far as bringing grammatical and artistic aspects of the prose together in a compelling way, but I did not want to have to fight with my editor over what I knew was the central theme of the entire book. We had to be together on that or it would not work. A consultant I know through the insurance business who lives in Nashville and told me about Anne Severance, a veteran editor that was highly regarded and was someone of faith. After speaking with her, I brought her to Jackson to spend the weekend with my wife, Camille, and me to make sure it was the right fit for both of us. She has been so important to this project and is now a dear, lifelong friend.

Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?

I draw the deepest source of inspiration from the Bible and from writers who write in a beautiful and loving way. I only have so much time to read, and I choose to primarily fill my mind with things that are uplifting and informative. Willie Morris, author of North Toward Home, My Dog Skip, and many others, was one of my favorite authors and a dear friend. He was one of the very best at expressing the trials and triumphs of the human spirit, bringing characters to life and vividly describing the scenes to readers. He knew how to communicate a “sense of place.” Willie personally encouraged my writing and heavily influenced it. I am also a fan of Dr. Ferrell Sams who wrote wonderful novels like Run With the Horsemen that were essentially autobiographical while practicing medicine for most of his life. And, for all the reasons I have already mentioned, I am inspired by C.S. Lewis.

How do you think your writing makes an impact in the world?

What I am hearing from people who have read This Magic Moment, is that the story of people in the book with very different backgrounds becoming dear friends and enriching their lives is one that is needed in our divided day and age. The book illustrates that if you focus on what you have in common, what you are passionate about, the differences will not matter.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Be authentic. Do not write your story in anticipation of how it will be received. Write your truth. I knew this to be true but was initially uncertain about how much of the spiritual aspects of my journey should be shared. A friend, who is now my communications director, encouraged me not to worry about whether including the spiritual aspects of my story would alienate readers of This Magic Moment. As she pointed out, my faith played a central role in my journey, so it had to be included. That lifted a burden from me, making it easier going forward to fully share what had happened and how all the pieces fit together.
  2. Find an editor early in the process of writing your book. If you are successful in finding the right editor for you, your editor will be your best friend and writing partner. If you can involve them very early in the process, you will save yourself time and frustration. The same is true with your publisher and promotion team. Take the time and effort to surround yourself with people you like, respect and have your best interest at heart.
  3. Take the time to edit (and re-edit) the manuscript. I went through at least 11 major edits and they were all necessary. It is time-consuming but essential.
  4. Ensure you have the proper amount of lead time needed to promote your book. You need to start executing your promotional plan at least four months before your release.
  5. Writing a book is enjoyable! Sharing my story with others has given me a platform that is attracting so many new and exciting relationships. I am enjoying new experiences and feel blessed and grateful to be in this season.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

If I could start a movement, I would start with one that began with caring about people who might not think the same way as I do. In other words, I would like to see more grace and mercy and civility displayed in our society today.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Website: https://www.williammorrisauthor.com

Twitter: @wmmorrisauthor

Facebook: William Morris, Author

Instagram: williammorrisauthor

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