On Birthdays

I turned 26 last Wednesday. I wrote and played some Zelda. I had a piece of cake.

I think it was Amber Sparks who wrote a nice post about the pressures of publishing early, though I might be mistaken. I couldn’t figure out the right search terms on Google, I guess. At any rate, that pressure is familiar to most. Two faculty members in this program published books by 25. The last book I bought was Karen Russell’s St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, published when she was 25. Someone recently mentioned Tea Obreht, who was born like a month before I was. Did you know she won the Orange Prize, and was nominated for the National Book Award?

The anxiety can get to you. It really used to get to me, though not so much anymore. Youth isn’t such a marketable feature, not really. Usually youth just requires more practice. It’s easy to forget that people my age publishing already probably started writing before 23, which was around the time I started. I was getting an MA then. It was terrible.

Reason is my birthday present this year.

I’m trying to remember that young British writer who put out novels at, I think, 17. Is it Ben Brooks? Is that right? I think he wrote Skins. Again, I’m not getting it right with Google.

When Charlie Baxter was here, he talked about publishing young, at least a little. He was 38 when his first book came out. I’m thinking now about Brad Watson, who teaches here, and who was close to that age when his first, Last Days of the Dog-Men, got published.

God, I love that book.

If you looked up Brad Watson on Wikipedia, you used to get only the hockey referee. Now you get a choice.

Sometimes I wonder if I’d be a better writer if I had a more exciting childhood. That’s silly, though.

I’m on my way to 30, friends.


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