Margaret Atwood who recently spoke at the Cheltenham Literary festival about the challenges faced by aspiring writers.
Nobody should become a novelist who is not a gambler or obsessed with words ...- because, she says, it is now much harder for aspiring writers to break through and establish themselves than it was when she began her career in the 1960s.
She also talked about how very hard it was for her as an aspiring poet:
At that time few Canadian writers were published, even in Canada.But now the challenges have changed:
If you wrote a novel you were told that there weren't enough readers in Canada so you have to get a British or American publisher.
Then, after years of being told that there was nothing unique about Canada, you were told that your novel was too Canadian for Britain or the US.
At the same time the immediate postwar years were probably the most male-dominated decade in the history of literature in the past 150 years.
...there's so many people writing there's a great struggle to find an agent and a publisher.... Sometimes [new authors] are flavour of the month when their book comes out but if it doesn't then sell a trillion copies they struggle again.And she talked about the advantage that age confers to writers:
If you are young you can imagine what its like to be old but you havent lived it. If you are older you have not only experienced what its like to be older but you can remember every stage in between.Now that is about the only advantage of growing older as far as I can see!