Bill Landau

Bill Landau

Have you ever tried writing a book? How about a poem? Or maybe even a short story? If you haven't tried, maybe you should give it a whirl.

A long time ago, when I was in second grade, my teacher had us each write an original poem. "Think of your favorite thing, and write a poem about it," she said. Anyone who knows me will not be surprised that I wrote a little poem about my favorite cartoon character, Snoopy. I thought for a few minutes, then carefully handprinted my eight-line poem on lined paper, and handed it in. The next day, I was surprised to see my poem on the classroom bulletin board, with a big blue ribbon on it! I had won first place on the very first poem I ever wrote! I proudly took my poem and ribbon home and showed my mom, who promptly stuck in on the front of the refrigerator, where all great works of art are posted.

This is where my story takes a dark turn. I grew up with five feisty brothers (and no poor mother!) and we were always up to some mischief. The next morning when I came down for breakfast, I found my award-winning poem on the floor...ripped in two! After much household drama that resulted in no one admitting they did it, and EVERYONE getting grounded, we taped the poem back together, and I still have it to this day. But the biggest thing I learned from this turn-of-events is this...I must be really good at writing poems if one of my brothers was jealous enough to tear it apart! As a result, I have been writing poetry ever since.

But I can hear some of you now saying you are too old to start writing books. Nonsense! Some of the world's greatest authors got a very late start in their writing career. Take James A. Michener, for example. You might know his Tales of the South Pacific, which won a Pulitzer Prize and went on to be adapted into a highly successful Broadway musical. He did not start writing until age 40, but then wrote a book a year for the next 40 years!

Laura Ingalls Wilder did not have any writing success until she was 65 years old when Little House in the Big Woods was published. Many of her stories were based on her real-life experiences, so perhaps she needed to live much of her life first before trying to write it down.

Toni Morrison was 40 years old when she wrote The Bluest Eye. She continued to write for the rest of her life, eventually winning a Pulitzer Prize and a Nobel Prize in Literature. Mark Twain was 48 when The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn were published. Let's not forget the J. R. R Tolkien was 45 before he had any success in writing. Then he went on to become the "father" of modern fantasy literature with books like The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

That should be enough proof that it's never too late to try your hand at writing what could become the next great novel. If you do get your book published, we would love to have it available for checkout from the Tillamook County Library! And if you are still looking for a topic to write about, I have first-hand experience (and a faded blue ribbon) that proves Snoopy makes an excellent subject.


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