All Shapes, Sizes And Ages.
October 5, 2010

I was a child writer, once.

At eleven, after saving up money from odd jobs done for neighbors, I paid for and attended a children’s writing workshop. I’d thought it was a workshop for child writers; to my surprise, it was a workshop for writers of children’s literature!

The adult writers thought it was so cute that I was there, but the mistake didn’t faze me — I considered myself a “serious writer”, and I learned so much that day. There were agents in attendance who were extra kind and encouraging, who praised my iniative and advised me to keep writing — that, one day, I’d get there.  

I was there to learn, not to pitch my manuscript, although I had a finished one at that point in time. While it’s different for everyone, I wasn’t close to (emotionally) ready for the harsh realities of Query Road.

Which brings me to my point: lately I’ve noticed, while frequenting writers’ blogs and groups, some extremely young writers pushing for publication, or for publication before *insert very young magic age here*.

While there are some amazing younger writers, statistically there are few writing prodigies for a reason: it often takes emotional seasoning and years of life experience to write a novel that resonates with a broad audience.

Most readers won’t think a book is special because the writer is under eighteen; most of us don’t consider a writer’s age when we read a novel. A book is special when the writing is special, when it touches something inside us or opens our hearts and minds to new worlds, or new ways of thinking and being.

There’s no magic age when it comes to publishing, and no shortcuts; being young doesn’t earn a writer special treatment, nor with a ready manuscript should it bar a young writer from representation. Talent develops at different paces — for example, S.E. Hinton was fifteen when she began writing The Outsiders, and eighteen when the novel was published. Frank McCourt published his debut novel, Angela’s Ashes, at the age of sixty-six.

I happen to believe that’s the best part of being a writer — how, no matter ones age, race, gender, height, weight, appearance, we all have a shot — when the writing is ready — and that’s the trick: that there are no tricks, only solid writing, belief in the dream, and practice, practice, practice.

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Happy Birthday, Anne Frank!
June 11, 2009

“Just imagine how forgetful I’ll be when I’m eighty!”

May 11th, 1944.

June 12th happens to be the eightieth birthday of one of the most well-known diarists in history: Anne Frank.

Have you ever imagined what she might have looked like when she grew up, or what she would have become? Would she have been a writer, as she’d pondered in her diary, if only she could write well enough?

April 5th, 1944

I finally realized that I must do my schoolwork to keep from being ignorant, to get on in life, to become a journalist, because that’s what I want! I know I can write …, but it remains to be seen whether I really have talent …

And if I don’t have the talent to write books or newspaper articles, I can always write for myself. But I want to achieve more than that. I can’t imagine living like Mother, Mrs. van Daan and all the women who go about their work and are then forgotten. I need to have something besides a husband and children to devote myself to! … I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living even after my death! And that’s why I’m so grateful to God for having given me this gift, which I can use to develop myself and to express all that’s inside me! When I write I can shake off all my cares. My sorrow disappears, my spirits are revived! But, and that’s a big question, will I ever be able to write something great, will I ever become a journalist or a writer?

Anne Frank 

Anne’s diary remains one of the most well-read books in the world, second only to the Bible.

And to think a publisher once rejected the diary with these words:

“The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the ‘curiosity’ level.”

Click this link to see an age progressed photograph: Anne Frank at 80.

What was Anne’s full name? Annelies Marie Frank, born June 12th, 1929, in Frankfurt, Germany.

 

Anne and her mother.

Anne and Edith Frank.

(Photos courtesy of the Anne Frank House Museum.)

For information on Anne’s birthday celebration events, or to subscribe to the Museum’s newsletter:

Click here: Anne Frank Museum Amsterdam – the official Anne Frank House website
You could also write Anne a note or leave her your own birthday wishes:
  Anne Frank Tree – An Interactive Monument.