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.