A Few Lessons Learned from Edgar Allan Poe
Best known for his poem The Raven, Edgar Allan Poe is a famed American author, poet, editor and literary critic.
But, did you know that Poe didn’t take an easy path on the road to success? Like many newly published authors, Poe had to use his ingenuity and perseverance to hit the ground running when it came to promoting his first book.
Poe was born on January 19, 1809, and was the son of professional actors. After a rough childhood, Poe was sent to live with a family in Virginia, the Allans. The family provided him with a strong education, but they were hesitant to accept his literary aspirations.
For about a decade, Poe wrote poetry and short stories, including some of his best works. But, shockingly enough, he never received any significant recognition. Only about 50 copies of his first book Tamerlane and Other Poems were printed, and it was not widely read.
At the same time, he also embarked on a military career, serving in the U.S. Army before receiving an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point. Poe’s desire to continue at West Point waned, and he eventually decided to leave by purposely getting himself court martialed. He then left for New York, where he continued to pursue writing.
Despite his failings in the military, and his lack of early success as a writer, Poe continued fighting to do what he loved.
As a newly published author, you can take a page out of Poe’s story by realizing that writing, publishing and promoting your book requires hard work and a thick skin. At first Poe’s book wasn’t warmly accepted, he didn’t give up and continued to write and work in the industry.
Another lesson that Poe can teach writers today is to think outside of the box. At the time, while other writers were writing candid, realistic representations of life in America, Poe concerned himself more with the subconscious – dreams, nightmares, and the unspoken, and wrote about topics that he loved and found interesting. In short, you don’t necessarily have to follow the crowd to find success.
Through the ups and downs of writing and working on new pieces that went against the grain, Poe began to receive attention in 1844 for his poemThe Raven.
In this day and age, the success of The Raven would have been equivalent to going viral. Some say that Poe became a writing sensation overnight. However, this wasn’t true considering his success was two decades in the making. For most authors, slow and steady wins the race when it comes gaining a following. This statement holds true for authors as famous as Edgar Allan Poe as well. What many of us see as instant success is often grounded in significant effort and time.
There is much that a newly-published author can learn from Edgar Allan Poe, including never being afraid to put your thoughts on paper and, most importantly, believing in your work. Whether or not your book is well-received by the public is not entirely under your control; however, you will never know if you don’t try. So, take a page out of Poe’s book and never give up on your writing dreams!