Literary GIANTS who were “self taught” – the roots of indie?

Ernest Hemingway, Nobel winner, had no interest in attending college.

William Faulkner and playwright Eugene O’Neill, also Nobel winners, didn’t take college seriously and quit.

French painter Henri Rousseau was self-taught and a late-blooming amateur; his first art show was at age 40.

Walt Whitman, another thoroughly self-taught autodidact, ended his formal education at eleven.

Emily Dickinson was another untutored autodidact who worked alone.

Vincent van Gogh was a solitary person who worked outside of any school or tradition. He had only one year’s total training from instructors, but studied ceaselessly on his own.

There are many others, of course.

The writer of the post was making a different point, but it made me think. If these great people threw off the conventions of their time, I wonder if they’d have thrown off the traditional methods of publishing today and been indie authors? Do you see some similarities to yourself? Did you get a degree in writing?

“Most often the reason a writer, artist, composer, etc. is not yet accomplished is… because she isn’t knowledgeable enough yet.”

“The self-taught creator… follows an atypical but most productive route to the knowledge she needs to excel. She looks for it wherever it may be and acquires it on her own. She has high motivation and a thirst for learning about her craft that cannot be quenched.

Taken from the blog post “Self-Taught Artists and Writers” from the blog at “davidjrogersftw” by David J. Rogers.

Published by Dan Alatorre AUTHOR

International bestselling author Dan Alatorre has 17 titles published in over a dozen languages. From Romance in Poggibonsi to action and adventure in the sci-fi thriller The Navigators, to comedies like Night Of The Colonoscopy: A Horror Story (Sort Of) and the heartwarming and humorous anecdotes about parenting in the popular Savvy Stories series, his knack for surprising audiences and making you laugh or cry - or hang onto the edge of your seat - has been enjoyed by audiences around the world. And you are guaranteed to get a page turner every time. “That’s my style,” Dan says. “Grab you on page one and then send you on a roller coaster ride, regardless of the story or genre.” Readers agree, making his string of #1 bestsellers popular across the globe. He will make you chuckle or shed tears, sometimes on the same page. His novels always contain twists and turns, and his nonfiction will stay in your heart forever. Dan resides in the Tampa area with his wife and daughter. You can find him blogging away almost every day on www.DanAlatorre or watch his hilarious YouTube show every week Writers Off Task With Friends. Dan’s marketing book 25 eBook Marketing Tips You Wish You Knew has been a valuable tool for new authors (it’s free if you subscribe to his newsletter) and his dedication to helping other authors is evident in his helpful blog.

16 thoughts on “Literary GIANTS who were “self taught” – the roots of indie?

  1. Dan, I’m pleased that you’ve found my blog post about self-taught writers and artists of value to your readers. You ask if the people I describe might be indie authors if they were living today. Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass is probably the supreme example of the success a self-published book can become–the greatest work of poetry an American has ever produced. Nobel winner Faulkner’s first book was self-published-it was poetry–and Nobel winner Ernest Hemingway’s first was virtually self-published. To be independent in anything requires strength, and all the people I mention in the article were strong and believed completely in themselves and their work.

    1. David, thanks for chiming in! (The original post was so good, I was tempted to re-blog completely but I saw those traits and wanted to focus in a different direction.)

      Edgar Allen Poe self published, and Mark Twain, too. We tend to forget that.

      I especially like the independence and determination emphasized at the end. No doubt these great minds were beset by the same issues of doubt and loss that we have today.

  2. This makes me feel better. I often feel I have to qualify my opinion of writing matters with, “Now, I don’t have a degree in writing, but…” There wasn’t a single creative writing class in my course load (though my Masters is in Elementary Literacy Instruction. I’m sure that helped with the basics.) I learned the craft through reading great books (both on the writing process and just great fiction in general) and especially through working with other writers. The value of writers learning from each other cannot be overstated.

  3. Don’t forget Sir Walter Scott who went out and bought his own printing press so he could publish the books he wanted to write rather than what his publishers wanted him to crank out.

  4. I studied politics (not to become a politician but to have a critical view and understand things better) with the goal in mind to become a journalist, as I love to write. Now I teach German and am writing more and more creatively, and I think that I am good at both.

  5. This was a timely post for me, Dan, and I thank David wholeheartedly for writing it.
    I have been doubting my ability of late, wondering if I need a crash course to pick up some of the rules of grammar that have obviously been forgotten. Quite silly really, and probably something to do with my advancing years, for I have never doubted myself before.
    Most of my idols are in the list you speak of, so you have renewed my faith… thank you so much…

    1. Jenanita, there is a writer’s conference I’m supposed to go to next month, and as I checked through the schedule I saw a lot of sections relating to MFA or MCA – and I didn’t even know what it was. Master of Fine Arts, Master of Creative Arts. Based on what THAT organization thinks is necessary to be a writer, I’m probably not attending their conference.

      Great storytelling has a lot less to do with commas and grammar than HEART and PASSION – things which cannot usually be taught.

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