Western Wayne Middle School students learned about the time and effort it takes to have a career as a published author on Tuesday, Nov. 14, when award-winning author J. E. Thompson spoke to them.
Upon graduation from Middlebury College with a major in English and minor in finance, Thompson had wanted to pursue a career in writing but couldn’t figure out how to make money in such a venture. Therefore, first, his life’s path took him to a 25 year career working on Wall Street instead.
Thompson greatly enjoyed the many years he spent working in finance but came to a turning point in his life in 1994 when he realized he wanted to return to his dream of becoming a writer.
“I realized that I had to find the courage to do it,” he explained. Not only did Thompson find the courage to pursue this dream, but also he has now been a successful writer for about 25 years with one of his most well-known books being Buccaneer’s Spit.
Thompson told the students about this best-selling book. In the novel, two teenagers work to save a spit of land in South Carolina from a developer who wants to take it over.
Thompson explained that his books are mystery, thriller stories. He told the students about the process he goes through to write a novel. He explained that he likes to start by creating characters that readers will care about. Then he creates a large problem for those characters to overcome, and, as he writes, he discovers how his characters will overcome the obstacles they face. Thompson explained to the students the many times a writer has to edit, revise, and rewrite a story before it is finally published.
“If you think what you have written as a first draft is the best way to express yourself, you are wrong,” Thompson explained when discussing how he would advise students to go about the process of writing good quality work. “If I were ever to enter a first draft to my agent or publishers, they would surely ‘cancel’ it.” He quipped thinking about the youth of today’s connection to the word ‘canceled.’
Thompson further explained how when he discusses the writing process with young aspiring writers he tries to relate it to how athletes spend a lot of time working on their craft.
“The first time you throw a pass it might not be as good as how the throw will be after a lot of practice,” he said. “The same is true for your writing. Practice through the form of revision and editing is what makes the writing better.”
The students had the chance to purchase a signed copy of one of Thompson’s novels after the presentation. Many of them are excited to read a book from an author they have met. Two of Thompson’s other published novels are The Girl From Felony Bay and its sequel Disappearance at Hangman’s Bluff. Both of these books have recently been republished with Pelican Publishing.