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Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2009-03-08 17:51
Subject: [polls|writing] Literary generations and age of publication
Security: Public
Tags:personal, polls, publishing, writing
I was chatting with sdn about literary generations today. At my age (b. 1964, currently 44), I'm a bit too young for the Baby Boomers and a bit too old for Gen X. I'm in one of those "cusp" demographic cohorts. My literary generation is an entirely different affair, as my fiction first saw print when I was 37, which makes me a bit older than many of my literary peers.

All of which makes me wonder, if you are professionally published, at what age did you first appear in print? I've put up a poll here. If I get a decent set of results, I'll generate a graph and do some off-the-cuff analysis. Feel free to amplify your poll answer in remarks here or at the poll itself.

What are your thoughts on this? Is the question of chronological age vs. literary generation even relevant?

Originally published at jlake.com.

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Ruthanne Reid
User: ruthannereid
Date: 2009-03-09 01:59 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'd actually be more curious to know how long it took most people to get published. That is, from the time they decided to pursue this crazy words-smith thing seriously.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-03-09 02:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
That would be an excellent followup poll, actually. Remind me mid-week, if you don't see me do it.
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Ruthanne Reid
User: ruthannereid
Date: 2009-03-09 02:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Shall do!
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User: mrtact
Date: 2009-03-09 17:33 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Actually, someone did this very thing not too long ago. Thought it was Justine Larbalestier or Bear, but I can't for the life of me find the post.
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User: mrtact
Date: 2009-03-10 04:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Or, maybe it was Toby Buckell...

Interesting. I wonder how I came across that post. I haven't been reading the blog since 2006.
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Bob
User: yourbob
Date: 2009-03-09 02:09 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
As a '62er myself, I have found it interesting figuring out what generation I'm supposed to claim. Wallace, who coined GenX for himself was actually a couple months older than me. Yet most demographic things I've seen seem to say the baby boom ended sometime during '62 - and I'm near the end.

I suspect claiming to be a "GenX Baby Boomer" would be appropriate, if rather silly.
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scarlettina
User: scarlettina
Date: 2009-03-09 04:33 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Born in 1962? Me, too! And we do, in fact, have our own generation: Gen Jones.
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Kristine Smith
User: kristine_smith
Date: 2009-03-09 02:19 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I was 41. I feel like such a slacker.

The tail end of the Boomer generation is now called something else, but I forgot what the name was.
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Laura Anne Gilman
User: suricattus
Date: 2009-03-09 02:35 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
"The Jones Generation"

I much prefer the "Don't Label Me, Damn it" Generation, myself.

(41 here also)

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ebonypearl
User: ebonypearl
Date: 2009-03-09 02:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I presume you mean professionally published? If we're going for "in print", I was published at 8, but if you mean paid, appeared in a professional journal/anthology/novel, I was 16. My last fiction piece was purchased when I was 19, and all of my publishing creds in the 44 years since then have been non-fiction.

Edited at 2009-03-09 02:37 am (UTC)
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Tim W. Burke: Nosferatim
User: timwb
Date: 2009-03-09 03:05 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Nosferatim
Paid professional rate in newspaper: age 25
Genre published: age 35, after nine years
Pro genre published: age 38
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Rose Fox
User: rosefox
Date: 2009-03-09 05:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Augh, the poll software reorders the answers to make a nice smooth curve, completely defeating the purpose of having them ordered differently in the first place!
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-03-09 12:05 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Not sure if I can fix that, but I am going to try.
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jeffsoesbe: yeff yahoo avatar
User: jeffsoesbe
Date: 2009-03-09 06:29 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:yeff yahoo avatar
Does "professionally published" mean
- "SFWA professionally published"
- "someone paid me money to publish a story", or
- "someone published a story but I didn't get any $ for it"

Just wondering how I should answer the poll (or even answer it at all!)

- yeff
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-03-09 12:05 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You're overthinking. Just answer the question. You may shop as usual. No need to return to your home.
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jeffsoesbe: yeff southpark
User: jeffsoesbe
Date: 2009-03-09 20:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:yeff southpark
Me? Overthinking something? Never :-)

poll answered, with first time someone gave me $ to publish a story.

The suggested "how long until you made a sale" poll will be very interesting...
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JoSelle
User: upstart_crow
Date: 2009-03-10 01:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
*headwall* And now I notice this response. Forgive my nonsense downthread, Jay.
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ozarque
User: ozarque
Date: 2009-03-09 12:25 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I was eight years old. The publication was a poem -- all about dewdrops and moonlight, as I [dimly] recall, and it appeared in a newspaper. That would have been in 1944.
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Paul: BWshot
User: pabba
Date: 2009-03-09 12:35 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:BWshot
22 years old. Story sold to Shimmer.
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kyle cassidy
User: kylecassidy
Date: 2009-03-09 13:59 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I was twelve. And I think I owe a lot of where I am today to it. I'd been writing for a long time and luckily went to a school system that was very encouraging and provided great resources. One year two college students showed up with an interesting independant study -- get the regional newspaper to give a weekly colum to a group of pre-teens to write about ... whatever. And so we interviewed judges, we interviewed people in drug rehab, we interviewed politicians and we wrote. I've never gotten tired of seeing my name in print and I think I can trace much of my success to that time.
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kellymccullough
User: kellymccullough
Date: 2009-03-09 17:33 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Gen X, both age wise and culturally.

First short story publication: age 32.
First novel publication: age 38.
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stephenstanley
User: stephenstanley
Date: 2009-03-09 17:55 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I put my first professional sales at 54 to WotF and Ghosts at the Coast. First published in comics fandom at 16 -- both prose and graphic stories. Published in a Missouri-wide chapbook as part of "Missouri Youth Writes" at 18 -- that was a science fiction "story." Between 18-54 I wrote and submitted work (cartoons, poems, a few children's books, short stories) and finally hit the "big time" in 2005. I don't think you can pin-point a "literary generation." There will always be fine writers of any age publishing at various times of their lives for a myriad of reasons. I like to think that what I write now is contemporary and has little to do with what I wrote 40 years ago or what people my same age wrote 20 years ago. However, I'm often wrong.
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anghara
User: anghara
Date: 2009-03-09 18:10 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
1963 vintage, here. First published at 12 or 13 or thereabouts.
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Mister Eclectic: The Gov - book throw
User: howeird
Date: 2009-03-09 22:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:The Gov - book throw
Hmmm. Have never published a book or short story. First photo published at 14, was a professional newspaper photographer and journalist at 17, and had more words in print that way than most novelists do in a lifetime. But there's no comparison between the ridiculously easy process of cranking out several articles a day for a newspaper and the very challenging one of creating a book.
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JoSelle
User: upstart_crow
Date: 2009-03-10 01:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'd like to do this, but I'm not sure how you're defining professionally published. Are we talking about the age at which a new york publishing house showed interest in me (which means I can't answer this poll) or the age that we first got paid for work in print (in which case I'm in the below 18 category)?

ETA: Er. LOL. I can't read, I guess. I went ahead and answered anyway, because, upon rethinking, I think I fit the criteria you're looking for.

But in case I don't I'll explain: my first newspaper article appeared in the school paper at age 16, my first poem was published in a school magazine then, too. I also had one of my stories poached by a newspaper which decided it would be fine to not pay me for my work (after my journalism teacher cursed them a blue streak, they sent me a check for $25).Went into the theatre, where things work a little differently, but I began publishing short stories and poems (in the sense that people paid me for them) at age 24. I'm 28 now.

Edited at 2009-03-10 01:21 am (UTC)
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Merry: Snow dragon watch
User: feed_your_muse
Date: 2009-03-10 15:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Snow dragon watch
At age 35; it was in a charity anthology, so I didn't get paid - does that still count?

Merry

>^..^
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Merry
User: feed_your_muse
Date: 2009-03-10 16:00 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Forgot to say - Gen X. (although in the UK (among my peers, anyway) we refer to ourselves as the Star Wars generation, rather than Gen X)
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