A while back I wrote an essay, “Too Young to Publish”, which has been much linked to and discussed around the traps. Very gratifying that people have found it useful and thought provoking, cause, you know, that’s why I write these things. A few people, however, seem to have read me as saying that if you’re young you can’t be talented and shouldn’t be published.
Not no way never.
I’m glad Sonya Hartnett, S. E. Hinton and this really great fantasy writer whose name I’ve completely forgotten (update: Joyce Ballou Gregorian) who died very young (update: She was 21 when her first book pub’d and 44 when she died) after only two or three fab books (whose titles likewise are escaping me—update: The Broken Citadel 1975, Castledown 1977 and The Great Wheel 1987) published when they did. They were well and truly good enough.
The essay was addressed to the impatient, overly-convinced-of-her-own-genius, fifteen-year-old me. Even though I wouldn’t have listened and would have told the current me to bugger off. I was inspired to write it by teenage writers who wrote asking me about the age thing, and one of them kinda reminded me of me at that age (only less obnoxious).
Everything I said applies to a beginning writer of any age. No matter how old you are when you start writing, making being published your first priority and being driven into a deep, dark depression when you’re not is a waste of time. Improving your craft, learning to be a writer, a really good writer, is the thing. There are writers in their sixties who still don’t get this and writers in their teens who are all over it.