Just like dogs, writers have their own conversion to human years to make. If you’re a 32-year-old writer writing for 20 years, you’re probably much, much older than a 40-year-old writer writing for 10 years.
How do you go about determining your true writer age? It’s simple.
First of all, discard your real age, which is meaningless. Then
(1) Take the number of years you’ve been writing and multiply it by the number of rejection slips you’ve received.
(2) Divide that number by the number of acceptances. (If zero, use one instead.)
(3) Then subtract the number of times someone (anyone from your mum to the NYT) has said they like your writing.
(4) Add to that result the number of bad reviews you’ve gotten.
(5) Take the number of feuds you’ve had with other writers, multiplied by the number of ranting comments you’ve posted to someone’s blog on a subject related to writing. Add that number to your total.
(6) Subtract the number that represents every time you’ve helped another writer, either by reading something of theirs or by helping them get an agent, etc.
Don’t count the number of times you’ve wept at a rejection or raged in private at some slight. Don’t count the number of times you’ve thought enviously of some other writer’s career. Don’t count the number of times the precarious nature of the business has driven you to drink (or, if you’re under-aged, copious amounts of soda and ice cream). Don’t count the number of times you’ve danced around in your bathrobe because of some success. All of these variables, over the lifetime of a writer, tend to occur in the same numbers for everyone.
So, by that formula I am almost exactly 1,000 years old today. Happy writer’s birthday to me.