This remains as perhaps the most useful writing advice I've ever received over the years, and it sounds simple enough, but I have not always had the courage to follow it.
Oh I thought I was being bold, daring, even when i wasn't and still there are times when I type out a sentence or paragraph and then delete it with the thought, No, I can't write that. Or I come up with an idea for a story and think wow, that would be great but people will think I've completely lost my mind. More and more, I eventually say to hell with what somebody might think. It's how or what I want to write and damn it I'm going to write it that way. I'm not all the way there yet, but I do believe of letting it all hang out these days.
Write like your momma is dead came from a fellow writer at a class I took some 11 years back, but an agent once told me something very similar. If your writing doesn't piss off somebody, chances are you are writing strong enough to truly reach anybody.
At least for me this statement has a slightly different meaning as it's more about passion to your words than self censorship.It's the difference between the married couple that only has sex on the first and third Saturday of each month and the couple that sneaks off the the janitor closet when the PTA meeting gets dull. Passion, it seems to me is the key sustaining anything is this life. Which leads me to another statement about writing that has always stuck with me.
Talent, luck, and perseverance. To get published at least once, a writer needs only one of these things. To have a career they need only two.
I'm especially interested to hear what my fellow writer think about this statement.
I'd like to think I have some writing talent and generally speaking I've always considered myself extremely lucky in life, and given the fact I'm still knocking on doors and rattling cages better than a decade after entering this business I do believe I am persistent. And yet, I at this point I can't honestly call my writing endeavors a career. It's certainly more than a hobby, but given that it's my 40 hours a week at the Post Office that pays the majority of the bills I can't truly say I have a writing career.
Another literary agent once told me ... No one under the age of 35 should attempt tow rite fiction as they do not have enough life experience to pull it off. I was 28 at the time. Her words pissed me off, motivated me. I was certain I'd prove her wrong by publishing at least one, if not more, novels before I turned 35. I'm not 38 nearly 39. She wins. I lost, but I still think her statement was bullshit. So I didn't disprove it these people did.
Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird was released 9 months before her 35th birthday.
Stephen King was a mere boy of 26 when Doubleday bought Carrie.
and here is more authors who published their first book before 35 ...
- Junot Diaz – 29
- Thomas Pynchon – 26
- Margaret Atwood – 30
- John Barth – 27
- Ayn Rand – 29
- Ernest Hemingway – 27
- John Steinback – 27
- Joan Didion – 29
- F. Scott Fitzgerald – 24
- Francine Prose – 27
- Kurt Vonnegut – 30
- Salman Rushdie – 28
- Italo Calvino – 24
- E.L. Doctorow – 29