No...Not me. The first piece I wrote was a poem about New York while I was in Elementary School. The teacher liked it but I received my first rejection from my fellow students—what, I thought, do kids know about criticism? In High School, my first attempt at writing romance was crushed by the teacher and became my last. He printed the following in CAPS, in red ink, “THE WORST STORY I EVER READ.” I thought he should have given me credit for not writing about “What I Did on My Summer Vacation.” I picked myself up, kept writing and years later the first story published was in a little magazine called The Villager—the story loosely based on my family. When I received my copy and held the magazine in my hot and sweaty little hands, I reacted by running around the apartment screaming, “I’m a writer, I’m a writer.”
I’m no genius and under no circumstances would become a child prodigy—I was long past my salad days when I began to be published—never a would-be Mary Shelley or her Percy. I would never emulate the frail Alexander Pope who published his sophisticated verse Pastorals at the age of sixteen and went on to translate Homer’s Iliad or Stephen Crane who wrote his first known story “Uncle Jake and the Bell Handle” at the age of fourteen. By the time he was twenty, he had 14 stories published in the New York Tribune and his The Red Badge of Courage, published at 23 and stayed on the best seller lists for four months. Then there is Jane Austen—who I read over and over again—Jane began writing novels at 15 and by the age of 23 had completed Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, and Pride and Prejudice. Wow!
Now I know we’re all too modest to claim the title of genius or child prodigy but I am curious: When did you begin writing? Receive your first rejection and saw your first article, story or novel published? How did you react?