I know of some who sold late though they started early---H. Beam Piper, I gather from a recent biography, started writing in his teens, but didn't sell anything till his forties, and had his greatest success still later. (This "success" was problematic, and didn't involve much money, either.)
Also, Heinlein, despite claims-by-him to the contrary, had done a good deal of writing before his first story was accepted by Astounding.
Is this the five minute argument, or the four and a half hour argument?
I think the main thing to take away from the article is, as you pointed out, Ben, is the "patron".
Maybe it was here, or on another message board, where it was noted that people with "real" jobs tend to treat the artistic job as somehow a hobby, or something less worthy.
I'm not saying one should ditch one's responsibilities to one's family or significant other, but writing is work. Unfortunately, it doesn't pay too well, but that doesn't make the work any less important or satisfying.
I was unemployed all of last year. During that unemployment, I looked for "real" work, but I also completed three screenplays (which are works of genius, by the way; just need to convince others), had two short stories published, a flash fiction piece written last year that'll be published sometime in the next couple of months, re-outlined a novel that now works much better than it previously did, and I discovered and visited another planet.
The point is that one needs to work at writing, as Fountain does/did in the linked article. It is a job, and it needs to be approached like a job. I'm currently working at less than a third of my previous salary, but it enables me to continue my writing schedule. I've made the decision that this current employment is my part-time job, and my "real" job is writing.
So it helps to surround yourself with like-minded individuals, and to be wary around those that insist one spend one's time doing "real work". I had a conversation with a friend on Monday as I laid out my plans for 2010, and he said good for me, but...the caveat: It's okay to dream, just don't let it interfere with your "real" life.
I'm still friends with him, by the way. He's just trying to be helpful, trying to steer me to sobriety, and trying to be pragmatic. Actually a good thing.
But...be wary around people like that. Don't let their well-intentioned advice take you away from your path.
Thank you for sharing. I fall more in the experimental classification, which will bring no comfort to my family and friends. "Hey, guys, I know you think I'm selfish for writing, but I'll be big by the time I'm fifty!"
Dory's quote goes through my head several times a week. A quote that I try not to consider, but that came to mind from as I reaad this article, is from another animated character, Uncle Iroh:
quote:While it is always best to believe in one's self, a little help from others can be a great blessing.
I found that the people I care about didn't stop treating my career as a hobby until I did. Acquaintances can still be weird about it, but by carefully applying my ninja interpersonal skills I've been able to keep those interactions to a minimum.
I'm so overwhelmed by the amount of support I've received from family and close friends that it's added the fear of unmet expectations to the everyday fears of sucking in general and being discovered to be a self-deluded fraud. There's probably no way to win, so I suppose it's best to just try to enjoy the fight.
Nice post, Rich. Thanks.
[This message has been edited by posulliv (edited February 24, 2010).]
Having read some of your work, Patrick, I can honestly say that you're a great writer. Both you and Betsy pissed me off you guys were able to write as well as you did in that one day. I can't help it. I'm the jealous type.
Everything I've read indicates that ALL the writers we admire had one thing in common: persistence. Talent helps, but it's the persistence that gets you published.