Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The First Step On A Long Road

Writers are supposed to be in their mid-thirties, living in New York City after attending prestigious universities, thinking deep thoughts, composing literature.

If you subscribe to that notion, and you don't fit the stereotype, you might wonder why you bother. Older than the ideal? Sure there's no hope of getting published. Residing in a hick town? Sure there's no hope of seeing your name in print.

Suppose you've been driving a truck for a paper mill for thirty-two years, and you went to college later in life, part time after work. Suppose you decide to make use of your love of writing and get a short story published in a university journal. Suppose the journal's editor tells you your story's rejected, but keep writing. Do you give it up?

Donald Ray Pollock accepted the editor's positive spin and signed on to the MFA program. He kept writing and submitting short stories. An assistant at InkWell Management saw one of those stories. Mr. Pollock got an agent.

His collection of short stories is due to be laid down soon. The publisher is promoting Mr. Pollock's blue collar background, making much of the characters that parade across the pages. He's the second coming of Erskine Caldwell, the marketing department would like everyone to know. The sort of people you might know, but would never be spotted in Manhattan.

He's in his early fifties. He lives in a small town in Ohio.

Keep writing. Keep trying.

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