Tag Archives: when to publish

How Many Books and the Age of the Author

Words and Photos by Rebecca T. Dickinson

Outside reveals magic. My 21-month-old had moments Tuesday when he acted like a pistol going off in its holster. With the weather warming earlier, I have taken him outside in the morning after my early work.

Some of the little flowers growing on the trees near the Catawba River.

The problem with South Carolina’s climate is the humidity. It feels like the sun beats on your back during the summer. But Charles and I have taken advantage of spring while it is still spring. A much-needed nature walk calms both our nerves.

Not as much is blooming on the Catawba River compared to the gardens and other parks we visit.

My mind often wonders when I am out. I thought about advice on an author’s website. Most of the information I had read before, but it did not hurt to brush up. She said a patient, expectant author might write fifteen novels before a single publication. If he or she does not, then the writer did not really want the publication that bad in the first place.

Writers also need experience, she wrote. I agree with the claim. Otherwise we have nothing to write about. However, she said most writers should reach middle age or older before they are published. It is a fact most published writers are older, but I had a small issue with the word should.

I questioned: Is being published young like a cat on a leash or a dog in a baby doll stroller?

I wanted a shot of the dog in the bright pink stroller too, but my camera died before I could take it.

I thought about young authors. I do not think it is impossible to acquire life experience in teen years and twenties—like me—to inspire something of quality. From college life to marriage at 22 and a separation at 24; living in England; falling in love with a co-worker 32-years older than me; becoming a mother; work as a journalist and with children gives me some experience at the age of 26. I’m not on the verge of a big break. Come on. I’m somewhat realistic. My point is to write something of quality is not impossible at a young age or at any age, no matter when you start writing.

Any writer, no matter when he or she started writing, has wings within to take off on a fantastic flight.

The other part of the author’s stance—about how many novels a writer composes before publication—crossed my mind as Charles and I walked. I wrote two full books; one in the eighth grade and the other in tenth. They dealt with the “warm-hearted” delights of friendship that were in reality false. (I was a very naïve teenager.)

I wrote six chapters in seventh grade about a girl who was diagnosed with cancer and played soccer for Clemson University. (This was before the life changing moment when I realized I was a South Carolina Gamecock.) Inspired by my mother’s 1970′s music and my interest in Fleetwood Mac, I wrote a book about a band formed in a garage.

I started another one with a fantasy world. I loved old maps and atlases. They looked artistic, and revealed unknown worlds. Someone reminded me the other week of one I’d forgotten. The summer before my second year at South Carolina, I began writing chapters about triplet brothers whose parents decide to divorce. Aside from the triplets’ part, divorce and how it changes families would become completely relatable to me.

My life as a writer began early. I mean early. Before I could write kind-of-early. Manuscripts fill half of my parents’ attic. Newspapers fill old boxes in my husband’s office. Magazines take up shelf space.

How many books must you read before seeking to become an author?

How old should you be to seek publication?

I can only say it is up to each writer to decide how much he or she wants to educate his or herself. You can prove cats do walk on leashes. You can prove dogs are pushed in strollers. You can show the world you are more than a goose standing in the middle of the road. You have wings, and you are not going to be pounded by the car speeding down the road unless you stay there.

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