Host Garrison Keillor answers your questions about life, love, writing, authors, and of course, A Prairie Home Companion.
Send GK Your Question »
Advice for Young Authors
September 25, 2013 |
Dear Mr. Keillor, I am 18, just starting my first year of college. My Writing professor assigned us to write about the advice an author gives on writing and how we could learn from it. Having an affinity for your work I want to write my paper on you. My Professor has also asked that we research how the author's life influenced their work and careers as writers. 1) What is the most helpful piece of advice you could offer to young authors? 2) What do you believe most influenced your writing?
Thank you, sincerely
Calvin F. Connors
I wasted so much time when I was 18 trying to write self-dramatizing stories about myself, my feelings of loneliness, about being misunderstood, being an outsider, being torn by spiritual conflict between the beliefs I was taught and what I saw in the world around me, and I wish I had devoted some of that time and effort to listening to my elders talk about their experiences and writing down what I heard. I grew up among men who had fought in World War II. My gym teacher took part in the D-Day invasion of Normandy. My aunts and uncles went through the Great Depression on very little money. My aunt Ina bought a Model A Ford and, without benefit of driving lessons, drove it, with three friends, from Minneapolis to Yellowstone Park and back, on rough roads. My relatives were extremely reluctant to talk about themselves but I should have tried harder. Loneliness is utterly ordinary and banal and not worth a person's time trying to describe -- not compared to a car trip in 1926 by four young women, or a young man in a bobbing boat spotting German artillery at Normandy beach in June, 1944. And now their stories are gone. I feel sad just thinking about it.
What influenced my writing was the King James Bible and the New Yorker magazine and which was the bigger influence, I'm not sure.
Calvin Connors, by the way, is a terrific name for a writer. Also for an actor. Or anything else you decide to put your mind to. Good luck.