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[polls|writing] A bit more on the age of first publication poll - Lakeshore — LiveJournal
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Jay Lake
Date: 2009-03-09 17:05
Subject: [polls|writing] A bit more on the age of first publication poll
Security: Public
Tags:personal, polls, publishing, writing
Age of First Publication (103 respondents)

With 103 respondents, the curve stays fairly similar to its earlier version [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ]. There is certainly a polling artefact in place due my imprecision in crafting the question — judging from comments, some people cited their first appearance in a school paper etc., others cited their first professional publication.

At the same time, I suspect even with a much better crafted survey instrument we'd see a similar, if perhaps less dramatic curve. I'll generalize thusly: some people come to writing with enough raw talent to begin publishing early, and then grow into their craft. Those are the writers who started young. Some people (myself included) have to serve their decade+ of apprenticeship and write their million+ bad words, which explains the 31-35 bump.

There's no defensible methodology here, it's an amateur Internet survey with a self-selected response pool, but I still find this most interesting. Per a suggestion from ruthannereid, I'll mount a poll in a few days on time-to-first-publication, measuring from the first serious effort. (In my case, 11 years; see above.)

Your thoughts? Other ways to look at this?

Originally published at jlake.com.

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Zhaneel
User: zhaneel69
Date: 2009-03-10 01:10 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I really suspect the self-selected on the internet artificially inflates the early curve, as well as people self-identifying 'published'.

I do think that there is an expected bump at the 31-35 range, as people will change careers around that time as well as finally finishing 'that novel'.

Zhaneel
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Ruthanne Reid
User: ruthannereid
Date: 2009-03-10 01:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
That 31-35 bump is really, REALLY interesting. I wonder how major life-changes and personal play into it.
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Twilight: WriteInspirationPen
User: twilight2000
Date: 2009-03-10 01:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:WriteInspirationPen
And folks like me didn't list themselves as we've not published in the way I presumed you were talking about. I did "publish" in grad school - to ERIC and to a conference - so 31-35 would have been right if that's the basis for "published."

The other bit is that a lot of us never think of ourselves as "writers" and so don't get around to even trying till we're much older and a little more sure of ourselves. It's only in the last 5 years I've started trying to write fiction :>.
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J.K.Richárd
User: neutronjockey
Date: 2009-03-10 02:00 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
My thoughts?

I'm turning 31 this year...oh yeah, Golden Zone here I come!
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threeoutside
User: threeoutside
Date: 2009-03-10 02:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I didn't post in the poll in the first place because I assumed you meant "professionally" in terms of "SFWA professionally." I that what you meant, or did you mean, for money?
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e_bourne
User: e_bourne
Date: 2009-03-10 03:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It's moderately interesting, but what is it that you are trying to determine? That would help in designing the question (says she who helps design questions for a living).

While creativity is a life-long process, individuals peak at different times for their own, individual reasons. As a painter, I was a stronger artist in in my twenties-thirties. As a writer, I couldn't have written then. I wouldn't have had anything to say.

Youth shouldn't make you think you lack experience. Age shouldn't make you feel it's too late.

Sophocles didn't write Oedipus at Colonnus until he was 89. Grandma Moses didn't start to paint until she was, well, grandma. And then there's Mozart, who accomplished more by the time he was thirty than most of us ever will no matter how long we live.

We are unique snowflakes, and our path to our own greatest creative growth and ability will likewise be unique.

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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-03-10 03:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It's moderately interesting, but what is it that you are trying to determine?

It was just idle curiosity about when people began to break into publishing.
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e_bourne
User: e_bourne
Date: 2009-03-10 04:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
My prurient curiosity would wonder when people self-identified as professional writers. Which may or may not have anything to do with publishing (although gee, it would be nice if they did), and what the time between starting to write, and believing in your heart, "Yes, I am a writer."

Lacking your amazing energy, I will just ponder. Your energy leaves me in awe.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-03-10 04:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
That is a whole different question. I can point to that event in my own writing life with nigh-alarming specificity. As for energy, I don't have any more than anyone else. I just use it differently. :p
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Somewhat Bent: Pictures...
User: ladyallyn
Date: 2009-03-10 03:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Pictures...
I had my first *major* publication (photography) in Texas Monthly in 1982. I didn't have another (to speak of... some newspaper filler) one until I had a Wings West cover in 1992. Still waiting on the next one...

I'll be hanging again in May, if you're in Seattle, however.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-03-10 03:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I may well be in Seattle in May, though from here May seems so veeeery far away.
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basletum
User: basletum
Date: 2009-03-10 05:26 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
If I had taken the poll, I'd have been in the 26-30 range. Heh. In 2005, I sold my first story in April at the age of 29, had my 30th birthday in June, and saw it get published in July. Ironically, after many years of rejections along with off-and-on half-hearted attempts, I spent 3 years writing nothing at all, then decided to make one more try at it in...April of 2005.
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User: sacchig
Date: 2009-03-10 16:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm wondering whether the curve might be slightly different if you were polling women only. Probably not, in that many women have managed to balance raising children, working at a day job, and writing very well. And the exigencies of supporting a family affect men, too. So, well, I guess I've answered my own question in the negative.
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S Lynn
User: robling_t
Date: 2009-03-11 03:48 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Hm, but did you also ask about the current age of the respondents? Because I wonder if that curve is also reflecting the demographics of the net overall, and missing the experience of a cohort of older writers. (Whether this matters, as such, Idunno, just kinda interesting to Ponder...)
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