In Praise of the Late Budding Writer
There are two great things about creative writing. Firstly, anyone with a pen, a laptop or even a stick of charcoal and some serious determination can have a go with it. Secondly, writing is one of those crafts that actively grows as the writer does. That wealth of life experience that people can generate through their lives, romances and careers helps to translate into a better script on the page or a more insightful look at truths discovered through living.
Many well-known and lauded writers started off in entirely different fields before they learned to put their creative ideas on paper and thus earn recognition for their written work. Here are a few names you may have heard of:
Today, he is best known as a multi-million selling and lauded author of novels including Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strain and Congo. But despite having an interest in writing from a young age, Michael Crichton qualified as a practicing doctor and graduate of the Harvard Medical School. He would later use much of the professional knowledge he acquired in medicine and science to underpin the stories he wrote, before eventually making the switch to writing professionally full-time.
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Famously known as the author of the Little House series of novels about lives in the American frontier, Laura’s first book was entitled Little House in the Big Woods. Its more well-known cousin is, of course, Little House on the Prairie, which was made into a long-running TV series starring Michael Landon. Laura Wilder had little time for writing while growing up and working as a teacher, seamstress and cook and overcoming all manner of droughts, fires and other prairie disasters. It took the devastating financial crash of 1929 for her to build on the adventures of her life and bequeath upon us the literary legacy we know today.
“History will be kind to us”, the wartime leader and Prime Minister of Great Britain was said to have said to US President Roosevelt and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in 1943. The reason? His answer was “because I intend to write it”. True to his word, he wrote The Second World War, a history of the conflict in six volumes and published between 1948 and 1953. Earning the Nobel Prize for Literature was by that point a footnote for an illustrious career that had begun in the British Army as an observer during the Cuban war of Independence over fifty years before.
With Maturity Comes Insight, Wisdom, and a Few Great Tales
These three are but the tip of the iceberg of writers who experienced success later in life. Therefore, age is often an advantage for the older writer. That embarrassing incident twenty years before may well make for a great play or poem or opening line. Writing of heartbreak, loss, triumph, love and success is much easier and authentic when it comes from hearts and minds that have experienced it themselves.
One of the common criticisms of younger writers is that without enough life experience of their own, it can be hard to convincingly portray the nuances and complexities of real life, whether or not their stories are grounded in reality or fantasy. That’s not always true, but then, that’s another story for another day.