September 5, 2010

A Slice of PIE: The NEW Natural Order of Things

After a brief overview of arguably famous writers (James Michener, JK Rowling, David Brin, Stephenie Meyer, Eoin Colfer, Julie Czerneda, Peter F. Hamilton, Anne McCaffrey, David Weber, Brandon Sanderson, Stephen King, Suzanne Collins and John Scalzi), I noticed that only three started their published writing careers after the age of 40.

Of course, I’d always been told that Michener didn’t start until he was like, seventy or something. That had always given me hope that I wasn't "too late" to start a writing career.

In case you didn’t notice, most of the writers above are speculative fiction (that’s publishing code for science fiction, fantasy, horror and indefinable work that has something futuristic, fantastic or horrible in it – though that can get pretty vague and you will find the likes of Stephen King, THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE and A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR’S COURT in “Fiction & Literature” at Barnes & Noble).

Most of the writers above seem to have published their first novels when they were in their thirties, though one notable exception started when he was the tender age of 27.

That leads me to conclude that The Natural Order of Things is for a writer to get famously published when he or she is firmly ensconced in their thirties. Ah well, that's it for me. Might as well throw in the towel and resign myself to a life of correcting papers and teaching ninth-graders about physics and chemistry...

Of course, it’s also in The Natural Order of Things to be turned topsy-turvy. That’s why James Michener is first on my list. His TALES OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC, which went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1949 and served as the basis for Roger’s and Hammerstein’s musical SOUTH PACIFIC, was published when he was 40. Anne McCaffrey’s “Weyr Search” and “Dragonrider”…well, let’s just say her work has given me hope. Writers of more recent vintage who started their careers later in life include Robert Jordan (though he was writing before The Wheel of Time series. THE EYE OF THE WORLD wasn’t published until he was 42 – just like Frontier Story (aka “Westerns”) legend, Louis L’Amour. Ellen Hopkins, best-selling author of the teen novels CRANK, BURN and others, was first published when she was 49.

And what caused me to begin to question The Natural Order of Things? Yesterday I became a father-in-law seven weeks after I became a grandfather. In my old life, I would have been more interested in The Natural Order of Things than I am now. I would have been more rigid, possibly even judgmental. Even so, my mind wandered (it does that a lot these days) and random thinker that I am, that newly-grown flexibility has started to spill over into my writing life. Maybe I can still become a new OLD writer! Why not? Anything is possible now that I'm starting to wrap my head around such a new (for me) idea.

I'm looking forward to exploring The NEW Natural Order of Things and I hope to take some of you along with me.


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