Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The School of Experience

“Experience is a good school, but the fees are high.”

                                                                                                Henrich Heine

When I started writing with the thought of publication, more than seven years ago, I read something the late (and great) Sid Fleischman said- that his first three years were ‘tuition.’ At the time that seemed such a long time to be writing and making un-publishable stories, and I resolved to have every story count. Whether someone else finds them publishable or even makes an offer to publish, they would nonetheless become part of my writing resume, if only in my own eyes.

Some years later, and with two books strangers can actually purchase, I look back at my early efforts. Not without merit, but also no longer publishable even to my mind.

So I thought about Fleischman’s ‘first three years’ saying, and wondered how long it took me before I wrote well or, ahm, better.

It was about three years.

Oh, and did I mention that Fleischman was also a professional magician? It was both hubris and naiveté to think I can get anywhere faster than Sid Fleischman. But it was also necessary for me to feel that I wasn’t at a rehearsal, that this was the real thing, and every writing moment counted. That’s the way I work.

Maybe there’s a reason university degrees take as long as they do. The school of life can take a lot longer.


  1. Learning through doing, it takes time!

  2. Yup, the school of life ... writing is no different than any other profession. We've got to put in the time.

  3. Oh I hate looking back at my cringe-worthy early writings. But I guess the positive spin on that is that it evidences how much we've grown and learned.

  4. Interesting...3 yrs, hmmm, I'm now on my 4th year, so that means something GREAT better come out of this year :) Thanks, Mirka!

  5. I started trying to get my work published in August of 2009. What do you know? It's three years later. :)

  6. That's funny...took me three years (and then some) to get where I am now. Glad I'm not the only one!

  7. I think it was Linda Sue Park who said if she could make up a college program for writers, it would be five years long and the first two would be reading ONLY. Which leaves for the writing portion...three.