Thursday, May 7, 2009

Crossroads

After seeing book after book after book of advice on how to write, how to punch up those sentences and make them active, I started reading biographies instead, and, maybe it was my age at the time, but I was almost always interested in how writer’s acted in their early twenties. Nowadays, it seems the manufactured age of being ‘at the crossroads’ is 22, after graduating college. Of course, there are hundreds of ‘at the crossroads’ moments in life, but it seems like around that age writers tend to choose a new path to follow, or get into trouble, or something very interesting happens.

Two examples, off the top of my head, are Mark Twain, or good old Samuel Clemens then, falling in love with a 15 year old and being broken when her parents refused to accept him. Or Dostoevsky, who, after publishing his first book, was taken to prison in Siberia, where he stayed for over a decade. It was only in his sixties that he wrote C & P, The Brothers Karamazov, and so on…

As for me, nothing nearly that dramatic. I was a tennis teaching professional, teaching 40 hours a week, stuck in the mud, adrift…until I entered a Master’s in Writing Popular Fiction program. After getting that degree, I ended up moving to Japan, where I’d live for a year and a half…the best thing I’d ever done.

But I still have to smile at the man I was back in the day, when I was 22 and feeling perpetually hopeless.

So…I’m sure you know where this is going. What were you doing when you were around 22? And if you're younger than that, or around 22 now, it's just as great hearing from you too.

13 comments:

  1. Age 22: been married for one year, been in grad school one year.

    That was several presidents ago. A lot of water under the bridge since then....

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  2. When I was 22 I was in a band on our way to super stardom. We got as far as The Bitter End!

    The dreams I had then are similar to the ones I have now.
    Then: Rockstar Now: Author
    Reality: Ironworker (with an insatiable need for creating, etc.)

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  3. I got married at 22 and was working. Not writing at all. It took me 5 years to write after that. Sad, huh?

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  4. Hmm, 22. That wasn't all that long ago, you'd think it'd be more clear. At 22 I was, let's see, writing, dreaming of getting published, wishing I could go back to Ireland, where I was lucky enough to spend a week when I was 19, wishing I could stay in Alaska, instead of leaving it as just a vacation spot, and working on the same farm I work on now.
    I can tell you more about who I was with than what I was doing. And I was with good people, most of whom I'm still tight with now, and we were having fun, and loving life, which we still are.

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  5. 22. Jesus. Man, I was am immature brat. Maybe I wasn't still picking my nose and eating paste, but I am sure I thought about it.

    22, I ran screaming from Seattle (leaving behind my penchant for bad relationships) to work in Charlotte, NC. Not the best move, and pretty dumb career wise, but I met my wife there, so, I love 22.

    22. I had written many things, all hack writing. I am one of the original authors of the online Microsoft Knowledge Base (http://support.microsoft.com). By 22 I had written over 200k words in technical articles, many which are mow obsolete.

    Yeah, I like fiction much better! If you would have told me at 22 I would love to write when I was much older, I would have kicked you in the shins. After biting your arm.

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  6. 21: Got Married

    22: Working on a Masters Degree and teaching

    After that:

    Lived on a sailboat for four years

    Ran some long distance races

    Started writing again, but with purpose

    I've driven like a mad man, weaving in and out of different roads and crossroads. Got in a few traffic jams and crashed a few times.

    Now, I'm back on the road I wanted to be on back in my twenties. And, I'm glad to be traveling with my wife and two kids.

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  7. Twenty two seems like decades ago, because it was. I had just graduated from engineering school, packed everything I owned into my van, turned right on Interstate 90 in South Dakota, and headed west for the California Bay Area for a new job.

    At that time I lived and breathed digital electronics. I didn't have a clue about writing, or did I care. But I did read.

    Mostly I read Tom Clancy novels, but I also read a few of "the classics" like The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and the Dune series.

    After writing two versions of a very successful engineering textbook, I thought how cool it would be to write fiction, but it wasn't until later that I decided to figure out how to do it, and take the plunge.

    Best decision I ever made.

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  8. At 22, I was still in the uni and trying to complete my first degree soonest possible so as to honor my commitments which I had promised to those people who had touched my life.

    With the blessings I had fulfilled most of my promises.

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience.

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  9. Really interesting. Thanks, everyone! Definitely a strange but good year.

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  10. At 22 I was married, pregnant, quitting the job at the horse barn, working as a receptionist at a driving school and trying not to think about that writing thing. Didn't really know what I was going to be doing, other than that new project I was working on, the one that would become my new life, soon to be followed by her little brother...

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  11. When I was 22 I did not know that, nearly a year later, I would respond to this post.

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