Thursday, July 05, 2007

George Bernard Shaw - from The Writer's Almanac

This from today’s The Writer’s Almanac:

It was on this day that in 1880 that George Bernard Shaw quit his job in order to write full time. He followed his mother to London when he was 20, hoping to make something of himself. His aunt got him a job at the Edison Telephone Company. He tried to write in his spare time, but eventually decided that he couldn't write and work at the same time. So on this day in 1880, when the Edison Telephone Company announced the consolidation with a competing firm, he used that as an excuse to quit. It was the last non-literary job he ever had.
At first, his decision seemed to be a disaster. He had to live on one pound a week from his father and whatever his mother could spare from her job as a music teacher. He spent his days in the British Museum Reading Room, reading and writing, but his first five novels were all rejected. He finally gave up on fiction and began to focus his energy on becoming a critic. It took 10 years after Shaw quit his job before he began to make a living as a critic and then began to produce the plays that made his name as a writer. He lived with his mother all that time, and she never complained about supporting him. He later said, "My mother worked for my living instead of preaching that it was my duty to work for hers; therefore take off your hat to her and blush."

This seems like a good validation of the work to be a critic.

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