Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Backgrounds and Life Experiences

After going through some of my books on the craft of writing the other day, I picked up Eudora Welty's book titled One Writer's Beginnings with the thought of rereading it. She begins by telling about her childhood, parents and siblings.

It made me think about the many different backgrounds well-known writers have come from, and also those who are not well-known. Some lived at the poverty level. Frank McCourt, author of Angela's Ashes comes to mind. Some grew up in middle-class families that had enough to eat but no true luxuries in their lives. Then there are authors who were raised in the privileged class, as it was once called. They were born with the proverbial "silver spoon in their mouth."  Lewis Carroll, author of Alice In Wonderland was born into a wealthy family.

Whether rich or poor, or middle-of-the-road, it makes no difference in the ability to write a story well enough for it to be published and read by others. Being wealthy might help in opening the doors to publishing companies a little more easily, but not in the ability to produce quality writing.

Life experiences are probably more important than what economic level we each landed in as a babe. While our economic situation plays a large role in our life experiences, it doesn't fit us into a permanent slot. A poor child and a rich child can have either loving parents who nurture with passion from day one, or those two children from opposite ends of the wealth scale, might each have parents who neglect them emotionally or abuse them physically. All our experiences as we grow from infant to toddler to grade school child to teen to young adult form our thought processes and our actions in life. For writers, these years are the ones that influence our writing.

I'm reminded of that old argument as to what is more important in forming personality--heredity or environment. For writers, it's what is more important-- economic backgrounds or life experiences. In both cases, I believe it's a combination of the two that creates the people we are.

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