By Jennie Goloboy
There’s one scene in Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead that I’ve never been able to forget– even though I read it in high school– because it made me so angry. Peter Keating, an architect who hates his job, shyly shows the hero, Howard Roark, a set of paintings. Peter hopes that he can become a painter, like he’s always dreamed. Instead Roark tells him, “It’s too late, Peter.”
This is, of course, total garbage.
If you’re reading this and wondering whether you can become a published author at your age, the answer is yes. Here’s what you need to know:
1. You probably won’t get the first book you ever write published, because hardly anyone does. That shouldn’t stop you from writing that first book, though. Then you can write that second, better book. And possibly a third.
2. You have to stay current. Continue to read new books, and to adjust your project accordingly. If your book has been on your hard drive (or in a shirt box) for a while, it will almost certainly need revision. For example, I spent a year revising my history book manuscript to reflect the changed state of the field since I’d finished the first draft. If you’re writing a science fiction novel, consider– has the real-life technology caught up? Or diverged from what you predicted?
3. You may need help. What’s the fastest way to learn something? To take a class in it. If you have consistent issues with something in your writing, see if you can find a class in the topic. Or see if you can find a beta reader who’s particularly good at whatever the issue is. If you can find people who can gently, productively tell you when your story stinks, you’re golden.
4. You don’t need to write every day. You do need to finish the book.
And in conclusion: Helen Hooven Santmyer. Keep writing, and good luck!