Wednesday, March 4, 2015

3 Famous Writers Who Never Went to College (with pictures!)

Whenever I feel particularly down about myself and worry that I might becoming too stupid, I turn to Wikipedia. But Katie, I hear my smart readers say (that means all of you, of course), Wikipedia is not the best source for information all the time. Why don't you go to college and take some college courses to keep your mind sharp? And you know what? I do.

But here's the thing: I don't take major 'core' classes of history, or English, or science (although maybe I should!). I take classes that interest me and make me want to learn. Classes like languages, cooking, psychology, sociology. I never graduated a four year college and that always stings me a little because both my parents are college graduates. So the fact that I only ever graduated with an AA ( that's a two year degree) always hurt. Sure, it was in becoming a Sign Language Interpreter, and sure I made deans list and honors, but it was still.....technical school.

In America we put a lot and I mean  A LOT of importance of going to college to better yourself and become smarter, better, faster, stronger. But college isn't for everyone. And that's why I turn to Wikipedia. That website is filled to the brim with with world famous authors who never went to college, dropped out of college, or didn't even graduate high school! Yet there they are on our bookshelves, sitting their in all their glory, or even being on film. So if you're like me and you feel that you could never be a writer because you never went to college, well then my friends,

1) Jack London (Call of the Wild, White Fance, Klondike Gold)

Jack London was a truly interesting man! At many points in his life he did things as a teen that most parents would have died over. Or sent him into the army. Or drank. A lot. During his high school years he became an Oyster Pirate, sailed to Japan, and wrote reports in his school newspaper about them. Who DOES that!? Jack London. In college he never wrote for his school, but he wanted to be a writer and spent much of high school life in a library. In college it was a Saloon. Because you
know...College. He dropped out of college (for financial reasons) and joined the Gold Rush in Alaska, and did many a great thing! But College? Never went back. Instead he became a world famous writer (even for his time!).

2) Mark Twain (The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and many more)

MARK TWAIN, 15 years of age, Worked on a Steamboat.
Mark Twain was also one of the most interesting men you'll ever meet. He worked on a steamboat, he was a newspaper writer in San Fran, and he went on all sorts of adventures for writing simply to write about it and know people and learn. He never went to college, feeling he couldn't get as broad an education there than in a library, and learned through that. Mark Twain is one of my favorite authors, with his dry sense of humor, his way with getting people in just a few short sentences and making characters that came to life. You know how he did it? By living.

3) Stan Lee: (Creator of The Fantastic Four, The Avengers, Builder of Empires)

I'm a geek and I'm not ashamed to admit it! Writing isn't always reserved for the Novelists. Let's talk comics! Do you know how hard it is to
make them? Blood, sweat, tears, and lots of  "Oh crap, didn't Stan Lee already make a character/story plot like this?" Because Stan Lee is prolific. Stan Lee redefined and shaped comics. And you know what? He never went to College. He grew up saying he wanted to write the next 'great american novel' and spend his teen years and early life working as a grunt (for years mind you!) in publishing and magazine houses. He read books and love films. He loved comics. And then he made Marvel what it is was today. He made DC what it is today. He did all of this from years of working as a teen doing something he loved.

These men are why I don't give up. They were and are smart, savvy, funny, interesting, and human. Read their Wikipedia pages and you'll think you're reading an actual book half the time! The things they did, the lives they lived!

Ah. There it is.

The lives they lived. THEY LIVED. They didn't get their writing abilities from a four year English Program. They worked on boats, they were pirates, the wrote about dusty old mining towns in the middle of nowhere and the cold Alaskan Gold Rush. They had the god given talent for words and they used it and nurtured it through the human experience and the people they met and the things they did.

Do you need college? No. It's a great and wonderful source of learning and I don't begrudge college AT ALL. Hell, all of the people here spend copious amounts of times in libraries because they loved learning. But there is a common theme in many of the famous writers that rather than go to college, rather than learn in a classroom, they learned from experiencing life, knowing it could offer more for them than sitting in a room for four years.

So the next time you feel down about yourself and think you can't be a good writer because you never took college writing classes, or never majored in English, or never completed or went to college remember these men. And remember people like Maya Angelou, Ray Bradbury, Truman Capote, and HG Wells.

Live life. Experience people and places. Read often. Go to Libraries. ALWAYS LEARN. But live beyond what society says is correct. It's scary and hard. But we can do it. We have to. We're writers.

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