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                                                      Writing - compressed

42, the answer to life, the universe and everything (including the question, how old were you, when you decided to write fiction other people could read? – at least, in my case).


When it comes to writing fiction, I came late to the party. Before then, I’d come up with lyrics to hundreds of songs, but never had the slightest interest in writing a novel.
Even when I did start, it wasn’t exactly a burning desire – more of an ‘I’m looking for something to do. I think I’ll have a bash at writing a book.’ thing.


I couldn’t say when exactly, but somewhere between typing ‘CHAPTER ONE’ and the ‘THE END’, the idea that I would like to see my hard work snapped up by a lucky agent and publisher took hold.

I bought a copy of the Writer’s Digest Guide to Literary Agents: 2003. After a quick spell check, I mailed the first three chapters of my manuscript (along with what was probably the worst query letter in the history of query letters) to the lucky agent I had chosen to represent me.


Two days later, I got the infamous ‘John Gubb’ letter, which I often refer to during my writing presentations and workshops.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but that letter brought me to what author/teacher extraordinaire, James N. Frey, would call my ‘You stink’ moment.


The ‘You stink’ moment is the T-junction all writers come to at least once in their careers. It’s when reality strikes and you realize your writing sucks, big time. At this point, writers get to make a decision: We can either quit, or we can work to acquire whatever writing skills we lack. I decided to work.


In 2009, Echelon Press offered me a contract for Fur-Face, nearly seven years after I decided to write a book, at the not so tender age of 42.


How about you?


How old were you when you decided to write fiction other  people could read?



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Comments

( 37 comments — Leave a comment )
mtlawson
Jul. 8th, 2013 03:26 pm (UTC)
Wanting to write, or actually doing it?

Wanting probably hovers somewhere in the 17-18 year old range, but actually trying? Well.... I'd say around 40-ish.
jongibbs
Jul. 8th, 2013 03:40 pm (UTC)
When they're younger, I know lots of folks write for themselves - and those friends and family not quick enough to come up with a good reason not to ;)

I'm thinking more about when we decide we want to inflict/submit/publish our work so the general public can read it.

wookiemonster
Jul. 8th, 2013 03:28 pm (UTC)
8. I wrote a story about a robot I'd made out of toys and shoved it in front of other people to read. It was the first story I'd written. It took me about two weeks. I wish I still had it (for all the young'uns out there, this was before it was common for households to have computers and such...) It was written longhand. And illustrated. By me.
jongibbs
Jul. 8th, 2013 03:41 pm (UTC)
A writer AND illustrator, and at such a tender age :)
wookiemonster
Jul. 8th, 2013 03:59 pm (UTC)
Hey, nothing said either was any good. Well, maybe good for an 8-year-old. And by good, I mean ambitious and maybe creative.
msstacy13
Jul. 8th, 2013 03:28 pm (UTC)
Eight. Maybe seven.

I'm not sure whether it's good or bad
that I don't still have that first chapter
of that first novel...
jongibbs
Jul. 8th, 2013 03:41 pm (UTC)
Lol, probably both :)
msstacy13
Jul. 8th, 2013 03:59 pm (UTC)
Strong and compelling arguments
could be made either way...
wookiemonster
Jul. 8th, 2013 04:00 pm (UTC)
You too, huh?
msstacy13
Jul. 8th, 2013 04:16 pm (UTC)
Harry Truman once came into his living room to discover his wife Bess tossing their old love letters into the fire place.
"Think of history," said a horrified Mr. Truman.
"I have," said Bess.
p_m_cryan
Jul. 8th, 2013 03:59 pm (UTC)
I was eight when I decided I wanted to write books for others to read.

I was twenty when I realized that my writing was not one of my strengths, but editing other people's writing was.
jongibbs
Jul. 8th, 2013 05:40 pm (UTC)
Either way, you started early :)
starry_diadem
Jul. 8th, 2013 04:05 pm (UTC)
I've been writing fanfiction for years, but that's a different ball game. There, you're writing for a community of like-minded fans and they're very much more forgiving of mediocrity than they ought to be. But that means that for the last 12 or so years, at least a portion of the public has been reading my work.

Going pro, though? Last year, at the very ripe old age of 57. Since then, I've been working on a big series of novels. I put my first short story to a publisher in March this year for an anthology and it was accepted and published (epublishing) last month. Another story will be included in an anthology next month.

I have a 1-2-1 with Riptide publishing later this week (gulp) to pitch a six novel series to them. Am frantically working on the pitch and the synopses. Am scared.



Edited for clarity.

Edited at 2013-07-08 04:06 pm (UTC)
snapes_angel
Jul. 8th, 2013 05:25 pm (UTC)
Possibly two, three, or four. Even when you can't read, you sort of have a captive audience, when you have older siblings.
jongibbs
Jul. 8th, 2013 05:42 pm (UTC)
Fair point, Elizabeth :)
snapes_angel
Jul. 8th, 2013 06:37 pm (UTC)
And a rather sharp one, too. :3 Just watch out for the Sharpees when you're sleeping.
jongibbs
Jul. 8th, 2013 05:41 pm (UTC)
Good luck with Riptide, Anna :)
(Deleted comment)
jongibbs
Jul. 8th, 2013 05:41 pm (UTC)
Lol, it's great to meet a fellow member of the 29 club, Mark :)
bogwitch64
Jul. 8th, 2013 06:15 pm (UTC)
According to my mother, seven. I wrote "The Fire-Breathing Dragon." She still has it...somewhere.

There has been little time since then that I've not written and shared, BUT, I wasn't ready for the world outside of family and friends until about 2002. That's when I wrote the first thing I truly felt publishable--and it was. So the answer is, 38.
jongibbs
Jul. 8th, 2013 10:44 pm (UTC)
We started around the same time! (I was 2003)
temporus
Jul. 8th, 2013 08:22 pm (UTC)
I started writing stuff that I was willing to let others (granted a small few friends) read by about 7th grade (12 or so.) I knew by high school, I wanted to write and be published, and I spent a lot of energy learning about writing and publishing. Even took a creative writing course in my senior year of HS. Then ended up a creative writing major at college. Finally started submitting to real markets by about 21. So while I wanted to be a writer for many, many years, I'd say it wasn't until I was finally brave enough to send out that first real submission that it was real.
jongibbs
Jul. 8th, 2013 10:46 pm (UTC)
It's a big step, putting yourself out there to get rejected. I suspect if I hadn't already done that with music, I'd have found it a more daunting prospect - Mind you, self-delusion helped too :)
ladysaotome
Jul. 8th, 2013 08:52 pm (UTC)
I was in 6th grade when I wrote my first story. The Adventures of Gumshoe who is kidnapped by pirates. I still have it. Apparently I was going through a Treasure Island meets Carmen Sandiego phase. :)

Now the big question is, at what age did I decide to finish a full-fledged novel. I'll let you know when it actually happens! ;)
jongibbs
Jul. 8th, 2013 10:47 pm (UTC)
Lol, don't leave it too long, Kat :)
sallymn
Jul. 8th, 2013 09:19 pm (UTC)
That others could read... probably about twenty, before then it was strictly self-indulgence for the Sock Drawer File.

That others might like to read... whatever age I was when Luddite Me found the internet :)

jongibbs
Jul. 8th, 2013 10:47 pm (UTC)
the internet is an incredible tool for finding markets to submit too :)
wendigomountain
Jul. 8th, 2013 09:35 pm (UTC)
I was probably 21. I had dabbled in writing earlier, in a more competitive way against a friend who fancied himself the writer since probably the 6th grade. I liked to draw more--and wanted to become and illustrator like Daryl K. Sweet or Ted Nasmith--but my Freshman year in college taught me that art is expensive to make, and my professor showed me that I sucked at it.

It was when I was living with some guys I grew up with and we were all playing in a band with hopes to become Rock Stars. I found myself drifting from them more and more, and my dabbling with writing turned into something I dedicated more of my artistic talents to. I was told by my college professor I couldn't do art, but I knew I could write. And I was a much better writer than a drummer. I won an award that year for a short story in my college lit mag and have been beating my head against this wall called Writing ever since.
jongibbs
Jul. 8th, 2013 10:48 pm (UTC)
'... and have been beating my head against this wall called Writing ever since.'

And having fun too, right?:)
celestialgldfsh
Jul. 8th, 2013 09:56 pm (UTC)
I was four. That's when I started to write and illustrate books for my mom. I was always an enthusiastic writer in school. In like 1995 I started a Writer's Digest subscription for a few years and bought their Market book, but I was too terrified to send anything out.

I didn't start to work through that terror until I was 27, stuck at home with a baby all day. I was depressed. I decided I had to start taking risks if I wanted to really live.
jongibbs
Jul. 8th, 2013 10:49 pm (UTC)
You seem to be making up for it since. I feel like every time I turn around you have another story sold :)
writerjenn
Jul. 8th, 2013 10:42 pm (UTC)
I was still in high school when I started submitting for publication--sold my first story at 17. But then there was a long drought before I sold anything more!
jongibbs
Jul. 8th, 2013 10:50 pm (UTC)
It was kind of you to wait for the rest of us to catch up :)
rymrytr
Jul. 9th, 2013 12:28 am (UTC)


Fiction: Six years old. In the first grade. A book report on a book I never read. The Teacher used the words "fiction", in her report to my parents. :o)
jongibbs
Jul. 9th, 2013 04:46 pm (UTC)
Lol, impressive, Warren :)
jennygordon
Jul. 10th, 2013 11:21 am (UTC)
Hmmm ... good question. Friends and family have been reading my stuff since I was about 7, when I wrote my first story. But I was 25 when I sent my first proper short story out into the Big Wide World. It was short-listed for a prize, and published on the back of that.

Edited at 2013-07-10 11:22 am (UTC)
jongibbs
Jul. 10th, 2013 11:36 am (UTC)
A short list AND publication on your first proper try. Nice one :)
jennygordon
Jul. 10th, 2013 11:56 am (UTC)
Thanks :O) It was a bit of a fluke, mind you. Subsequent short story successes were few and far between. Not to mention entirely absent on the novel front! (So far ...)
( 37 comments — Leave a comment )

Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there


No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there















 











THE MEAGER PUDDLE OF LIMELIGHT AWARDS


Books by my writer friends - compressed

NJ Writing groups - compressed

NJ writing conference - compressed

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