Most of the basic material a writer works with is acquired before the age of fifteen.
– Willa Cather
My understanding of this quote by Ms. Cather is that “basic material” is the natural talent that we are born with—that skill that is inherent to us—as well as our childhood experiences.
I remember sitting in the back of my parents car with a notebook and pen when I was around eight. I remember the feeling I had putting words on paper. It was thrilling. The joy of creating a story out of nothing. My pen, giving my make believe world a heartbeat.
That “young,” childhood dream you have does not need to be some bright, colorful kite in the sky that floats away every time you try and snatch it. Persist. Persist. Persist.
Despite your age, (and what is “old” anyway?) if that writing spirit is nagging your heart, yearning for your attention and longing to be freed, consider this:
- James A Michener wrote forty books, after the age of 40.
- Laura Ingalls Wilder began her writing journey when she was in her 40s, but was only considerably successful 20 years later, after Little House in the Big Woods was published.
- Helen DeWitt was 44 when she published The Last Samurai.
- At the age of 57, Anna Sewell sold her book, Black Beauty.
- At 90 years of age, Millard Kaufman’s debut novel, Bowl of Cherries, was published.
- Mark Twain published Huckleberry Finn when he was 49 years old.
Writers are Word Artists. Think of yourself that way.