Do We Really Know When Our Writing Career Began?

Every writer has a story. In almost every interview, one of the questions asked is, “When did you start writing?” People who say that they’ve always wanted to write or they began when they were very young blow my mind. It wasn’t like that for me … or was it?

I never really thought about it much until that question popped up a bunch over the past couple of years. I couldn’t remember wanting to write. However, some things are inevitable. While unpacking boxes recently, I came across a paper that I had written for school when I was ten.

The Life and Times of the Number Two Son of the Devitt Family.

We’ve all written school papers, however, when I came across this one, I had to laugh. On the title page, I found something that blew me away. Here’s the ‘Front Matter’:

Author: Jimmy Devitt

           Publisher: Jimmy Devitt

            Photographer: Devitt Family

WHAT!? Who would have known that at ten years old, I would have realized that I was going into self-publishing? After all, this was something like 40 years ago.

Now we fast-forward to high school. Here’s where writing changed my life, literally. I entered an essay contest in the Seattle Times, writing on the topic, “Why I wanted to be a Bat Boy for the Seattle Mariners.” Long story short … I won. I became the visiting clubhouse batboy for the Seattle Mariners, working on the field for Major League Baseball. For the next eight years of my life, I worked with the likes of Reggie Jackson, Tom Seaver, Mark McGwire, Nolan Ryan and the rest of pro baseball.

The weird thing is, until recently, if you would have asked me about how I got started in writing, I would have said it started late in life.

So, in conclusion, I’ll end with immortal words of Jimmy Devitt in the last lines of “The Life and Times …”

… That’s about all I can tell you now. If I went on I’ll have hundreds of pages. So, now I’ll have to say goodbye. I hope the rest of my life is better from now on. There’s not much more you can get out of me now. So here’s Jimmy Devitt saying goodbye, “Good-Bye”.

Author: Jim Devitt

Jim Devitt’s debut YA novel, The Card, hit #1 in three separate categories on the Kindle Bestseller list in early January and was a finalist in the Guys Can Read Indie Author Contest this past summer. Devitt currently lives in Miami, FL with his wife Melissa and their children. Learn more about Jim at his blog and his Amazon author page.

26 thoughts on “Do We Really Know When Our Writing Career Began?”

  1. That’s so cute – and prophetic. I wrote the first story I was proud in the eleventh grade. My teacher told me my prose was too ‘terse’. It cut me short and i didn’t think about it again for the next 40 years. Now they all ‘cut out the non-essential words’. Maybe I was right all along.

  2. This made me think of a poem I came across a few years ago that I wrote as a teenager. It was awful, but I kept it to remind me of how far I’ve come.

    1. Helen, that’s great. It’s fun to see what we did years ago … we probably thought it was really good way back then.

  3. I understand what you’re saying! My first published article was in the first grade when I wrote a report about a class field trip to a museum, and it was selected for the school paper.

    1. That’s really cool. It would be great if you still have a copy of that. I know I’ve had a good laugh looking at some of my youthful writings!

  4. What a delightful, thought-provoking post! I always loved writing, but don’t have anything from my childhood. Left one country after another, and first to be discarded were pieces of paper. So, I followed my musical and painting careers, stopped the latter when writing became too demanding. Now I looking longingly at my paintings, and think–one if these days…

    1. What a great story. The beauty is, there is always one of these days ahead of us. Just do it!

  5. What a great start you had! I knew I wanted to write the moment someone asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up. But it took me ages to realize that dream. I first went into journalism. Then, finally, when I learned you could write an ebook and publish it for free, I found my wings. But not even a scrap of creative writing passed through my fingers before then. Good for you!

  6. For me, it was the winter I was in first grade. My parents had recently split up, and my mom was getting back into writing. I’d fall asleep listening to her as she played movie soundtracks and tac-tac-tacked away on her electric typewriter. I was also working my way through the Lord of the Rings (I was a precocious reader!).

    School that year had a writing contest. I wanted to enter, and wrote a short story about global warming, massive flooding, with floating cities. Far as I know, I was one of the first writers to write about global warming/flooding – this was in 1979… Into this rather desperate future Earth I tossed first contact with a friendly alien race. Star Trek style adventures proceeded from there. 😉

    Hey, I was six. 😉

    Typed it on a manual typewriter my mom had around from her college years. Took second place in the grade 1-5 category. With that, I was hooked.

    1. What a great story, Kevin.
      I love the global warming in ’79. You certainly had a great role model and it has paid off.

  7. Nice post, Jim; I believe, whether we realise it at the time or not, that if you examined the early years of most writers you’d find tell tale indications of that inherent writer. Once you become consciously aware of those defining moments it becomes so obvious; the next time someone asks, “And when did you first know you were a writer?” you share those significant, noteworthy moments in time.

    1. You’re right TD, the seeds are planted very early … life goes on… and you hope that one day you find where you planted those seeds. Thanks!

  8. Super post, Jim. It extracted an “Ahhh!” from me.
    Like many, my love of writing came from school days but I didn’t realise it either until I one interview when I was asked when I first knew I wanted to be a writer. My mind went back into the depths of time and I actually pinpointed the moment I wanted to write. The desire must sit in a dormant state until we are ready and able to unleash it.

  9. Who couldn’t enjoy a story written by Jimmy Devitt?!

    Seeing those words written on the page with a duotang cover provided me with a sentimental moment. Memories of school days. I wish I’d been less up tight and more inclined to go with the creative spirit.

    A truly delightful post, Jim. :))

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