Toni Morrison is 80. She published her first book at 39.
I’m taking a ton of summer classes (by ton I mean three) and for two of them I had to read Toni Morrison novels–A Mercy and The Bluest Eye. I’ve sort of bookended her career, I suppose. Now I’m tearing through Beloved on the side of all my homework (i.e. write four response essays and read two other novels by Wednesday…) and I think it might very well be the best book I’ve ever read.
I love that I can go through nearly two decades of school (counting kindergarten) and still pick up new writers to be obsessed with. This reminds me of why I think it’s silly for writers to be competitive–sure, our own success and glory is pretty great, but isn’t it also great to read good books? Don’t you want publishers to release as many good books as they possibly can? Don’t you want the people who write these good books to be your friends?
I will probably never “know” Toni Morrison, but for the record, she did recently appear to me in a dream wherein we were going out for pizza and bowling and she was really nice. And now that I’ve transitioned back to the main subject of this post, I am going to say, once again, that we can learn from writers like her that there is no need to rush our writing careers or put pressure on ourselves about how much we should have published by when. Just write well, live a long time, and write a lot. And read Beloved if you haven’t yet.