Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Amen Sister

I got a catalog in the mail from Daedalus Books, and they have major discount books -- everything seemed to be priced between $4 and $7 in the catalog. Not everything is great in the catalog, but there were a few things that were worth the price. So I picked up a wall calendar, a copy of Pattern Recognition by William Gibson (I borrowed it from the library and always meant to purchase it) and a book called The Quotable Book Lover -- basically quotes from authors. I thought it would be fun for times like this, when I haven't had time to read too much.

So today's installment is:

As for writing, at thirty I was still writing, reading; tearing up industriously. I had not published a word (save reviews). I despaired. Perhaps at that age one is really most a writer. Then one cannot write, not for lack of skill, but because the object is too near, too vast. I think perhaps it mst recede before one can take a pen to it.

-- Virginia Woolf

I took some degree of comfort in that quote. Just the whole idea that maybe it's okay to be 34 and still in the beginning stages of the fiction writing career. Every once in a while you'll hear of some promising youngster getting some novel published and not even appreciating the huge amounts of effort it takes some people to get to that point, but I think there are even more people who struggle longer to make that breakthrough. And to never give up is an important rule of thumb.

Of course, I think her whole point is that when you're younger, you might not have the seasoned view -- the detachment from living life -- that you may gain when you're older. And true, my tone and style has changed a whole lot. But I took some degree of solace in the quote.

Write on,



Blogger Jen said...

Yeah, most of the young published writers I've read were pretty one note--most of them went on to write identical second or third novels. Perhaps that's what they thought their audience wanted, or perhaps they felt (because of their early literary success) there was no need to change. Remember that whole brat pack-Bennington College eighties bunch who wrote absolute crap? (Bret Easton Ellis...)

Daedadlus books is right off rte 32 here. I've also wanted to go, but I never find myself down that way. I imagine it's a lot like Atlantic Books?

8:30 AM  
Blogger Broadsheet said...

If you want a fun, literary day trip, you owe it to yourself to head up to PA and visit Baldwin's Book Barn in Westchester, PA. I used to live near there and wasted many a weekend and a lot of $$ in the place. It's wonderful. It's also close to Longwood Gardens and some other attractions that you could easily make a weekend of it as well.

"A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction." - Virginia Woolf

9:27 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

This is completely unrelated, but I thought you crazy writers might get a kick out of this (sorry if you've already seen it):

Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully: in Ten Minutes, by Stephen King

4:43 PM  
Blogger Hebdomeros said...

Often what happens with the flash in the pan types is that they create something unique, but after the novelty of their style wears off there's not a lot there. A few make it, obviously. Some lose it, and others like Salinger go crazy. Gibson I thought was losing it, but Pattern Recognition changed my mind. A very good book, I thought.

Nice list from King there. Pretty funny.

5:29 PM  
Blogger LadyLitBlitzin said...

Hee hee -- yeah, Jen, that brat pack bunch is a good example.

Linda, where is Westchester? It sounds like a nice day trip.

Jeff -- that's a great link! Thank you, it's good advice.

Hebdomeros, Yeah, I think success too early can really mess with someone's mind. But yeah, Gibson wrote some kind of crappy stuff after Neuromancer, but he's back on target with Pattern Recognition.

10:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are some extremely talented authors who began young and have continued in their adulthood. Kenneth Oppel, Isabelle Cormody, and Gordon Korman to name a few.

But what makes a writer great isn't where s/he starts but where s/he finishes. Remember this rule of thumb:
"The difference between a published author and an aspiring writer is that the former never gave up."

Never give up.

2:13 AM  
Blogger maikopunk said...

whenever I hear of some precious young thing being handed a contract for $$$, I just think "I hate overachievers." (Not those chick-lit phenoms so much as the young brilliants just turned out from prestigious writing programs.)
I was working in a bookstore when an old classmate got his first novel published (he had written it at Columbia, grrr.) and I couldn't help wanting to knock over the stacks on the front tables. Now I can't surpress a giggle when I come across it in a remainder bin.
So yeah, I take comfort in the idea that you have to live a little, have some jobs, travel, alienate some people before you can really write, and that if I'm 29 I've still got some time. Right? Right???

2:33 PM  
Blogger LadyLitBlitzin said...

Of course you've still got time, Maikopunk! :) That was exactly what I meant to convey with that post. :)

And Anonymous -- you're right, the former never gave up. That's what we aspire to!!

4:57 PM  

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