Any path to a writing life is a fine one.
Some people come to it along the mentored path of education, which leads the student from class to class, critique to critique, right to the front door of a party raging, the guests within all satin and heels, all turn of a shirt collar. It’s one way to enter, credentials at the ready, and it has its virtues.
Some find their writing life through another door, the alley entrance. There, amid drain holes and garbage bins, the writer makes his way, naked stories laid out for the taking, things more raw and uncensored than along more refined pathways. The streets become the classrooms, and the critiques that are essential for feedback will come in the mail as responses to his submitted pieces.
Some pieces will be published, some won’t, and in the meantime the self-taught writer continues to read his betters, analyze, and apply what he’s learned to his own humble sentences—and lo and behold, he improves.
This writer hasn’t spent time in the proverbial box, and so he is, by definition, already thinking outside of it. And his ardor—the chief tool of his working day—is what will drive his first-efforts ragged talent.
Trial and error is a very good teacher.
The dedicated writer writes a lot, and through his diligence may well create something terrific, even explosive, to show for his troubles. That his material is capable of evoking such emotion should surprise no one in light of how he came by it, a path highly idiosyncratic, and yet available to anyone willing to work, learn, and work some more.
There are no barriers to entry to a writing life. Front door? Back door? Take your pick, and pick up your pen.
Photo credit: red back door, Simon Cataudo; alley, Tamlyn Rhodes