Thursday, December 01, 2005

Author ages

I often wonder if other people are as obsessed with author's ages as I am. I've wanted to write fiction since I was, I don't know, 8 or 10. Yet, in college I chose journalism instead and have had a steady career in that. But I've never given up on the dream to write fiction and I've never stopped writing it.
Now, I'm 35 with 12 years of journalism behind me and not a single published short story. Of course, this worries me and makes me think I'm one of those wannabes who whines about writing and never does anything about it. But it's not true, I write constantly, I'm just never happy with it. In the last few years, I've made a more serious effort in improving my fiction and I'm working toward submitting it.
All of this is just preamble to why I'm obsessed with author's ages. I'm constantly trying to find out how old an author was when they published their first short story. Almost down the line, they were 20 to 25 years old. They don't always meet with terrific success at that age, but they've already begun submitting and selling.
Gene Wolfe -- one of the late bloomers as far as publishing goes -- had his first story published in 1965 when he was 34 (according to The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction) and his first novel in 1970 when he 39. Even with him, I've already missed a deadline!
The thing is, this is all pretty silly. There's no age limit to writing. As long as a writer keeps at it with dedication, there's no limit to the age he can begin. I certainly don't look at someone's age when I'm reading a story. I just worry I've passed my prime, my window of opportunity to be a fiction writer has passed. But that's silly, it's all just some neurosis of mine.
Right?

4 comments:

Prof. Hex said...

I certainly hope so. Otherwise, I'm in big trouble. I always thought good writers got going after forty...

Brian said...

I think the operative term there is "got going." Lots of writers don't hit their peak until their 40s. But most were publishing long before that. I don't really think age is any barrier, it's just something I obsess over and that's why i wanted to write about it. I need to exorcise it and just get on with the writing.

writerfella said...

As a lifelong professional, writerfella can tell you that he has met teenagers who wrote rings around him and then again 60-ish men and women who wrote like they were teenagers. Per exemplum, at the Clarion Workshops back in the late 60s, writerfella just was starting out at age 28, after leaving the USAF and having worked at Universal Studios. Fellow student F.M. Busby was 'way past 60, then there was Marvel comic 'enfant terrible' Gerry Conway who was 16. The matter was that we all were developing and evolving our writings at our own rates. From such a standpoint, then, writerfella observes that you must be doing the same. What is amiss, if anything is, lies in NOT submitting to the various markets, even the E-markets , and getting your words wet....
--writerfella

Brian said...

Yes, writerfella, that is my big failing. But I'm working toward changing that. I'm going to write something and get it out there, soon. I will. Thanks for your comment.

Brian.