Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Been to the valley, now climbing the montaintop...

This was the view from where I had lunch, on Wednesday. Just sitting on a porch in a rocking chair and gazing across those hills did more to clear my mind of its clutter than anything else I'd tried, the previous week. Not even taking a ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island and back in the brisk, sharp rain worked.

It also made me receptive to the following comment by Hope Clark, in her newsletter, Funds for Writers:


remarkable part of this profession we've chosen is that there are no age restrictions. We can be young, fresh out of school, and thanks to our wide-open, untethered, rose-colored glasses view of life, we can create a remarkable tale because we've never been told that sort of tale won't sell. We can be retired, a wealth of knowledge collected from life experiences, and choose to mold those moments and thoughts into stories before our time is done. And we can be anything in between.

Bram Stoker was 50 when he published Dracula.
Laura Ingalls Wilder was 64 when she wrote her first Little House book.
Frank McCourt was 66 and waited until he'd retired from teaching to write his first book, Angela's Ashes.
Raymond Chandler was 51 when he published the first Philip Marlowe mystery noir.

On the other side...

Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein at age 19.
Alec Greven published How to Talk to Girls at age 9.
Helen Keller wrote her autobiography at age 22.
Christopher Paolini published Eragon at age 18.

The moment you tell yourself you are too young or too old, you are simply throwing up obstacles in front of yourself, because age doesn't matter to anyone else. Writing is about pure word mastery . . . at any point in your life.

Likewise, education is not a requirement. You may earn an MFA in creative writing or start in high school. What matters most is your motivation. My degree was in agronomy (agricultural plant science), yet I've published six mystery novels.

Amanda Hocking was a millionaire with her fantasy works by the age of 25 after only two semesters of community college. Jonathan Franzen isn't a fan of authors getting an MFA, but Alexander Chee is. Junot Diaz has an MFA and still doesn't think anyone needs it. Read more in this piece, 27 Writers on Whether or Not to Get Your MFA -

Then there are the high school dropouts: Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird), Augusten Burroughs (Running with Scissors), Jack Kerouac, William Faulkner, and Jack London.

When you set conditions on being a writer, you're fooling only yourself. The biggest requirement is an intensity to write, and a fire in your belly to be better, and better, until you can write no more.

I was starting to feel old and weary and down because of a whole host of issues...but the last few days have turned my self-denigration around and rekindled the fire within. I got lots of shit to say, and I'm gonna say it.

Watch me burn.

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